Canoe Creek is a High Quality Cold Water Fishery that runs through Canoe Creek State Park before entering the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River. At the project location, the stream is bordered by an abandoned railroad grade, currently utilized by hikers and horses. The river's right bank showed signs of erosion due to low vegetation as a direct result of trail maintenance practices. Over time, a portion of the stream had become severely eroded; causing sediment and gravel to wash from the existing stream banks and build up downstream. This condition not only created a chronic problem with bank degradation, but also placed stress on the aquatic community and limited the reproductive capacity of fish populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), and the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation (WFEF) collaborated to develop and implement a stream restoration plan for this site. The goal of the restoration project was to restore the stream channel to more natural dimensions and install a structure that would minimize bank erosion and enhance the aquatic habitat. The USFWS provided planning, design, and construction expertise, PENNDOT obtained the permits and provided materials, and WFEEF provided financial management services.
Once the proper channel dimensions were established for the stream, a 110-foot long mudsill was constructed on the outside curve on river right, following specifications by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. It was built using a combination of logs and 15-foot decking. The mudsill was installed perpendicular to the stream flow and extends out over the water three to four feet. Soil and gravel lifts were placed on top of the structure to create an overhanging bank, which was stabilized with seed and mulch. The sill logs serve to slow water velocities next to the bank, and the overhanging bank provides ideal habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
This project has multiple benefits which include decreasing erosion, thus significantly stabilizing the banks; and improving the aquatic habitat by providing a more natural and healthy stream channel. Reduced erosion in the stream makes it more conducive to fish reproduction and the mudsill provides areas of habitat for many aquatic species. Significant improvement is anticipated in regards to the ecological functions of this portion of the stream restoring more natural flow to create a flourishing ecosystem.