UPDATE: The fundraising river cruise on the Hiawatha set for this weekend is cancelled.
SUNBURY – The Susquehanna River watershed is one of the ‘main attractions’ in The Valley, but we have to work at spreading the word about the wonderful resource that is the river, and we have to work at protecting the watershed.
Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper John Zaktansky says one of the threats is abandoned mine drainage, “There’s creeks that run orange with high iron counts and there’s other creeks that you don’t see it immediately, but iron is dropping out and acid levels are off the mark. It can be pretty intense.”
Zaktansky says the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is working with local watershed and other groups to address that issue. He also says there’s still a lot of erosion and sedimentation, especially with all the recent heavy rains.
“It’s changing the bottoms of our creeks and our river. Some of the creatures from crayfish to hellbenders and others that rely on the rocky surfaces on the bottom, ultimately, are getting covered up. It’s impacting them and as it impacts them it affects bigger species all the way up through the ecosystem, he said.
And protecting the state amphibian, the hellbender, is especially important, “Their numbers are dropping drastically throughout our watershed…places up in Loyalsock, Lycoming and all the way up through creeks, all the way up through the top of our watershed. There’s people out there working hard to try to change that trend. They’re an important species because they’re an indicator species. If there’s a water quality issue, they’re one of the first creatures to let us know there’s a problem.”
Zaktansky says the organization continues spreading the message of its hellbender project to raise awareness of the species and its importance to the river. You can hear more about the association, on the WKOK Podcast page.