Leaders from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) met June 4 at Raystown Lake while honoring 40 years since the dam was built in Huntingdon, Pa.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission is an agency that coordinates the water resources efforts of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the federal government. This is important to the health of the Chesapeake Bay as the Susquehanna contributes one-half of the freshwater flow to the Bay.
“Raystown Dam was actually under construction when the SRBC was formed 40 years ago and I’m looking forward to the next 40 years of positive impacts to our waterways,” said Drew Dehoff, executive director.
The operation of Raystown Lake provides flood protection, general recreation, the enhancement of downstream fisheries through maintenance of minimum flows (water quality), wildlife mitigation, and hydropower and the SRBC has similar missions.
The SRBC works also to reduce damages caused by floods; provide for the reasonable and sustained development and use of surface and ground water for municipal, agricultural, recreational, commercial and industrial purposes; protect and restore fisheries, wetlands and aquatic habitat; protect water quality and instream uses; and ensure future availability of flows to the Chesapeake Bay.
“I’ve been participating in the SRBC for more than 10 years now and getting together with other commissioners makes you understand the purpose of this – it helps all of us as individual jurisdictions to deal with different missions including flood protection, implementing water resource plan, and resource management plans,” said Ken Lynch, New York State Welfare Commission.
Congressman Glenn Thompson spoke to the commission about the 82,000 miles of waterways in Pennsylvania that fall under his district.
“We just completed the new Farm Bill back in February that will make some good improvements and consolidation to make sure the money is actually going into these projects. We have over 100 programs dedicated to this,” said Thompson. “These programs are incredibly important. We’ve taken water that’s been impacted and between the active treatment and past treatment processes we’ve done a lot to improve the water quality.”
“I really value the Chesapeake Bay. It’s important to me to spend time on local streams and watersheds that feed into the Bay from Pennsylvania,” said Thompson. “We will continue to manage those investments into the Bay as they’re incredibly valuable.”
Raystown park ranger Jude Harrington also addressed the SRBC members and public with a presentation on the dam and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake manages the environmental stewardship program.
Raystown Lake's diversity of natural resources and those affected by the project's existence are managed through good stewardship and sound land management techniques to maintain and enhance the quality of these existing resources to optimize the natural resource potential. The Natural Resource Management Program is divided into 3 main programs at Raystown including wildlife management, forest and habitat management and fisheries management.
A primary factor enhancing the water quality of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River is its healthy forest ecosystem that filters the water and recharges the drainage basin. The Corps of Engineers understands the importance of its forested lands and uses numerous management techniques to actively manage them. The primary purpose of the timber harvest operations is to create a diverse and healthy canopy and to improve wildlife habitat. Revenue generated from harvest operations is returned to the Raystown Project’s environmental stewardship program as an indirect benefit. Project staff then uses those revenues to leverage opportunities with other land and wildlife management partners.
Raystown Lake continues to successfully manage flood risk in Pennsylvania while also providing environmental benefits and recreational opportunities.