Restoring Oughoughton Creek in Northampton County

Wildlands Conservancy, in partnership with Martins-Jacoby Watershed Association (MJWA), completed the restoration of nearly one-mile of the Oughoughton Creek, a direct tributary to the Delaware River in Northampton County – a project years in the making.

Focus On a Priority Landscape in Northampton County

The Oughoughton Creek flows through Upper Mount Bethel and Washington Townships, winding its way through some of the County’s characteristic farmland before entering the Delaware River in Bangor in Lower Mount Bethel Township.

The undertaking was conceived and developed 14 years ago by MJWA’s project manager John Mauser, who flagged farmlands directly adjacent to the water’s edge where the soil is composed of highly erodible cobble and loose boulders called “glacial till.” Citing stormwater runoff, increasing loss of farmlands, and other negative environmental impacts, Wildlands and MJWA worked together to create a large partnership network and opened conversations with local landowners across four contiguous, high priority sections.

Extreme Erosion and The Power of Partnerships

“The erosion in some sections was so severe that it created 30-foot vertical stream banks where there used to be gentle slopes,” says Kristie Fach, Wildlands Conservancy’s director of ecological restoration. “Every time there was a storm, these farmers were losing their land. It would literally wash downstream to the Delaware, only to introduce fertilizers to the water supply while compromising critical wildlife habitat.”

“Looking at the scope of the project, the MJWA’s normal partners were not able to help move the project forward due to the stream length and site conditions occurring on the Oughoughton Creek.  With only partial funding in place and limited personal time, it became imperative to work with an organization with the expertise in planning, securing permitting, and finding additional funding,” says Mauser. “Wildlands Conservancy filled the bill and insured that the MJWA would be involved in planning and maintaining local community relations.”

Project priorities included regrading the streambanks the reconnect the stream to its natural floodplain, planting riparian buffers, strips of native trees and shrubs that root the soil and filter runoff before it enters the waterway, installing in-stream structures to restore wildlife habitat, and installing agricultural best management practices to help the landowners.

Alex Poliskiewicz is the grandson of landowner Marilyn Mehas. He grew up with the Ouhoughton Creek and has been farming the property for the last four years, converting the fields from corn to hay.  He appreciates the restoration that was accomplished with the resources that were made available.

“They strategically placed fortifications where the erosion really goes. It is a blessing because it was cutting into our farm pretty good,” says Poliskiewicz. “Everybody involved really did fantastic. I couldn’t be happier with how it looks.”

Thanks To Our Giving Community

Wildlands acknowledges the support of its giving community and funding from Martins-Jacoby Watershed Association, Northampton County, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Niagara Bottling, as well as the support of PPL Electric Utilities’ Community Roots tree donation program, for making the Ouhoughton Creek stream restoration project possible.

To continue advancing the whole health of the Lehigh River watershed, Wildlands is forwarding plans to restore the Little Bushkill Creek and will soon after focus efforts on the Bushkill Creek, both in Northampton County.

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