Ed Schroth is on a mission to have the Little Sewickley Creek designated as an exceptional stream.
Schroth, a biology professor at Duquesne University, recently told Leetsdale Council that he is in the process of petitioning to have the Little Sewickley Creek reclassified as an exceptionally-valued watershed, the highest designation available in Pennsylvania.
“Because that’s exactly what it is,” Schroth said.
Schroth said the pristine creek is now classified as high-quality trout stocking, which makes it the only such stream in Allegheny County.
With the help of a graduate student, Schroth has collected numerous decades of data to support the bump up in status. Schroth said only 4.8 percent of Pennsylvania’s streams are classified as “exceptional,” with the closest being Green Lick in Fayette County and Hell Run in Lawrence County. Schroth said graduate student Nate Brinehart has reviewed both of those streams.
“They are nothing compared to Little Sewickley Creek,” he said.
In July, Schroth met with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg and is now in the process of preparing a more than 150-page document, which they’ll bind and submit on Sept. 25. Included in the application is data from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Boat Commission, Nature Conservancy and other research.
The biology professor has also been visiting local municipalities asking for their support on the application through letters of endorsement.
“You may just own just a small section of the watershed," Schroth said, referring to the portion that runs behind Subway in the shopping center, "but too often this stream has been written off as, 'well, it just runs in the river.' A lot of communities would love to have a stream with 17 species in it.”
Schroth said property rights are not going to be violated, but a better designation will mean increased protection of the resources and increased opportinities for grants.
Residents in and outside the Sewickley Valley currently use the Little Sewickley Creek for recreation. The stream also has long served as an outdoor classroom for local schools and student environmental groups such the QV Creekers. As a former biology teacher at Quaker Valley for 36 years, Schroth said the stream was beneficial for his classes.
“I was very fortunate teaching at the high school. I could walk my students down to a high quality stream. How many biology teachers in the country are able to do that?”