A plan to restore at least 2.5 miles of a Lancaster County creek to precolonial days has enlisted expertise from two Franklin & Marshall geoscientists, as well as F&M’s cooperation in providing an easement for a public walking trail included in the project.
Spearheaded by the Steinman Foundation, a generous benefactor to the Lancaster community and F&M, the Little Conestoga Blue-Green Corridor Project is a response to orders by federal and state regulators to reduce sediment-related pollution along local waterways, according to a recent Lancaster Online article.
“We are just providing expert advice so far, but it depends on the level of funding moving forward,” Professor of Geosciences Robert Walter said. “If they can generate enough funds to do pre- and post-restoration monitoring, we will be even more heavily involved. We're not sure how critical that kind of monitoring is to the overall project, though.”
Walter and his partner, Harry W. & Mary B. Huffnagle Professor of Geosciences Dorothy Merritts, are among the nation’s leading scientists in stream restoration and mitigation. More than a decade ago, they demonstrated the effect of “legacy sediment” at Big Spring Run.
The pair’s groundbreaking research uncovered the original Big Spring Run, a meandering stream in Lancaster farmland, hidden by the buildup of centuries of sediment created by European settlers who erected dams, mills, and established farm operations, along waterways.
Merritts and Walter are mentoring F&M senior geoscience major Jevelson Jean, who is doing research to create a story map on the Big Spring Run and Little Conestoga projects, funded by F&M’s Center for Sustained Engagement with Lancaster.
As the Little Conestoga project goes forward, a walking trail that will pass through F&M’s Baker Campus will require a small easement. F&M looks forward to receiving a detailed proposal on what exactly will be required, said Alan Caniglia, vice president for strategic initiatives.
The project’s initial cost estimate is $14 million.