The environmental and aesthetic quality of four sites along the west side Wissahickon gorge will improve thanks to a partnership between the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) and Fairmount Park’s Natural Resources staff. The two-year collaboration, dubbed the Wissahickon Mitigation and Sediment Reduction Project, will reduce sediment, restore the habitats of wildlife crucial to the region, and improve water quality -- in turn protecting drinking water.
The project has identified four sites facing severe erosion to concentrate on at this time: Bluebell Meadow Pavilion, Historic RittenhouseTown, Kitchens Lane White Trail, and Kitchen’s Lane Gully. Although permits are still being finalized for both the Bluebell Meadow and Kitchen’s Lane Gully, work on the other two sites has begun.
At all four sites, FOW has identified a need for trail re-routing and repair that could solve severe soil erosion problems, and assist in managing stormwater. Currently, unmanaged stormwater (the result of parking lots, roads, and grassland that do not affectively absorb rain water) is the cause of trail damage; runoff of chemicals, sediment, and biological waste into the creek; and dangerous overflow of tributaries.
The project is being funded by $780,656 that was awarded to FOW via a settlement with Merck & Col, Inc., a healthcare company that produces medicines, vaccines, and biologic therapies. A 2007 case brought against the company following a severe spill in 2006, led to a $20 million settlement to fund projects related to stream restoration, sediment reduction, and habitat or wetlands restoration. The money awarded will allow this project to make a major impact in combating issues of erosion and sedimentation, identified as some of the most severe problems facing the creek in an ANSP 2001 plan, as well as a 2003 EPA report.
More information on the goals of the overall project, as well as work at each of the specified sites can be found here.