Fishing Creek Nature Preserve is a 170 acre preserve located in southern Lancaster County. It is a unique spot, not only because of the beautiful hemlock dominated valley it includes, but because a public road, Fishing Creek Road, runs through the middle of the preserve along Fishing Creek, and crosses the stream at three fords. Historically, this has encouraged off-roading activity here which is extremely damaging to the hemlock forest that dominates the valley, wetland and riparian (i.e. stream side) habitats, and the high-quality cold-water fishery in the stream itself.
The Conservancy’s stewardship team has faced several management challenges at Fishing Creek, including off-roading and a lack of native tree and shrub regeneration on the floodplain. With support from our partners – the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and PA State Police – and ongoing education efforts and patrols, off-roading has dramatically reduced, and as a result, forest and stream health has improved.
A healthy forest should have a trees and shrubs of various ages. Recently, through the annual monitoring process, our stewardship team recognized that the Fishing Creek floodplain forest did not have young native trees and shrubs, possibly a result of other nonnative plants growing in that ecosystem, which often out-compete native plants. As part of our efforts last year to armor the preserve and restore project sites from illegal vehicular activity and in collaboration with Drumore Township preparing to implement a long-term sustainability plan for the road authored by the Lancaster County Conservation District and the Dirt and Gravel Foundation, staff and volunteers planted 500 native trees and shrubs this spring as part of this comprehensive reforestation effort.
The culmination of this spring’s work was the release of hundreds of trout into Fishing Creek by our partners from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat and Game Commissions. Improved through the efforts of the Conservancy and our partners, Fishing Creek Nature Preserve is a spectacular place, supporting a vital ecosystem and water resource, and there for us all to visit and enjoy, responsibly.
Header photo: Nick Gould
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