Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2016

Academic Department



The Conewago Creek is one of three USDA Chesapeake Bay Showcase Watersheds. Over 40 miles of the Conewago are impaired due to sediment and nutrient loading from agriculture. For more than a decade, a variety of projects have been employed throughout the watershed to improve the Conewago and its tributaries. This research assesses the current state of the Hershey Meadows, a recently restored portion of the Creek outside Elizabethtown, PA. At Hershey Meadows, more than 15 acres of wetlands and one mile of stream channel were restored. For this study, three sites sampled three times during the fall of 2015 using the PA DEP’s Instream Comprehensive Stream Evaluation Protocol ( PA DEP, 2009). Habitat assessment, pebble counts and the Index of Biotic Integrity were determined at each site. The habitat assessment indicated poor conditions throughout, with increasing uniformity in fine particle sediments downstream. The pebble count indicated a shift in frequency from sand and gravel to silt along that axis and the IBI results show that macroinvertebrate diversity decreased with distance as well. The uppermost site showed improved sediment and macroinvertebrate conditions from prior monitoring, and while still impaired, had fewer fine particles and greater diversity. The two downstream sites have yet to show changes in the bottom sediments and macroinvertebrate habitat, reflecting either the slow migration of fines being removed from the streambed upstream and/or the impact of an impaired tributary.


Senior Thesis.

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