Tioga River Cleanup Steps Forward with Acquisition | News, Sports, Jobs

PROVIDED PHOTO Blossburg Mayor Shane Nickerson joined Renee’ Carey with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and John Brown and Cindy Ridall with KLJ Enterprises at the property to celebrate progress in restoring the Tioga River. The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the property from KLJ Enterprises, Inc., with funding provided by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

The acquisition of a 216-acre property in the Borough of Blossburg allows a project to address abandoned mine drainage to move forward. The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the property from KLJ Enterprises, Inc. with funding provided by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. The property will be needed to provide access to two abandoned mine landfills for water treatment as part of a larger Tioga River cleanup project.

“It was an opportunity for us to do something good for the Tioga River. We bought the property as an investment, but who better than NPC to sell it to so it can be part of the Tioga River cleanup,” said John Brown, partner of KLJ Enterprises Inc. Cindy Ridall also partner of KLJ Enterprises Inc. added, “It was the right thing to do. It will be good for the whole area. Can you imagine what a clean Tioga River will mean for Blossburg and the businesses in the city?”

KLJ, Inc. worked with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy so that financing for the purchase could be secured and plans put in place for future ownership of the property. It was a months-long process, but the closure took place in early May.

The property, a few blocks from downtown Blossburg, is crossed by Coal Creek. The creek has two discharges from old coal mines that empty into it about a half mile above where the creek joins the Tioga River.

Blossburg Mayor Shane Nickerson explained, “When you were a kid you knew to wear your old shoes when you went to the river (Tioga) because everything you wore would be orange when you went out. It’s exciting and amazing to think that we’re getting closer because the Tioga is a clean river and Island Park is a fishing spot.

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have worked in the Tioga River watershed with the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee for nearly 20 years to clean up the Tioga River. Over the years, the team has studied the various mine discharges to understand what types of pollution are released at that particular discharge and to understand how each discharge affects the larger Tioga River.

Charlie and Joyce Andrews of the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee helped bring attention to the Tioga River and start conversations about what a clean Tioga River would mean for communities along its banks and on how to start the process of working towards a clean river.

“Each step of the way has had its challenges, and we know there will still be challenges ahead, but to see so much progress happening over the past two years, and to see the way forward becoming clearer, is tremendous”, said Charlie Andrews, chairman of the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee.

Through the efforts of several partners, passive treatment systems have been constructed on Fall Brook. These smaller systems have improved the Tioga River section, but the active treatment plant being designed will now restore over 20 miles of the Tioga River, several miles of Fall Brook and Morris Run as well as treat a discharge on Coal Creek. This combination of treatments will improve the water quality not only of the Tioga River, but also of Lake Tioga and its effluents.

“Treating Coal Creek and cleaning up the Tioga River will help restore the river’s aquatic and fish habitat; provide potable water for municipal, agricultural, recreational, commercial and industrial purposes, such as irrigation for agriculture and kayaking for citizens; and ensure that the water that flows through Blossburg and into the Chesapeake Bay from the Tioga River is clean and helps restore communities and waterways along its path,” said Tom Clark, mine drainage program coordinator at the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

“The Susquehanna River Basin Commission has recognized the significance of the property. We appreciate the assistance of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy in the property acquisition stage so that our treatment design options can remain flexible as the project progresses. We expect to conclude design and permitting next year, and we cannot wait for the day when this property will no longer be crossed by abandoned mine drainage,” Clark added.

Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy Board Member Julie Weaver added, “When I was teaching science at Miller Elementary (Southern Tioga School District), we studied the Tioga River and had the kids test the water quality. It was the example of “polluted” water and allowed us to have many conversations about pollution and cleaning up. It is very exciting to know that the river will soon be cleaned up. I am pleased that the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy was able to help the partners take another step forward by acquiring the property. We are enthusiastic and ready to work with the community”

Eventually, NPC will work with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and the property will become part of the Tioga State Forest.

The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy is a land trust dedicated to conserving and improving the lands and waters of north-central Pennsylvania to support the environmental well-being and recreational needs of local communities. NPC works to conserve properties in Bradford, Central, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties.

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