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Chapter 1 : Introduction

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  1. Project Area Introduction
  2. Project Background

A. Project Area Introduction

Swatara Creek and its encompassing watershed has had, and continues to have, a significant effect on the history and lives of the residents of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, and Schuylkill Counties in Central Pennsylvania. Swatara Creek has served as a provider of food, water, transportation, energy, and recreation for generations of inhabitants. The surrounding watershed supplied farmland, limestone, iron, coal, timber, and a host of other raw materials that aided in the establishment and subsequent development of the region, as well as the country.

From the time of the first prehistoric visitors, much has changed and continues to change about the "Swattie" and its watershed. The creek flowed unimpeded, teeming with fish and aquatic life in its earliest times, then experienced periods when pollution in the creek and tributaries essentially left the stream lifeless. Today, a new awareness and concern for the stream has brought it to the point of potentially becoming a major recreational resource.

Now though, new changes are taking place. Influxes of population and associated development, combined with changing agricultural practices, threaten to permanently alter the character of the stream and the watershed. Still, new conservation initiatives offer the potential for further improvements in water quality, recreation, and the aesthetic value of the stream and watershed, while allowing continued economic prosperity for the region.

It is in this context that the Swatara Creek Watershed Rivers Conservation Plan was initiated, and through this context that the recommendations and management options, presented in the following chapters, have been developed.

B. Project Background

The Swatara Creek Watershed Association (SCWA) initiated the Rivers Conservation Plan for the Swatara Creek watershed. From is inception in 1970, and subsequent rebirth in 1995, SCWA has played the primary role in the protection and enhancement of the Swatara Creek watershed. The reestablishment of the SCWA following its decline to inactivity circa 1980 was the result of joining forces with the group Citizens Coordinating for Clean Water (CCCW). A group that became active in the watershed in 1988, CCCW was voted by the former SCWA board to reactivate the organization, thereby providing CCCW with 501c(3) incorporation.

As a direct result of a SCWA sponsored Swatara Watershed Expo in 1996, a renewed vigor motivated the board of SCWA to seek the inclusion of Swatara Creek on the Pennsylvania Rivers Registry. This effort was driven by the enhanced status afforded waterways on the Registry when seeking public funds for river restoration and related projects.

A Rivers Conservation Planning Grant Application was submitted in 1997, and the Key-RCP-97-8 grant was awarded to SCWA. on May 8, 1998 and funded through December 31, 2001. The funding of the Rivers Conservation Plan was financed in part by a Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund Program grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The 50 percent match required for the DCNR grant was funded through grants from the William Penn Foundation and Canaan Valley Institute and by in-kind contributions from County Conservation Districts, Municipal and County planning organizations, local businesses, and conservation organizations within the watershed.

A series of three public meetings facilitated by the SCWA initiated the project in October 1998. At these meetings input from the public concerning the issues of importance in the watershed were determined. These issues were ranked by the membership of SCWA in order of importance and combined with the issues developed during the Swatara Watershed Expo. These issues were the primary focus for the remainder of the project.

Mackin Engineering Company (Mackin) was contracted by SCWA in June, 1999 to assist with the completion of the Swatara Creek Watershed Rivers Conservation Plan. Mackin Completed data collection for the project through December, 1999. After completing the data collection portion of the project, Mackin met with the project steering committee to present the preliminary findings of the RCP investigation.

Utilizing the collected information and input from the Project Steering Committee a "Draft" RCP was developed for the Swatara Creek Watershed. This document was circulated for public comment in July, 2000. Two public meetings (July 12 and 13, 2000) were held to present the findings of and solicit comment on the plan. The meetings were held within the watershed at the Northern Lebanon High School and Derry Township Middle School. Public comment was accepted on the document through August 14, 2000. Following the close of the comment period, Mackin met with members of the project steering committee to review and address the comments received on the document. Appendix A presents a summary of the Public Meetings, comments received on the "Draft" Document, and response to those comments. A contact list for the municipalities in the watershed is also found in Appendix A.

The following chapters present the final findings and recommendations of the Rivers Conservation Plan prepared by Mackin in conjunction with SCWA, the Project Steering Committee, and input received from the public.

Continue Reading Chapter 2 of the RCP

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