The Valley Forge Watershed Association is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization. The Association was formed in October 2002 by a group of concerned citizens that believe the beauty and enjoyment of the Schuylkill River will be best supported by unifying efforts of organizations that reside along the river and have a stakeholder interest in protecting her beauty and function. A focused results-driven approach, rather than fragmented efforts to get things done, is a founding principle and is one of the Association’s stated goals.
The Association’s mission is to promote the preservation and safe recreational use of the Schuylkill River bounded upstream by the Valley Forge National Historical Park and downstream to the Norristown Dam. The organization will provide leadership and encourage unifying efforts from all individuals and organizations that share our purpose, concern and mission.
Numerous civic and social clubs call this stretch of the river home: Upper Merion Boat Club, Norristown Boat Club, Port Indian Ski Club, Stony Creek Anglers, Port Indian Civic & Boating Association, and The Commercial Club all reside here. The Times Herald Newspaper has reported (December 2, 2002) Developer O’Neill Properties have over a billion dollars in proposed developments to the Norristown Riverfront. O’Neill Properties and Buckingham Partners already have an approved project for the 63 acre Betzwood Riverfront site. PECO & the Norfolk Southern Railroad own miles of shoreline. The City of Norristown, Bridgeport, Upper Merion Township, West Norriton Township, Montgomery County Parks & Recreation, and Valley Forge National Historical Park all share stakeholder interests in this stretch of the Schuylkill River. The Pennsylvania American Water Company draws up to 18 million gallons of water per day from the river to serve 81,000 customers. Thousands of people and animals live and play along the Norristown Schuylkill River Basin. In addition to the humans who call this home, let us not forget the wildlife. This area is an ecological habitat for Loons, migrating Swans, Mallards, Canadian Geese, Bald Eagles, King Fishers, Egrets, just to name a few of the many species.
Numerous alliance and partner affiliations such as the Schuylkill River Greenway Association, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Schuylkill River Keeper all represent organizations with similar yet different concerns. We believe a coordinated effort is needed for the Norristown Schuylkill River Basin area of the river.
The Valley Forge Watershed Association is soliciting additional concerned stakeholders to join the Association. The first project the organization will undertake is to focus on controlling the invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil weed problem. During the summer of 2002, the Schuylkill River became weed infested severely limiting the use of the river for recreational purposes.
The first goal will be to identify who owns the eradication or control of the Eurasian Watermilfoil weed (State, Federal or other organizations, or possibly nobody at the current time) and solicit their help in resolving the spread of this destructive, invasive plant. By joining the Association, you can help to protect your interest and use of the river, protect the animals and ecosystem, and preserve our waterways for the enjoyment of our next generation. By uniting we can become a stronger force, coordinate our efforts and leverage the power of the combined organizations.
There is a degree of urgency to our first selected project. Unlike aquatic plant specimens that are needed to promote healthy fish and the water ecosystems, the Eurasian Watermilfoil is an invasive plant and will literally crowd out the more desirable plants. Unchecked, the weeds will continue to spread causing serious consequences. (See attached paper for details).
Please call Curt Huston at 610-539-7219 or email CurtHuston@gamil.com with any questions. The Valley Forge Watershed Association solicits your support of our mission to preserve the beauty, wildlife, natural habitat and ecological balance of the stated area of the Schuylkill River.
Aquatic Plant Specimens
During the summer of 2002, the Schuylkill River became weed infested severely limiting the use of the river for recreational purposes. Three aquatic plant specimens were submitted to Ohio State University’s C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Diagnostic Clinic for identification. The plants were identified as American Elodea (Elodea Canadensis) and Eelgrass or Wild Celery (Vallisneria Americana). These two plants are North American natives and provide valuable food resources for many migrating waterfowl. The third plant is called Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum Spicatum). It is a European invasive plant and literally crowds out more desirable native plants and is not a particularly valuable wildlife resource. This plant adversely impacts aquatic ecosystems by forming dense canopies that often shade out native vegetation. Monospecific stands of Eurasian Watermilfoil provide poor habitat for waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife. Significant rates of plant sloughing and leaf turnover, as well as the decomposition of high biomass at the end of the growing season, increase the internal loading of phosphorous and nitrogen to the water column. Dense Eurasian Watermilfoil mats alter water quality by raising pH, decreasing oxygen under the mats and increasing water temperature providing poor habitat for waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife, in addition to interfering with recreational activities such as swimming, boating, fishing and water sports. Stagnant water created by Eurasian Watermilfoil mats provides good breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
This invasive weed has adversely affected the Schuylkill River by:
Choking out the more desirable and necessary aquatic plants that provide a food source and nesting grounds for fish, Canadian Geese, Mallards and Ducks, Great Blue Heron, Loons and Swans just to name a few.
Slowing the river flow causes silt to drop from suspension in the water and deposit on the river bottom. The last river dredging was completed in July, 1951. Soundings taken by the Bureau of Abandoned Mines Reclamation show the basin capacity of 1951 has been reduced by the following percentages: 1979-30.5%, 1983-33.7%, 1994-41.6%. Since 1994 we have breaching of several dams (Reading and Pottstown) and the Floyd flood, depositing additional silt and further reducing the basin capacity. The reduction of basin capacity leads to increased risk of property damage by flooding.
The weeds negative impact on recreational use includes: the weeds entangle sculler, kayak, canoe oars, fishing lines and lures, boat propellers. The weeds can also clog the water intake of boat engines.
Eurasian Watermilfoil is extremely adaptable, can tolerate and thrive in a variety of environmental conditions and survives under ice. Unchecked, rapid reproduction occurs. Response to herbicides treatment has shown limited success in lakes and ponds but no documented success for flowing rivers and streams. Harvesting methods (rotation, harvesting, cutting) tend to enhance its rate of spread and must be carefully managed. Biocontrol potential (insects, grasscarp) offer potential and are currently understudy. For more information about aquatic plant and aquatic plant management go to http://www.wapms.org/links.htlm