Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited to restore wild trout stream in Lebanon County

In the midst of ever-present doom and gloom in the news, at least one light is shining brightly in Lebanon County. The Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited is preparing to break ground next week on a $171,300 stream restoration project on Snitz Creek, a tributary to Quittapahilla Creek near Cleona.

Every couple of years, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission allocates grant money to the Tulpehocken and Quittapahilla Watersheds. Anyone within those areas can compete for funding via applications for watershed-restoration projects. Following a two-and-a-half-year process of applying, strategic planning and organization, the $115,000 grant has been awarded and the chapter is now ready for construction.

Clear Creeks Consulting and Aquatic Resources Restoration Company, which will do the construction, and the local Pennsy Supply Quarry have provided $56,298 in matching funds to further boost the purse for the project.

The work will be done along 1,200 linear feet of the Dean Foods (former Wengert Dairy) and Hershey properties along Dairy Road, near Snitz Creek’s confluence with Quittapahilla Creek. Snitz Creek was designated at the Fish and Boat Commission’s first quarterly meeting this year as a wild trout stream based on a specific biomass/km of wild brook trout discovered during a recent stream survey.

Beginning on June 17, stream restoration will include bank-erosion-prevention measures and in-stream wood and boulder habitat structures to narrow and deepen the creek in an effort to speed up the flow, scouring out the built-up sediment, and improving oxygenation of the water.

It will also create riffles, plunge pools, boulder vanes and J-hooks, bank grading, modified mudsills, one livestock crossing, removal of invasive plants and planting of native shrubs and trees to create a riparian buffer. The project will be very similar to the Quittapahilla project completed a few years ago, which is now designated as a Keystone Select trout stream section.

“This is a continuation of improvements in an impaired watershed,” said Doc Fritchey chapter President, Russ Collins. “The project will greatly improve the quality of the water when the entire project is finished. It was a high-priority area in terms of working on some of the tributaries that feed into the Quittapahilla and marks the beginning of our chapter’s efforts in the complete restoration of the watershed.”

“The Doc Fritchey chapter is currently working to secure grant funding for projects further upstream on the Snitz as well as along Beck Creek, another tributary to the Quittapahilla,” Collins added. “We are seeking funding from the pool of Mariner-East Pipeline fine money to be designated for water quality improvements along the Mariner-East corridor. Mariner-East has been fined $12.6 million since February for permit violations across the state of Pennsylvania.”

In a time when so many seem to be getting it wrong for water quality in Pennsylvania, the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited is getting it right. Not only will the trout benefit, but also the watershed in its entirety, including the anglers who call it home.

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