Conservation & Education
Formed in 1998 to combat the increasing concerns over the health of our local rivers, our award-winning Stream Team, supported by a group of driven volunteers is leading the way to cleaner water and healthier aquatic communities.
Did you know?
The Stream Team monitors 45 AMD treatment sites, manages over 260 sampling sites in five counties, provides technical assistance to watershed groups and conservation districts, and works in schools to connect students with Nature.
Clean water is vital for life and the Stream Team works everyday to revitalize polluted watersheds. To achieve our clean water goals, we rely on our most valuable asset – you! We promote environmental stewardship by engaging citizens like you to aid in the monitoring of dozens of Abandoned Mine Discharges (AMDs) within the 1,887 square-mile Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin.
Thanks to volunteers like you, once orange-rust rivers are becoming clearer and populations of fish, bald eagles, and aquatic mammals are rebounding throughout the region. Join Stream Team and see firsthand the difference people can make on their environment.
What is AMD?
A result of the historic coal and steel industries that once thrived in our region, Abandoned Mine Drainage is a form of pollution that has impacted our waterways. AMD often lowers the pH of water and coats stream beds with metal-laden sludge, devastating the diversity and abundance of aquatic life and ruining the stream’s aesthetic features.
Water Monitoring & Technical Assistance
We utilize a variety of monitoring programs and conduct surveys to enhance our progress. Learn more about vital Stream Team programs.
Conservation organizations can treat AMD before it enters streams; however, data are needed to design and evaluate the effectiveness of the AMD treatment systems. Our volunteers and staff provide these data in cooperation with the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Resulting data are stored in the DEP’s Sampling Information System, posted on Datashed, and shared with the appropriate organizations to support restoration work. This work has earned well over $2 million in restoration grants and helped protect over $15 million worth of investments in AMD treatment systems.
Utilizing a grant from the Colcom Foundation, we’ve expanded water monitoring through use of in-stream data loggers that measure a stream’s water level, temperature, and conductivity every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Macroinvertebrate and fish surveys, as well as visual inspections and field readings provide baseline data and track changes in the streams.
The Stream Team is a member of the Consortium for Scientific Assistance to Watersheds, which provides technical assistance to eligible watershed groups. We offer macroinvertebrate collection and identification workshops, training on the use of data loggers, environmental education programming, advise on volunteer management, water monitoring, project management, and more.
The Stream Team offers biological monitoring and project management as a fee-for-service.
Stream Team Documents
In 2013, utilizing funds from the Coldwater Heritage Partnership Program, the Stream Team published a Coldwater Conservation Plan for Beaverdam Run, a headwater stream in the Shade Creek Watershed in Somerset County. Beaverdam Run is a former Class A wild trout water that was delisted due to a decline in trout biomass. The upper portion of Beaverdam Run is classified by the state as a High-Quality Coldwater Fishery, while the lower portion is a coldwater fishery.
Download the Beaverdam Run Coldwater Conservation Plan (PDF, 10.6 MB)
The Stream Team utilized a grant from the Coldwater Heritage Partnership Program to prepare and publish a coldwater conservation plan for Somerset County’s Clear Shade Creek and two of its tributaries, Piney Run and Cub Run. The purposes of this plan were to gather data on this exceptional value watershed, identify threats to it, and plan a course of prevention and protection.
Download the Clear Shade Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan (PDF, 4.35 MB)
On behalf of the Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association, the Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team gathered data and compiled historical information to publish the Little Paint Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan in December 2011. Little Paint Creek is a second order stream with the best water quality in the 36 square-mile Paint Creek Watershed. The entire Little Paint Creek watershed is classified as a Coldwater Fishery by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Focus on the headwaters of Little Paint Creek and its tributaries provided good baseline data on the aquatic health of these stream segments, and the plan recommends specific protection and enhancement measures. As a result of its survey of Fox’s Run during this project, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission listed Fox’s Run (UNT 45242) as a Wild Trout Water in 2011.
Additionally, the Stream Team collaborates with the Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association to coordinate an annual litter cleanup in this watershed. Over the last seven years, over 600 tires and 8 tons of trash have been removed from the Little Paint Creek Watershed.
Download the Little Paint Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan (PDF, 3.27 MB)
The Stream Team received grants from the Coldwater Heritage Partnership Program and Dominion Foundation/Western PA Conservancy to prepare and publish a coldwater conservation plan for Tubmill Creek in Westmoreland County. Tubmill Creek is an exceptional value stream from its source in Rachelwood to the Tubmill Reservoir. After the Reservoir, Tubmill Creek is classified as a Trout Stocked Fishery. Development and resource exploitation threaten this waterway.
Download the Tubmill Creek Coldwater Conservation Plan (PDF, 6.36 MB)
Beginning as early as the 1970s, watershed organizations and conservation groups began mobilizing to address the problems within the Kiski-Conemaugh River Valley. Industry and mining left the rivers orange and polluted. In the 90s, many issues within the watershed were documented in the original Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin Conservation Plan. Heavily utilized, about 88% of its 120 recommendations were implemented to some degree.
The waterways improved, and in 2013, the Stream Team secured funds to update the plan and document the recovery of our streams and rivers. Over four years of data collection, tabulation, and evaluation are gathered in The State of the Kiski-Conemaugh River Watershed: Community Shift. This document reveals that many our streams and rivers are transforming, changing from their once net acidic state to net alkaline; from fish poor to fish rich. Much work remains, but we are moving in the right direction.
Download the Executive Summary (PDF, 2.1MB)
Download The State of the Kiski-Conemaugh River Watershed: Community Shift (PDF, 41 MB)
Trout in the Classroom
Stream Team coordinates local Trout in the Classroom (TIC) projects. TIC is a program of Trout Unlimited and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission that allows students to raise brook trout fingerlings from eggs in a classroom aquarium throughout the school year, while learning the importance of Coldwater conservation. Students are responsible for daily care and maintenance of the aquarium system as the trout begin their marvelous transformation. In Spring, before the end of the year, the students release their trout into a state-approved body of water and often participate in a day of Outdoor Discovery Workshops. Volunteers can participate in these workshops, demonstrating their skills in tying flies, casting a fishing line, and more.
The Stream Team is proud to play a critical role in the NatureWorks event at the BottleWorks Ethnic Arts Center in Johnstown. NatureWorks is designed to educate families about many of the conservation and recreation organizations working to restore our natural resources and to promote an active lifestyle through low-impact use of our waterways and trails. Last year, over 300 people participated in hands-on, interactive activities led by over a dozen state agencies and local non-profit organizations. See our Event Calendar for details on the next NatureWorks.
Support Stream Team
We work with great effort to make sure every dollar counts! There are several ways that you can help the Stream Team. Do you love the outdoors? Help us collect water samples. Enjoy fishing or kayaking in local waterways? Consider joining CVC, giving a gift a few dollars a month, or adopting a site for AMD Water Monitoring.
For just $100 you can sponsor a water monitoring location for a whole year! Your name (or that of a loved one) will be listed in our annual report and you’ll be recognized on our Facebook page, unless you wish to remain anonymous.