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Jacobs Creek Watershed plans busy year of projects

Stephen Huba

Members of the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association braved the elements on Wednesday to announce a series of 2019 projects that will remove 20,000 pounds of trash, plant 200 trees and mitigate the effects of 2 million gallons of stormwater.

“We’re doing some really big things this year as a result of our 20th anniversary,” said Annie Quinn, JCWA executive director.

Members gathered at Jacobs Creek Park at Greenlick Run Lake to make the announcement but then repaired to the Mt. Pleasant Public Library because of high winds at the lake.

Originally founded in the 1970s to address flooding in the Scottdale area, the organization received nonprofit status in 1999, making this its 20th year as a conservation organization dedicated to protecting the Jacobs Creek watershed in Westmoreland and Fayette counties.

Jacobs Creek originates in the Laurel Highlands and eventually makes its way to the Youghiogheny River.

Quinn said two projects totaling $818,000 will address the problem of stormwater runoff in Mt. Pleasant borough and township.

The Shop ’n Save Parking Lot Green Infrastructure Project will use rain gardens, water quality inlets and underground infiltration beds to divert stormwater away from Shupe Run, which flows into Jacobs Creek, she said.

“When you think about stormwater, think about the impact of 1 inch of water spread out over 90,000 square feet,” Quinn said. “All of that water is destroying Shupe Run in a phenomenal amount of flows.”

Construction bids for the project will be opened on March 6, and work is expected to begin later in the spring.

The Route 31 Sidewalk Project will replace impervious sections of sidewalk in Mt. Pleasant Borough with porous pavers and stormwater management grates.

“This will be an opportunity for us to beautify Mt. Pleasant in a way that will have aesthetic appeal, while also meeting our green infrastructure goals of handling the stormwater here in town,” Quinn said. “This will take 2 million gallons of stormwater out of the creek and out of someone’s basement.”

The JCWA also will plant 200 trees and bushes as part of a riparian buffer program at West Overton Village & Museum near Scottdale. The program calls for two out of a total of nine acres to be planted this year.

“This riparian buffer will actually be multifunctional – it will handle stream quality and it will provide services to the individuals and properties it is on,” Quinn said.

Another goal for the 20th anniversary year is to remove 20,000 pounds of trash from the watershed, with a focus on illegal tire dumping.

The JCWA will hold a no-questions-asked tire roundup that will culminate on March 23. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to collect tires and bring them to Scottdale on that day. The association will pay 50 cents a tire. A drop-off site is yet to be determined.

“One of the sources of illegal dumping is we’re putting up too many barriers for people to do the right thing,” Quinn said. “The more barriers you put up, the more likely people are going to choose the wrong thing.”

In addition to stormwater, cleanup and conservation efforts, the JCWA is expanding recreation opportunities at Greenlick Run Lake, Bridgeport Pond and Acme Dam, she said.

Through a new recreation equipment program, members will be able to rent new canoes, single and tandem kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards during two “pop up” paddling events per month from May through September.

Quinn said the partnership with Performance Kayak of West Newton will make it easier for people to recreate in Jacobs Creek watershed parks.

“If you don’t have the money or even the vehicle to transport your equipment safely to and from a lake, how are you ever going to get on it?” she said. “Our goal is to meet that environmental justice need where everyone has an equal opportunity to get on the water.”

Equipment rentals will be free to JCWA members. The association offers a volunteer membership that requires 10 hours of volunteer service rather than a membership fee.

“Our hope is that individuals will spend 10 hours picking up tires and picking up trash with us or planting trees, and then at the end of that year, we will have them in a boat having fun as the reward for that work,” Quinn said.

The JCWA also received funding to install $170,000 in playground equipment at Jacobs Creek Park by the end of the year, she said. The playground is part of a master site plan for the park.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.


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Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Members of the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association gather at Jacobs Creek Park @ Greenlick Lake on Wednesday to announce programs for 2019.