Growing Greener Grant Funds Awarded!



Executive summary

 Burd Run Image The proposed project seeks to restore the stream channel, riparian corridor, and floodplain wetlands on a 21-acre property along Burd Run in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. The property, now publicly owned as a Shippensburg Township Park, is severely degraded by nonpoint sources of excessive sediments and nutrients. Artificial channel straightening and removal of riparian trees and shrubs have destabilized the stream, resulting in approximately 1200 linear feet of accelerated bank failure. In addition, elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus are present in the stream as a result of upstream agriculture taking place on shallow soils overlying steeply dipping and cavernous limestones. Floodplain wetlands located on the site have been ditched and drained, greatly reducing their ability to mitigate nutrient loads.

The proposed restoration project would reverse these actions through the application of best management practices (BMPs) toward the following integrated objectives:

1. Restoring the Burd Run stream channel Natural stream design concepts and erosion control BMPs will be used to reestablish a stable, meandering stream channel. This will result in the following benefits to the stream system:

  • The longer, meandering channel will have a flatter slope and less erosive energy, reducing the significant non-point source of sediments presently generated by accelerated channel erosion.
  • The restored channel will increase aquatic habitat by 8500 ft2.
  • The diversity of habitats supporting aquatic and riparian plants, invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, and other animals will be enhanced by recreating riffles, glides, and pools flowing around point bars and cutbanks.
  • The present threat of channel erosion into a sewer line less than 10 feet north of the present stream will be eliminated by restoring the stream channel to its historic location.

2. Enhancing riparian vegetation An 80 foot riparian buffer corridor--now virtually non-existent--will be restored by planting native tree and shrub species. This will result in the following benefits to the stream system and property:

  • The roots of riparian plants will provide additional structural stability to the streambanks, further reducing bank erosion and associated nonpoint sources of sediments.
  • The selected plants will provide a canopy over the stream, shading water and reducing stream temperatures. This will facilitate greater dissolved oxygen and healthier aquatic life.
  • The selected species for the riparian corridor will enhance wildlife habitat and site aesthetics.

3. Restoring floodplain wetland vitality and function Limestone springs exist in several locations at the site and feed wetlands both north and south of the stream. Spring water represents a significant nonpoint source of pollutants, consistently carrying high nutrient loads and contributing up to 20% of stream base flow. This project will eliminate artificial wetland drainage and restore natural wetland hydrology, providing the following benefits:

  • Greater retention time of water in the wetlands will facilitate nutrient reduction through vegetative uptake and denitrification. Recent studies show that similar restored wetlands can reduce nitrate concentrations by 68% and phosphorus concentrations by 43% (Woltemade 1999, 2000, Mitsch and Montgomery 1998).
  • Restored hydrology will allow deeper water to pool within the wetlands, increasing the diversity of wetland habitats for both plants and animals while also improving site aesthetics.
  • The restored wetlands and riparian buffer will complement each other in reducing nonpoint sources of nutrients. The Burd Run project design will be similar to an Illinois restoration project that combines restored wetlands with a healthy riparian zone to provide substantial water quality benefits (Woltemade 1999, 2000, Kovacic 1998).

4. Enhancing education and community outreach Educational programs will be developed for the general public, school groups, and university students. Hundreds of park users will learn from a network of interpretive nature trails that will guide visitors to experience each of the riparian environments and emphasize the importance of watershed protection. Public education will also target people not already involved in community environmental issues through press releases, lectures, a project web site, and two educational videos. Shippensburg University, the Rowland School, and Shippensburg public schools, all located less than five miles from the project site, will develop regular educational field trips. This project builds on over three years of data collection and stream restoration design studies conducted at Shippensburg University (SU). The project will utilize an extensive watershed database and water quality monitoring program conducted at the Burd Run Interdisciplinary Watershed Research Laboratory, a National Science Foundation funded effort at SU.

The restoration project will combine the capabilities of the Cumberland County Conservation District with over 20 community and agency partners, including:

  • Shippensburg University
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Shippensburg Township
  • Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Pennsylvania Audubon Society
  • Boy Scouts / Eagle Scouts
  • Pennsylvania Game Commission
  • Rowland School/ Shippensburg Public Schools
  • Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry
  • Jeff Coy, PA State Representative
  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • Shippensburg Borough
  • Franklin County Conservation District
For additional information, contact:
Brian Jaymes Cumberland County Conservation District 43 Brookwood Ave. Suite 4 Carlisle, PA 17013 Tel: 717-240-7812 e-mail:  
Christopher Woltemade Dept. of Geography-Earth Science Shippensburg University 1871 Old Main Drive Shippensburg, PA 17257 Tel: 717-477-1143 e-mail: