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Kittanning man reworks Cherry Run to save its banks

| Thursday, July 8, 2010

PLUMCREEK — Evan Goldstrohm is right at home in the middle of a stream — sloshing in the water, crawling on rocks and logs, checking grades and angles of flow and occasionally chucking a rock or two.

"This is my office," said Goldstrohm, 22, of Blanket Hill in Kittanning Township, an Elderton High School graduate and recent Penn State University graduate in wildlife fisheries science and a fisheries biologist by profession.

"You can't beat the outdoors for an office," he said.

For the summer Goldstrohm is working as an Office of Surface Mining (OSM)/VISTA volunteer with the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team (ACCWT) assigned to the Armstrong Conservation District as an intern. The internship will turn into a full-time job for Goldstrohm at the end of the summer.

Goldstrohm was on the job Wednesday as a watershed coordinator for a stream-stabilization project, saving the Cherry Run stream, along Cherry Run Road in Plumcreek, from erosion about a mile downstream from Route 422.

The Crooked Creek Watershed Association helped fund the stream project. A grant was obtained from the Armstrong County commissioners through the county's environmental initiative with the state's Growing Greener II program. The awards are for county communities to do environmental, recreation and conservation projects. Growing Greener II funding is used for waterways, parks, trails, greenways, open spaces and farms.

"The main thing is I'm learning a lot," Goldstrohm said of his volunteering with OSM/VISTA. "I wanted to learn everything and this is the place to do it."

Goldstrohm can be found anytime of the day knee-deep in the water among all the bugs, minnows, turtles, water fowl and rocks.

"Many a day I'm wet and covered in mud," he said.

Goldstrohm has been supervising the placement of rocks and logs in the stream which will keep it from moving and eroding its banks. The process involves putting structures in the stream such as log veins, cross veins, j-hooks, root wads and cribbing which direct the flow of water and keep it from hitting the banks and causing erosion.

"We can make the turns how we want them to," said Goldstrohm. "The bank will regrow naturally."

Goldstrohm also is taking measurements for angles and grades and inspecting the soil in the stream.

"This effort probably will save 40 to 50 tons of soil a year along here," said Dave Beale, Armstrong Conservation District watershed specialist.

When completed, the project will assure a clean, free-moving and stabilized stream.

"Everybody loves this stream," said Goldstrohm. "This project improves everything. It saves the land. The landowners love it. The township loves it — it saves the road, recreationalists love it. It's good for the fish population, the waterfowl, snapping turtles, water snakes, the deer use it as a crossing. Everybody benefits from this."

The number of Americans volunteering in their communities jumped by 1.6 million last year, the largest increase in six years, according to a report released on June 14 by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

That helps OSM/VISTA Team community groups like the Armstrong Conservation District who depend on volunteers to get things done in the area, officials of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team said in a release commending Goldstrohm for his volunteering and time spent doing stream restoration work.

"Volunteers in rural communities like Rural Valley and Kittanning have a tremendous impact throughout the region," said Allan Comp, coordinator for of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team. "Our OSM/VISTAs recruit and train volunteers to plant trees, clean up litter, reach out to the public, secure grants and do countless other things to build the capacity of their organizations."

The Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team exists as a partnership between AmeriCorps VISTA, the Office of Surface Mining and community groups throughout Appalachia. Since founding, OSM/VISTAs based throughout the region have brought in more than 15,570,000 hours of volunteer service.

For more information about volunteering with the Armstrong Conservation District, contact Goldstrohm at 724-545-3658 or email erg5026@gmail.com. The Armstrong Conservation District is in the Armsdale Administration Building along Route 85 in Rayburn. Its mailing address is 124 Armsdale Road, Suite B-2, Kittanning, PA 16201.

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