"The Fox Run Restoration Project"
By Kyle Durrett
BioMost, Inc.

 

June 30, 2005

(Jackson Center, PA) - The Fox Run Watershed is a subarea of the Shenango River Watershed (subarea 20a in the state water plan.) This watershed is situated in the central eastern portion of the Shenango River Watershed and receives drainage from 5,267 acres of Lake, Sandy Lake, Jackson, and Worth Townships in Mercer County and drains into Yellow Creek, a stocked trout fishery. Fox Run flows through land that was mined for coal by underground methods starting around 1949 by the Fox Mining Co. Surface mining for the Clarion coal seam became present in the watershed soon afterwards in 1954 and continued on into the 1970's and 1980's with the Willowbrook Mining Co and Adobe Coal. (some 608 aces surrounding the stream corridor.)

The Fox Run Watershed has since been identified by the Pennsylvania DEP as a high priority impacted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) in the 1998 303d List of Waters. This report indicated that the source of pollution was from abandoned mine drainage originating from the section of Fox Run directly upstream and adjacent to the bridge crossing on State Route 62. The main cause of pollution is the amount of iron in the discharges. The abundance of iron precipitate present in this area of Fox Run and downstream from the discharges has had an immense impact on the quality of aquatic habitat. When the site was sampled for aquatic macroinvertebrate life the results were low, yielding less than seven taxa. Based on DEP studies, however, Fox Run has been identified as having the potential to be restored to a high quality of habitat.

In 1999 and 2000 the Mercer County Conservation District received a state grant and conducted an assessment of the abandoned mine drainage and the impacts on the stream. This study identified, monitored, and characterized three perennial discharges (ground water springs and seeps from the old mine) which were responsible for the majority of the degradation to Fox Run. All of the discharges were high alkaline iron-bearing in nature. It was recommended that Aerobic Wetlands be installed adjacent to each discharge to capture the iron before it entered the stream. This type of passive treatment system is a proven, long-term, low-maintenance remediation technique. The passive treatment system at Fox Run Phase 1 will capture and estimated 4,000 pounds of iron from entering the stream annually!

RESTORATION OF THE SITE
Stream restoration Incorporated began work on this site when we were contacted by the Mercer County Conservation District. SRI then submitted a Growing Greener grant to the DEP to work on the Fox Run watershed way back in 2002. After the grant was awarded the real work began. It was not until late September 2004 that construction actually began after all design and permitting had been reviewed. Quality Aggregates Inc. construction of the site worked as expected and there is now over a 1/3 acre passive treatment complex including a collection channel, settling pond, and aerobic wetland capturing iron along State Route 62. This new wetland, was planted with a diverse range of native species, providing food and habitat opportunities for wildlife thanks to excellent design by The Urban Wetland Institute and BioMost, Inc. In addition to the plantings two wood duck boxes and an owl box will be installed later this summer to make new homes for birds. As Fox Run returns to a healthy stream, full of the life it once had, it will be an excellent example for future projects in the watershed and a great opportunity for local people to learn about how to keep Pennsylvania clean and majestic.

 

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