Why We Need Riparian Zones...
    Digital Photo ©2001 T McCormick

 
No, this ain't pretty, but it does point out something about our rural environment. Nearly every hollow in McKean County has a stream running through it. In the Port Allegany area, most of them drain eventually into the Allegheny River (Yes, "Allegany" is spelled differently for the town). When the normally-occurring brush, willows, and other plants are removed from the banks of these streams, the result is erosion. Topsoil is lost, and sedimentation clouds the streams. The sediment settles to the bottom choking out some life, breaking the food chain. The denuded banks provide no shelter for marine life and are easily swept away by high water. On this farm, cattle have been allowed to encroach on the stream with predictable results. What is needed is a Riparian Zone, an area of protective vegetation reaching back from both sides of the stream. The cattle should be fenced away from the stream and provided only narrow access for crossing or drinking. Doing so, would ensure clean water downstream, increase sport fishing opportunities, decrease the loss of valuable topsoil, and help prevent the premature filling in of lakes like that created by the nearby Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River.