Division of Water Quality Standards
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
We are pleased to support the Petition by the Aquashicola/ Pohopoco Watershed Conservancy to change the designation of Aquashicola Creek, from a High Quality Coldwater Fishery (HQ) to Exceptional Value (EV). The requested segment would be from the source to the confluence with Buckwha Creek. We agree that these waters should be given the highest level of protection.
We want to protect this valuable resource for the following reasons:
Location: The upper section of the Aquashicola Creek is still relatively undeveloped. It links contiguous preserved tracts of land including sections of the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge and PA State Game Lands 168. The creek also runs parallel to the Kittatinny Ridge, a world famous Migratory Corridor and the Appalachian Trail. It is near areas of historical significance such as Ross Common Manor and Ross Common Spring Water.
Exceptional Value Wetlands: The Aquashicola Creek runs through wetlands that are given special protection under Pennsylvania Code because they are home to threatened and/or endangered species of both flora and fauna.
Class A Wild Trout Stream and Naturally Reproducing Trout Stream: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has designated sections of the Aquashicola Creek with these important titles.
Biological High Quality Criteria: Macroinvertebrate samplings done by both the Monroe County Water Quality Study and PA DEP in this area support upgrade to exceptional value.
Updates since 2010 filing:
Litigation concerning Alpine Rose has been settled, contested land is now part of State Game Lands 168.
A species of dragonfly, the Brook Snaketail, was discovered for the first time in Pennsylvania on the creek near SGL 168.
1,000 acres in both Ross and Eldred Townships were added to SGL 168 upstream from the Alpine property. This tract is on both sides of the creek.
Ross Common Creek, a major tributary of the petitioned stream, is located entirely in the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge boundary extends approx. eight miles downstream along the Ross Common and Aquashicola Creeks.
In 2008, we began our quest to redesignate Aquashicola Creek, starting at the headwaters of Ross Common Creek in Ross township to the confluence with Buckwha Creek in Little Gap, from a High Quality Cold Water Fishery (HQ-CWF) to an Exceptional Value (EV) stream. The Pennsylvania Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP) sets these qualifications. After nearly two years of research and data gathering to compile a list of qualifiers, we submitted our Petition for Redesignation to DEP in September of 2010 where it was accepted and sent to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The EQB accepted our Petition for further study in December 2010. And there it has remained.
Our main qualifiers:
At that time, we faced a huge legal challenge in the form of a proposed private race track called Alpine Rose. This monstrosity was to be built on the banks of Aquashicola Creek in Eldred township and would have stretched up to the Appalachian Trail on the side of Kittatinny Ridge. It would have required blasting and huge earth disturbances during construction. When up and running, pollutants such as oil, gasoline, and other such things would run off into the creek. Noise from the track would ruin the peace and quiet of this rural area.
After 11 years of fighting this track, a coalition of many environmental groups and state and federal agencies prevailed, and the 360 acre property was added to State Gamelands 168. That story would need a book to detail all the hard work and time spent on defeating Alpine. Blue Mountain Preservation Association was a very small dedicated group that kept the heat on Alpine and took them to court several times.
In the ensuing years, we made sure DEP was aware of all changes in the watershed that would affect our Petition. A list: