Bensalem Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization ... greenway trail alignment through Bucks

  • View
    1

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Text of Bensalem Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization ... greenway trail alignment through...

  • Bensalem Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report 1

    Report for PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Project # BRC-TAG-19-141

    Completed by Pennsylvania Environmental Council with Support from Bensalem Greenway Ecological Restoration Advisory Committee

    Bensalem Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report December 2017

  • 2 Pennsylvania Environmental Council

    Table of Contents

    Executive Summary

    Introduction

    Grant Tasks

    Task 1. Ecological Restoration Assessment and Prioritization

    Task 1.1 Stakeholder Outreach

    Task 1.2 Data Collection and Site Visits

    Task 1.3 Confirmation of Prioritization Factors and Site Ranking

    Task 1.4 Wetland Delineation and Ecological Analysis

    Task 1.5 Identification of Ecological Restoration Priorities

    Task 2. Landowner Outreach and Engagement

    Steps to Finalize Preliminary Draft Report

    List of Tables, Appendices & Figures

    References

    Appendices

    Appendix A. Bensalem Greenway Ecological Restoration Advisory Committee

    Appendix B. Neshaminy State Park Ecological Enhancement Design Concepts

    Appendix C. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PINDI) Receipts & Agency Review Letters

    Appendix D. Philadelphia Water Assessment of Shoreline Ecological Restoration

    Appendix E. Wetland Delineation Maps

    Appendix F. Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Jurisdictional Determination

    Appendix G. AD Marble Bog Turtle Report

    Appendix H. Detailed Score Sheet

    Appendix I. Stakeholder and Public Meeting Notes 83

    3

    4

    6 7

    7

    7

    19 24 26

    35

    36

    37

    38

    39 39

    40

    51

    65 67

    70 74 80

    This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.

  • Bensalem Greenway Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report 3

    Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC)

    prepared this draft Bensalem Greenway

    Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report

    under Pennsylvania Department of Conservation

    and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant # BRC-

    TAG-19-141. Ecological restoration opportunities

    along the Bensalem Greenway were assessed

    and prioritized including areas along and nearby

    the Delaware River. The goal of this assessment

    is to identify and promote ecological restoration

    opportunities as the greenway trail is planned and

    developed. The conservation and restoration of

    Delaware Riverfront and nearby upland habitats

    will enable trail users to see and experience

    aquatic and terrestrial natural resources as they

    bike, walk, and/or otherwise enjoy the greenway.

    The greenway study area consists of Bensalem

    Township between Neshaminy and Poquessing

    Creeks, from the Delaware River back to the

    Amtrak rail corridor. Unique habitats in the study

    area include Atlantic Coastal Plain forests and

    wetlands. This includes pockets of imperiled

    sweet gum-oak forests and rare freshwater tidal

    wetlands.

    To complete this work, PEC assessed ecological

    resources and related site conditions in the

    study area using existing studies and collecting

    additional information through site visits, a river’s

    edge paddle survey, and Google Earth reviews.

    PEC correlated this resource inventory with

    parcel ownership to identify ecological restoration

    and enhancement opportunities. To do this PEC

    applied habitat, site-wide, and recreational scoring

    criteria to assess current conditions and estimate

    the potential “ecological uplift” that could follow

    restoration activities.

    PEC calculated current condition and potential

    ecological uplift scores for 37 riverfront parcels

    Executive Summary

    and 57 upland parcels. PEC reviewed these

    scores to identify higher priority ecological

    restoration opportunities. The higher priority

    restoration opportunities include:

    • Sites along the banks of the Delaware River

    and Neshaminy Creek with forested and

    wetland habitats that are currently state

    and county parklands, as well as larger

    private land holdings such as the Waterside

    Development that have riverfront intertidal

    wetlands. Examples of ecological restoration

    opportunities include enhancement and

    expansion of intertidal wetlands, and

    enhancement of forest understory;

    • Upland areas including public and private

    lands with coastal plain forests and wetlands

    could receive similar restoration treatments.

    Sections of small tributary streams within these

    reaches that currently flow through concrete channels could also be graded and planted to

    restore more natural pools and riffles; • Wetland areas interspersed within commercial

    areas could also be enhanced and restored;

    • Connections within and between waterfront

    and forested habitat corridors could also be

    better connected to improve habitat corridors.

    PEC conducted a more focused evaluation of the

    greenway trail alignment through Bucks County

    Park and Andalusia Foundation lands in the

    center of the greenway. These parcels are mostly

    undeveloped and contain wetlands and coastal

    plain forests. PEC contracted with AD Marble to

    complete a wetland delineation, bog turtle habitat

    assessment, and other species of special concern

    review in order to locate an alignment on these

    two properties that avoids and minimizes trail

    construction impacts. Based on the results of these

    assessments a 50 foot wide trail alignment area

    was identified through which a 10 to 12 foot wide

    trail will be located.

    PEC initiated and is continuing to conduct

    landowner outreach and engagement efforts

    to promote restoration projects. PEC issued a

    preliminary draft report for review and comment

    among advisory committee stakeholders,

    landowners in the study area, and other public and

    private stakeholders. PEC notified landowners with higher priority restoration sites about the

    study and inquired about their interest in pursuing

    restoration opportunities. Three public meetings

    were held to present report findings. PEC incorporated comments recieved from Advisory

    Committee members and other stakeholders. This

    draft final report is being submitted to PA DCNR for final review and approval.

  • 4 Pennsylvania Environmental Council

    Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC)

    initiated work on this Bensalem Greenway

    Ecological Assessment and Prioritization Report

    project in May of 2014 under a Pennsylvania

    Department of Conservation and Natural

    Resources (DCNR) grant (Project # BRC-

    TAG-19-141). One goal of the DCNR grant is

    to assess and prioritize ecological restoration

    opportunities along the Bensalem Greenway

    including sites on and adjacent to the Delaware

    River. PEC’s William Penn Foundation Trails and

    Greenway grant also supports this ecological

    restoration work.

    The Bensalem Greenway is a part of the East

    Coast Greenway, an initiative to create a multi-

    use trail system that links cities and towns

    along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to

    Florida. PEC is working with Bensalem Township

    and other partners on East Coast Greenway

    trail development in Pennsylvania between

    Morrisville and Marcus Hook. The Bensalem

    Greenway portion of the trail follows the State

    Road corridor for approximately four miles; this

    corridor is parallel to and a short distance from

    the Delaware River.

    As the greenway trail is planned and developed,

    trail developers are pursuing opportunities to

    link trail users to adjacent and nearby cultural,

    historical, recreational, and natural resource

    points of interest. This report documents

    activities performed by PEC and partners to

    assess natural resource features and identify

    ecological restoration opportunities along

    the Bensalem Greenway alignment, focusing

    on the Delaware River shoreline and nearby

    uplands. PEC considered the study area to be

    Bensalem Township land between Neshaminy

    and Poquessing Creeks, from the Delaware River

    back to the Amtrak rail corridor (Figure 1).

    To complete this work, PEC assessed ecological

    resources and related site conditions along

    the Bensalem Greenway corridor using ex