AEC Awarded National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant for "Chiques Creek Reenvisioned"

Posted: November 20, 2015

The Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center has been awarded a grant to bring its signature watershed community engagement model to Chiques Creek, a priority watershed in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
The Chiques Creek Reenvisioned project will seek to build upon local successes, like this stream bank fencing project on Donegal Creek.

The Chiques Creek Reenvisioned project will seek to build upon local successes, like this stream bank fencing project on Donegal Creek.

Like many Lancaster County watersheds, the 125-square mile watershed faces water quality challenges related to nutrients and sediment. A mix of land uses that includes agriculture, urban and suburban contribute to stream impairments and other impacts.

Yet the Chiques has had a successful history of local involvement in restoration efforts, dating back to the work of the Donegal Fish and Conservation Association on the Donegal Creek, a major tributary, in the 1960s, and continuing to this day by the active Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance and other local partners.

Because of these successful local partnerships, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection selected the Chiques as a pilot watershed for a new approach to improving local water quality. DEP together with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission have conducted extensive baseline monitoring of the watershed to assess its current health and determine areas of focus. 

With the award of a Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center will provide additional resources to facilitate the development of a partnership in the watershed. This partnership will involve local organizations, local governments, the conservation district, regional conservation groups, and state and federal partners. Partners will work collaboratively to increase outreach and education of farmers and landowners in the watershed and implementation of land management practices to improve water quality.

Along with the AEC, Penn State Extension experts in agronomy, nutrient management, stormwater, and horticulture will contribute to the project. The Penn State Southeast Research and Extension Center, a College of Agricultural Sciences research farm, is located in the Chiques Watershed and will be a base for much of the programming. 

"We are thrilled to receive this grant from NFWF, and thank the Foundation for its generosity," said Matt Royer, AEC Director. "We hope to take lessons learned from our Conewago Creek Initiative project and build additional successes next door in the Chiques. It is a great community with very committed local leaders and landowners. We hope to play a small part in providing these leaders with resources and partnership facilitation to achieve our common goal of restoring this watershed." 

Work on the project will begin in 2016.