Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) completed its first Rivers Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Big Sewickley Creek Watershed at the end of March 2021.
Launched in spring 2019, the goal of the plan was to create a better public understanding of: the watershed’s natural and cultural assets; the threats to water quality and property due to flooding, natural resource exploration, residential and commercial development, outdated municipal codes, infrastructure buildout, and conflicting interests in land use and potential resolutions to those conflicts and the opportunities to maintain the watershed as a beautiful and healthy place to reside and recreate.
“Water is a vital resource, and the state of its health is the responsibility of every individual at every level,” Alyson Fearon, ALT’s Senior Director of Community Conservation & Resiliency, said. “Creating this plan gave us the opportunity to increase municipal communication to view the watershed as a planning unit – as an asset instead of a liability.”
The BSCW encompasses approximately 30-square miles across parts of 12 municipalities in three counties. Economy Borough (Beaver County) and Marshall Township (Allegheny County) have the largest percentage of land area in the watershed. The headwaters reach as far east as Bradford Woods and north to North Cranberry. The main stem of the creek itself is considered the boundary between Allegheny and Beaver Counties for the majority of its course to its mouth at the Ohio River between Leetsdale and Ambridge.
The watershed is rich with recreational and environmental assets with eight municipal parks, two Sportsman Associations, several privately-protected conservation areas, and a 1,200-acre State Gamelands No. 203 within the watershed. ALT has already protected about 250 acres in the watershed. Plenty of off-road trails are very popular with equestrians and mountain bikers, and road cyclists are often seen riding in groups with team colors on the local roads. Fishing holes and stream habitat attract anglers of all ages on Opening Day of trout season, and the large tracts of green space are popular for small game and deer hunting. The watershed also contains critical habitat for several plant and animal species, as noted with the six Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Areas that have recently been identified or reverified in 2020.
“We are excited to continue to grow partnerships with the community, municipalities, and businesses within the area. We hope to inspire local people to care for their watershed so that it’s health, beauty and individuality can be enjoyed by current and future generations!”
A watershed festival was hosted during the planning process. Following the festival, several passionate residents connected to form a watershed association. The Big Sewickley Creek Watershed Association’s mission is to bring together the community to promote actions that benefit our waterways, and our world, as a whole and to conserve the Big Sewickley Creek for the enjoyment of current and future generations. For the latest activity, visit the Big Sewickley Creek Watershed Association’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BSCWatershed