This half-mile trail will guide you along a meandering stream that was restored to its historic location in 2001. Along the way, interpretive signs will teach you about the project, its purpose, and the wildlife around you. Nature lovers will enjoy this part of Shippensburg Township Park for its peaceful seclusion, wildlife habitat, and the reward of an observation deck in its wetland area. The trail is accessible from the stream-side end of the Multi-Purpose Field parking lot, across Burd Run from the SU Campus Farm off Britton Road.
From Cumberland County Conservation District‘s project plan.
The nature trail highlights a project to restore the stream channel, riparian corridor, and floodplain wetlands on a 21-acre property along Burd Run in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Until the restoration project began, the property, part of Shippensburg Township Park, had been severely degraded by nonpoint sources of excessive sediments and nutrients. Artificial channel straightening and removal of riparian trees and shrubs had destabilized the stream, resulting in approximately 1200 linear feet of accelerated bank failure. In addition, elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus were present in the stream as a result of upstream agriculture taking place on shallow soils overlying steeply dipping and cavernous limestones. Floodplain wetlands located on the site had been ditched and drained, greatly reducing their ability to mitigate nutrient loads. The restoration project would reverse these actions through the application of best management practices (BMPs) toward the following integrated objectives:
1. Restoring the Burd Run Stream Channel
Natural stream design concepts and erosion control BMPs will be used to reestablish a stable, meandering stream channel. This will result in the following benefits to the stream system:
- The longer, meandering channel will have a flatter slope and less erosive energy, reducing the significant non-point source of sediments presently generated by accelerated channel erosion.
- The diversity of habitats supporting aquatic and riparian plants, invertebrates, fish, birds, mammals, and other animals will be enhanced by recreating riffles, glides, and pools flowing around point bars and cutbanks.
2. Enhancing Riparian Vegetation
An 80 foot riparian buffer corridor–now virtually non-existent–will be restored by planting native tree and shrub species. This will result in the following benefits to the stream system and property:
- The roots of riparian plants will provide additional structural stability to the streambanks, further reducing bank erosion and associated nonpoint sources of sediments.
- The selected plants will provide a canopy over the stream, shading water and reducing stream temperatures. This will facilitate greater dissolved oxygen and healthier aquatic life.
- The selected species for the riparian corridor will enhance wildlife habitat and site aesthetics.
3. Restoring Floodplain Wetland Vitality and Function
Limestone springs exist in several locations at the site and feed wetlands both north and south of the stream. Spring water represents a significant nonpoint source of pollutants, consistently carrying high nutrient loads and contributing up to 20% of stream base flow. This project will eliminate artificial wetland drainage and restore natural wetland hydrology, providing the following benefits:
- Greater retention time of water in the wetlands will facilitate nutrient reduction through vegetative uptake and denitrification.
- Restored hydrology will allow deeper water to pool within the wetlands, increasing the diversity of wetland habitats for both plants and animals while also improving site aesthetics.
- The restored wetlands and riparian buffer will complement each other in reducing nonpoint sources of nutrients.
4. Enhancing Education and Community Outreach
Educational programs will be developed for the general public, school groups, and university students. Hundreds of park users will learn from a network of interpretive nature trails that will guide visitors to experience each of the riparian environments and emphasize the importance of watershed protection. Public education will also target people not already involved in community environmental issues through press releases, lectures, a project web site, and two educational videos. Shippensburg University, the Rowland School, and Shippensburg public schools, all located less than five miles from the project site, will develop regular educational field trips.
“Trail markers reveal how Burd Run was restored,” by Dale Heberlig, The Sentinel, November 29, 2003