Susquehanna River, Smallmouth Bass Benefit from First S.O.S. Project

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) today showcased its inaugural “S.O.S. – Save our Susquehanna!” project, a series of habitat improvements on Limestone Run in rural Montour and Northumberland counties designed to aid the Susquehanna River and smallmouth bass by reducing erosion and sediment loading in tributaries.

In all, the project will make improvements to five farm properties. So far, two properties have been completed. Improvements included placing in-stream stabilization structures in the two stream sections and creating a cattle crossing in one.

“This site represents the first location where the Commission’s ‘S.O.S. – Save our Susquehanna!’ funds have been used to improve tributary water quality that will benefit the Susquehanna River,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “We are extremely grateful to the individuals who donated to the campaign and are excited to be able to illustrate the work our staff and partners have completed so far.”

“Ultimately, the improvements displayed today will benefit the Susquehanna River and its smallmouth bass population,” he added. “Habitat structures slow bank erosion, which in turn reduces the amount of sediment and nutrients entering the stream and, ultimately, the Susquehanna River. Likewise, cattle crossings provide a path for livestock to cross waterways, while fencing keeps them from walking freely throughout a creek and up and down banks. This also reduces the amount of materials entering the stream.”

“Reducing sediment and nutrient run-off helps to control nuisance algae blooms that produce low oxygen levels and high pH conditions that are harmful to young bass,” he said.

Partners in the Limestone Run project include Montour County Conservation District; Northumberland County Conservation District; Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy; Susquehanna University; state Department of Environmental Protection; and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

As an added benefit to the project, the PFBC today also released approximately 150 wild brook trout into the stream. The release is designed to establish a reproducing population of Pennsylvania’s state fish in a stream where habitat degradation resulted in unsuitable conditions for trout.

The PFBC launched the S.O.S. – Save Our Susquehanna campaign in June 2015. To date, concerned individuals have contributed more than $60,000 to the campaign. In turn, the PFBC pledged $50,000 in matching funds.

“It is critical that we focus our collective efforts on protecting the Susquehanna River,” added Arway. “The donations we’ve received demonstrate that people are concerned and want to conserve this valuable natural resource, for this generation and future ones.”