Environment Erie

Focus on Fourmile Creek

Jan 25, 2011 | Posted in Restoration Success Stories

Four Mile Creek

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Fourmile Creek is a stream on the east side of the Erie urban area flowing through the municipalities of Greene, Harborcreek, Wesleyville and Lawrence Park (see map). From its headwaters to the mouth, this stream reaches approximately 8 miles in length. Its watershed encompasses 11.93 square miles, including densely developed areas from Route 5 southward to 38th St, then on southward becoming much more rural in character.

  • PLEWA completed a Strategic Action Plan for PA’s Lake Erie drainage basin ranking water quality in 22 streams flowing into Lake Erie.
  • Fourmile Creek is ranked as having the 4th lowest quality of these streams.
  • Lower reaches of Fourmile Creek have slightly degraded or poor conditions.
  • Benthic macroinvertebrate communities in its upper reaches are in good condition - Due largely to the fact that there are little or no non-point source pollution problems there.
  • PLEWA subcommittee for Fourmile Creek has been working to make improvements.
  • Partners include: PA Sea Grant, PA Coastal Zone Management program, the Wesleyville Conservation Club, and Penn State Behrend.

Stream Impediments

One of Fourmile’s most distinctive characteristics is that it includes numerous impediments in the stream.

  • 2 Dams - one located near the mouth at the Lawrence Park Golf Course - one located immediately south of Station Road (see photos).
  • 1 Waterfall approx. 5 ft tall - located about midpoint between Cooper Rd and I-90
  • Concrete slab 1’ thick x 3’ wide along the entire breadth of the waterfall creating a 3rd dam-like structure.
  • 1 Locomotive Ballast (large chunks of concrete partially encased in metal) at various locations in the lower reaches of the stream.
  • This ballast may have originally been placed in the stream in an attempt to stabilize bank erosion or possibly to eliminate swimming holes to keep people out of the stream.

Efforts are now being discussed to remove or alter these impediments to return the stream to a more natural flow and to improve the ability of fish to swim from the mouth up to the upper reaches of the stream. Funds are being provided by the Iroquois School District (ISD), which is in the process of constructing a new school necessitating the realignment and piping of a small tributary to Fourmile Creek.

ISD has been asked by the PA Department of Environmental Protection to pay $20,000 to mitigate the encapsulation of this waterway and half of that fee must be directly applied to improvements within Fourmile Creek.

Improvements

  • Remove the dam at the Nacopoulos property near Station Road.
  • Remove the cap on the concrete-covered waterfall located on the Penn State Behrend campus.
  • Modify the golf course dam to allow fish passage.

The PA Fish and Boat Commission (PA FBC) is working with ISD in obtaining the permits necessary for removal of these impediments and developing the design drawings necessary to bid this project to a local contractor. These two impediments removal projects are expected take place during summer of 2007. The PA FBC and the Lawrence Park Golf Club are working on proposed Fish ladders be installed at this dam and at the waterfall located between the dam and Route 5. PA Sea Grant is working with them to prepare grant applications for the purchase and installation costs. If funded, fish ladders would be installed in 2008.

With these improvements, the stream may return to a condition that will enable fish migration, benefitting the local tourism industry. But more importantly, these changes will clearly demonstrate that the Erie area cares about improving its quality of life by improving the quality of its environment.

Written by Dave Skellie, PA Sea Grant


UPDATE

By Dave Skellie, PA Sea Grant

January 25, 2011

Lots has happened in Fourmile Creek since 2007 with more on the way. Completed are the removal of the two dams, a huge stormwater/erosion & sediment control project at Penn State Behrend, installation of a fish ladder at the Lawrence Park Golf Club dam, and design for a fish bypass around the LP Golf Course waterfall. On the way is the construction of the bypass by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, likely this summer, so that steelhead will be making their way far up the stream, hopefully to Wintergreen Gorge at Behrend. This latest information about the bypass is just getting released to the public, so it is exciting news that the original project continues moving on.