Turtle Creek

Members of the Local Government Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council (LGAC) had the pleasure of visiting Lewisburg, PA last month, during their quarterly meeting, to explore the rural site of Turtle Creek. The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Northcentral Regional Office (NCRO), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and many more state agencies, universities, organizations and landowners, have come together to provide restoration efforts to its beloved waterway.

The Turtle Creek Watershed sprouts from the Susquehanna River which flows directly into the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Turtle Creek Story Map provided by DEP, this waterway is 24 miles of flowing stream nestled in between several farming communities. The goal of this restoration project is to maintain water quality, stream health and protect existing habitats while continuing to maintain the watershed “as a working agricultural and forested landscape.”

Shanon Burkland Stamm and Renee Carey presenting an overview of the Watershed.

LGAC received a private tour of a few properties along the project. Members received a detailed presentation from experts Renee Carey, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, John Clune, US Geological Survey, Jonathan Niles, Susquehanna University, and Shanon Burkland Stamm, Union County Conservation District, about the stream and learned how the effects of agriculture, native plants, and impervious pavements directly affect the creek itself.

Members were also exposed to a live demonstration of electrofishing. Electrofishing is a scientific survey process by which small electric waves are dispersed into the water, thus stunning the wildlife present within the radius, and allowing them to float to the surface of the water for viewing. This process is gentle and allows electrofishers to catch, view and account for all aquatic species within a habitat. During this demonstration, Jon Niles, Susquehanna University, led a team of university students who worked together to identify the wildlife. Four students participated alongside Niles in the electrofishing process, as another student detailed each fish by species, size, and health. Nearby other students are pictured surveying the foliage that surrounds the banks.

This process proved to be quite a learning experience as LGAC members were able to see stream restoration initiatives and effects directly.

John Clune surveying the stream after electrofishers had observed the area.

Today, Turtle Creek is flowing stronger and waters are near clear in several parts of the stream. Native vegetation has continued to grow serving as natural buffers off the streambank, soaking up excess nutrients and runoff before it enters the stream once again. Wildlife biodiversity is also beginning to grow where several species have increased in numbers and have reentered the watershed. There is still a ways to go to complete the restoration of the Turtle Creek project but the progress will remain the greatest reward.

For more information on the Turtle Creek project, history, and restoration work to date, please visit