First West Branch Susquehanna River Mini-Symposium Attracts 50 On Tour

On July 16, about 50 people gathered at Duman Lake County Park for the first of six educational workshops and tours focusing on abandoned mine drainage in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed.

Hosted by Trout Unlimited in partnership with the Clearfield & Cambria County Conservation Districts, and the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority, this particular workshop and tour focused on the headwaters of the West Branch in Cambria County and included presentations on the history of coal mining in the area, local efforts to combat abandoned mine drainage, the economic benefits of cleaning up mine drainage, and a slide show highlighting the West Branch watershed.

Special guests from Broad Top Township, Bedford County, also came to share how their township officials have partnered with the community to restore their local watershed by installing a series of abandoned mine drainage treatment systems. Because the township is so involved with these systems, they have been able to employ people from the local community to construct, operate and maintain these systems, benefiting both the local economy and the local environment.

After hearing the presentations, the group had a picnic lunch and then departed for an afternoon tour. (click hereto see tour photos)

The first stop on the tour was at the current site of the Barnes & Tucker Lancashire #15 mine drainage treatment plant where the group learned how the mine pool blew out in the 1970’s causing polluted water to enter the West Branch Susquehanna, killing aquatic life and causing a major fish kill downstream at Curwensville Lake in Clearfield County. Following the blow out, the current system was constructed to treat the mine water and send it into Blacklick Creek.

The Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission have plans underway to construct a new treatment plant for the Lancashire #15 discharge near Northern Cambria that would lower treatment costs and enable the treated water to be directed into the West Branch Susquehanna River where it originally flowed. The group visited the new site later in the tour, where site preparations have recently begun.

Other stops on the tour included the treatment site of the Lancashire #20 mine discharge, the Bakerton Rod & Gun Club passive treatment system, and the site of the former Barnes-Watkins coal refuse pile near Bakerton. Officials explained how all of these combined restoration efforts have made a positive impact on the health of the West Branch and the local community. The tour concluded back at Duman Lake Park.

Next Mini-Symposiums/Tours

Five more workshops and tours
 are scheduled throughout the West Branch watershed, the next of which is being held in the Anderson Creek sub-watershed on August 15. Other tours are planned for--

-- August 21-- Moshannon Creek Abandoned Mine Drainage Symposium and Tour;
-- September 19 -- Clearfield Creek Abandoned Mine Drainage Symposium and Tour; and
-- Coming Soon -- Beech Creek and Babb Creek Symposium and tour.

These tours are being hosted by Trout Unlimited and the Clearfield County Conservation District utilizing funding from DEP’s Environmental Education Grant Program, the R.K. Mellon Foundation, and the PA League of Women Voters Water Resource Education Network grant program.

For more information or to reserve a space on one of these free tours, please call Trout Unlimited at (570) 748-4901 or send email to:, or check out the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition’s website.

(Submitted by Rachel Kester, Trout Unlimited, 570-748-4901 or send email


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