External Affairs Coordinator, Cabot Oil & Gas
[Editor’s Note: The CDL training center at Elk Lake School District has become an environmental training ground for students and the public!]
Last year, Cabot collaborated with Susquehanna County CTC to establish a CDL training center at Elk Lake School District. We knew it would provide incredible opportunities for the region’s workforce, but we never would have guessed that it would lead to wider environmental improvements.
“It started off by wanting to be a good neighbor,” said Elk Lake Superintendent Ken Cuomo. He referenced the concerns about runoff posed by nearby residents as the campus grew toward them. The school district brought in environmental consultant Rebecca Peterson, owner of Folsom Engineering. Her plan intended to tackle erosion issues, stabilize wetlands and provide educational and recreational opportunities.
The marshy area at the south end of the campus is difficult to distinguish from the air or ground. It forms the head waters of a stream that leads to nearby Broadhead Pond and White Creek. In the early days, it was common to divert water as a matter of convenience during construction. However, this was before the immense importance of wetland preservation to our overall ecosystem was fully acknowledged.
“It wasn’t very natural,” Rebecca said of the swampy field at the receiving end of the campus’s stormwater culvert. “We could see where the water wanted to run, and we wanted to restore it to more of a headwater stream.”
Rebecca’s initial study included the addition of the CDL training center and its driving range. In fact, it actually helped direct water toward a treeline leading to woods on the school’s side of the pond. The next phase will be a concerted reconfiguration of the land above the CDL training center to create a series of pools and rippling streams. Planting of native trees and grasses will stabilize the riparian buffer. Lastly, a meandering one-mile paved walking trail will provide Dimock Township residents access to the site.
The estimated cost of the multi-faceted project is about $300,000. So far, $143,500 has been pledged to the township. Most recently, Senator Gene Yaw, Senator Lisa Baker and Representative Tina Pickett helped secure a $95,000 PA DCED Legacy Grant. This grant encouraged matching funds from the PA DCNR, which has designated this portion of Susquehanna County as a high-need area when it comes to public trails.
Everyone involved is excited about Elk Lake students participating in the plantings and installing signage to identify plants. This will help visitors understand the environmental improvements made to protect and preserve the Upper Susquehanna/Tunkhannock Watershed. The opening of the trail is still some years away, but we’ll be among those at the ribbon-cutting ceremony ready to appreciate their efforts.
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