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Supervisors taking right steps for Kish Creek health

To the editor:

I applaud Derry Township’s supervisors for their proactive approach to rehabilitating Kish Creek at the Kish Park location.

The health of Pennsylvania’s waterways is crucial to our community’s wellbeing. Preserving the health of our creeks, streams and rivers starts on land. This is where soil erosion, agricultural runoff and lack of habitat can lead to property loss, pollution and declining native populations of both terrestrial and aquatic species.

There is a solution.

According to an online article published March 30, 2017, by Penn State Extension, riparian buffers are one of the best ways to protect and improve streams. These buffers sound “sciency,” but are really a simple concept — they are forest or meadow areas consisting of trees, shrubs and plants, located along the banks to protect the water.

These plants grow deep roots, helping to hold the creek banks together and filter runoff water before it enters the creek. Tree roots give even greater bank protection, and tree canopy provides shade and leaf litter.

Most importantly — for those who are concerned about “where the ducks will go” — the article by Penn State says riparian buffers are essential to feed, shelter and provide travel paths to more than 95 percent of all terrestrial wildlife species in North America.

Rehabilitating the banks of Kish Creek may require that domestic birds be relocated, as explained in Monday’s Sentinel report, “Agreement with USDA approved: Waterfowl management agreement will deal with Kish Park geese, ducks.” However, ducks will not disappear from the park altogether. In fact, the wild, migrating population will be stronger for it.

Nevertheless, the area has seen significant online backlash to Derry Township’s agreement with the USDA from residents who are angry about the pending removal of the park ducks. Many say they look forward to feeding the ducks when warm weather comes and have criticized township supervisors for “taking away another good thing.”

This reaction is short-sighted and misses the point.

A little education goes a long way. I encourage Sentinel readers to do a quick Google search about bank stabilization and riparian buffers. Information specific to Pennsylvania waterways is available online from Penn State Extension, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Fish and Boat Commission.

Saving the ducks means more than throwing bread and seed down the banks at Kish Park. In fact, that’s not helpful at all. It would benefit us, as a community, to take a step back and recognize the damage that persists and worsens when the ability to feed ducks is our primary campaign.

If we care about our wildlife and natural resources …

If we want these resources to support our community for generations to come …

It we want to preserve the outdoors for our children to enjoy …

It’s time to look at the bigger picture and stand behind local officials who are taking necessary steps toward land and water preservation.

Julianne Kilmer

Reedsville

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