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Wildlands Conservancy receives grant to enhance Little Lehigh Creek

Published March 25. 2011 05:01PM

Wildlands has recently been awarded a grant from the American Rivers & National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Community-based Restoration Program to complete the Little Lehigh Creek Dam Removal Design project. The Little Lehigh project is one of only 12 nation-wide, and one of three in the mid-Atlantic region, to receive funding this year.

Wildlands Conservancy will use the American Rivers/NOAA funding to complete the engineering and permitting required for the removal of the first three dams (from the confluence with the Lehigh River) on the Little Lehigh Creek. These funds will match recently awarded existing funds from a Growing Greener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for this project.

"The Little Lehigh Creek is a regional treasure and our work to restore a natural free-flowing stream system will contribute to the continued improvements to this special natural resource." remarks Christopher M. Kocher, president of Wildlands Conservancy.

The eventual removal of the dams in question will restore migratory fish passage, greatly improve water quality by reducing thermal pollution and restoring natural stream flows and sediment transport, reduce flooding and associated damage, and remove significant public safety hazards from the City's park system.

The large scope of this project requires it be completed in two phases. Present funding will assist to complete the design, engineering and permitting phase of the project. Once this phase is complete, Wildlands Conservancy will seek additional funding for the actual removal of the dams.

The Little Lehigh Creek is classified as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery (HQ-CWF), but suffers from the non-point source pollution and habitat degradation typical of streams in urban areas, and as a result is listed on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's ( Pa. DEP) integrated list of impaired waters.

All three of the Little Lehigh dams are owned by the City of Allentown.

"We are very pleased with our significant partnership with the City of Allentown and their continued support of our important conservation work." comments Kocher, "Other projects underway in Allentown include the restoration of Trout Creek, a large tributary to the Little Lehigh on the Integrated List of impaired waterbodies; the management of invasive plant species throughout the City's expansive parks system; the establishment of riparian buffers and no-mow zones throughout the City; and the restoration of the Jordan Creek as it flows through the City's Jordan Park.

There is a national trend to remove dams with the state of Pennsylvania leading in the number of removals. Locally, Wildlands Conservancy has removed dams and sees dam removal as a key component of improving our local water sources.

For more information on these and other rivers conservation projects, contact Dr. Abigail Pattishall, director of rivers conservation, at 610.965.4397, ext. 125 or email

About Wildlands Conservancy

Wildlands Conservancy's mission is to protect and restore critical natural areas and waterways, and educate the community to create a legacy of a healthy, sustainable environment for future generations. Founded in 1973, the Conservancy has protected more than 48,000 acres of eastern Pennsylvania's farmland and wild lands, created more than 90 miles of terrestrial aquatic trails, and has educated more than 500,000 individuals on responsible environmental stewardship and management.

Wildlands Conservancy is a non-profit organization with 19 full-time staff members working out of its offices at the 77.5-acre Pool Wildlife Sanctuary in Emmaus, PA. For more information on the organization and its programs visit

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