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.