Fall 2018 – Middle Tributaries

Written by Nancy Baxter

CHANGES/THINGS TO NOTE

TS30 – Willow Run East
No monitors

TS35- Willow Run West (Armentrout Preserve)
Monitored Sept by Ed Appelbaum; Nov by Ed & Laurie Appelbaum

Sept: Walking: lots of yellow jacket activity in ground on rim of retention basin
The several wasp nests and live wasps in the main entrance kiosk to the Preserve, reported to Lindsay by Data Analyzer in separate email, were empty and only one live wasp.
Remains of bird seen on trail. (Photo #1)

Nov: Walking- water flow started at spring house
Some standing water in retention basin, but none flowing out toward spring house (Photo #2)
No trash/litter
Walking paths well trimmed for easy walking

TS40- Rose Valley Creek- Robbins Park
Not monitored since Oct. 2017

TS50-Rose Valley Creek – Ambler Borough Park.
Monitored Oct & Nov by Mary-Margaret Monser

Oct: Riparian buffer – some areas along creek are much more robust with plantings that are supportive to the buffer than others, such as TS50 site, which has trees but no shrubs, resulting in significant erosion of the tree roots. (Photo #3)
Diverse wildlife: birds, insects, deer, large school of fish clearly seen (Photo #4); Large water snake reportedly seen further upstream by boys earlier in month

Nov: water color brown due to sediment stirred up by storm previous day; pool of fish difficult to see in muddy water
Kindergarten class found a box turtle and salamanders uncovered under rocks
Leaves fallen along the bank make for slippery conditions

Oct: Walking – Park is getting more consistent use, with resultant increase in trash.
Many Dog walkers, who readily use dog stations.
Deer and fox continue to be noted in the park. Fox is of concern to neighbors – one followed a neighbor walking small dog in the park in early morning and continued up to her porch after she went in.  3 fox reportedly live in the park.
The 2 Elm and 1 Swamp Oak planted in the spring are doing well.

Nov: Walking- overflow pipe at well house continues to discharge water causing path to be impassable on both sides of the loop (Photo #5); also causing riparian buffer erosion.  (Photo #6).
Redtail Restoration Land Management has recently been working in multiple sites on removing invasives including bush honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, and wineberry.
Very tenuous riparian buffer areas where it looks like the mud will slough off into the creek with the next storm.

TS52: Sept. little wildlife seen, likely due to adjacent construction
New climbing vine traveling over top of riparian vegetation and up a couple trees along banks
Usual small amount of trash within banks and in riparian area.
Oct: new bank erosion; continued
bank erosion most visible under tree roots. (Photo #8)
Nov: invasive vines and honeysuckle bushes easier to see with decrease in riparian vegetation. (Photo #9). Creek watcher plans on cutting vines in winter.
Same erosion under tree roots along the bank.

TS70: Sept – “On habitat Assessment, low scores given for vegetative protection even though lots of riparian vegetation for some distance, but is largely Japanese Knotweed and believe invasives are supposed to be scored low. As for sediment – no deposition in the main part of our site, but further downstream there was quite an increase this past year – the construction on PA Avenue probably a factor- probably an 8.
Site photos from Nov: Photo #9, Photo #10.

TS71: Sept- strong odor coming from nearby construction site. Riparian vegetation decreasing in height and density. Noted a new climbing vine, and after checking with WVWA personnel, thinks it’s porcelain berry and will try to pull out by roots next visit Very little signs of wildlife; 2 fish, birds, insects. No tracks on point bar, which is not typical.
Oct: New bank erosion. (Photo #15) Signs of high water levels since Sept, including flattened vegetation and silt deposition as far from stream as paved pedestrian walkway (Photo #11). Significant debris on pedestrian bridge west of PA Ave.
Construction of temporary bridge completed on PA Ave; permanent replacement has begun, even closer to monitoring site. A section of the stream was contained (via sheeting) at the bridge site, allowing a small section of stream to flow through. (Photo #14). As the Creek Watcher was leaving, the contained section was being pumped out .. the discharge was allowed to flow over the pedestrian walkway into the stream. The discharge was heavily silted (Photo # 13). This excessive noise, vibration and odor likely frightening away wildlife that would normally be seen.
Nov: minimal water clarity (opaque/chocolate milk) from discharge from upstream construction site continues, making sighting of stream bed, vegetation, amphibians, fish, etc. very difficult. Walking: (repeats and adds to Site findings in such a concise way, they are quoted below:
“1. Bridge construction continuing at nearby Pennsylvania Avenue; construction often occurs on Saturdays as well. 2. Water clarity very low at site; noted impact of silt, etc, coming from bridge construction site. At monitoring site, the stream bed was only visible at the edges of the stream. 3. Logs jammed under pedestrian bridge. 4. Other than birds, didn’t note any wildlife. 5. Typical amount of garbage, including plastic bottles swept up in the upstream log jam.
Signs of very high water level since prior monitoring event. 2. Lots of debris washed up on pedestrian bridge, and in riparian area. Mostly branches, some garbage. 3. Construction activity is active and close; at the time of my visit, silty water was being pumped from a section being contained under the construction site in the stream. 4. Little signs of wildlife. 5. Incremental signs of erosion along stream bed. 6. Invasive vine growing along tops of riparian vegetation and up tree trunks.”
OVERALL PICTURE
The tributaries for the most part had clear water, no surface coatings, algae cover, nor aquatic plants; they were consistent with lower canopy cover and riparian vegetation, resulting in an increase of leaf clumps.
As with last time, the flow rates didn’t seem to jibe with the in-stream features, but that could be because of how the conditions were interpreted.
Two sites (TS52, TS71) reported new bank erosion, while the others checked off ‘No change/continued bank erosion. These two – Roslyn Park and Sandy Run Creek – are on Sandy Creek, and were added to the existing site on the Piszek Preserve within the last year, as Sandy Run is the largest tributary to the Wissahickon and is having construction projects that have had an impact on the health of this Creek, listed in ‘Changes/Things to Note’
NEEDS ATTENTION:
TS35- are yellow jackets and wasps gone (at least until Spring?)
TS50 – Ambler Borough Park: Kindergarten Class exploring creek, overturning rocks to see what’s under: salamanders in November, Is this wonderful learning activity affecting the creek negatively?
Increase in park use = increase in trash. Can Borough put up more trash/recycling cans?
Ongoing problem of discharge water from overflow pipe at the well house flooding the path. Borough issue? Can it not be resolved? If flooding cannot be controlled, perhaps boardwalks over the paths?
Foxes in Ambler Borough Park: a viable concern of neighbors, but could they somehow negatively affect the creek health?
TS71 – a close eye should be kept on the bridge construction at Pennsylvania Ave and its effect on the stream health as well as riparian vegetation and wildlife: the silty discharge, new erosion, accumulation of debris – plastic bottles, garbage, tree branches, etc.; log jam under pedestrian bridge.
Both TS52 and TS71 have noted new invasive vines/shrubs and both creek watch teams have removed some. Kudos to them. Additional help may be needed to finalize removal.
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