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Friday, April 10, 2015

Smart Spring Clean Up Tips: Footprints of Stewardship

The snow is finally gone! It’s time to get out in the sunshine and clean up your yard and property. As you do, be sure your yard wastes (leaves, branches, gravel & cinders from raking, pet waste, etc.) don’t end up in a nearby ditch, stream, or waterway. Even very small, often dry, streams and tributaries will carry non-point source pollution to larger rivers and lakes. 

Salt, silt, and bacterial contamination can cause great problems for our local waters and aquatic life. A primary focus of the McKean County Conservation District is protecting our county’s water resources from pollutants, erosion, and sedimentation. 

McKean County citizens are fortunate to have many rivers, streams, and smaller tributaries. These serve as important areas for wildlife, fisheries, and recreation. Many are close to home, no matter where you live. You can help with responsible stewardship of our local waterways. Remember that everything flows downstream; so pollution, sedimentation, or disturbance of a very small tributary can affect the larger watershed. 

Never dig in or alter a stream, no matter how small it may seem. These activities may require a permit. Don’t dump any foreign substances in a waterway, ditch, or storm drain, this includes wastewater, cleaning residue, chemicals, oil or gas, grass clippings, etc. Storm drain water is not typically treated before it flows into the waterway. Let local officials, the PA Fish & Boat Commission, or the Conservation District know if you are aware of any type of pollution to waterways.

Stormwater management is an important aspect of waterway care. Stormwater overwhelms areas during heavy rainfall or snow melt. Sometimes, especially in spring, local systems meant to contain this water exceed their capacity and the water continues around them on its way to the nearest waterway. 

Special management practices may help this water absorb back into the soil and prevent flooding. Rain gardens, vegetated swales, dry wells, and infiltration trenches are all techniques for homeowners to manage stormwater on their property. The McKean County Conservation District has information on these practices and how they can help in maintenance and problem situations. Visit the District website at - Department-Conservation for more information.

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