The Doc Fritchey chapter of Trout Unlimited was awarded a $10,000 Healing the Planet Grant sponsored by Giant Corp. (Giant Foods) after a member of the nonprofit filled out an application. Keeping Pennsylvania Beautiful administered the grant.

Read More: Through dedicated action, Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited shows it cares deeply about local water quality

Dr. Kent Crawford, a member of DFTU as well as the Quittapahilla Watershed Association, learned about the grant from Courtney Reimann, who was the executive director of the Lebanon Valley Conservancy at the time.

“It was an online application,” Crawford said. “You had to justify your need for the funds, and you had to justify what you plan to do with those funds. So, in our case, that was easy to do because we had a definite need for a water quality instrument.”

During the application process, DFTU agreed to provide $2,000 in matching funds. The application guidelines preferred a match but did not require one.

Left to right: Gary Zelinske and Michael Schroeder conduct a stream discharge measurement at the Quittapahilla Creek on Aug. 9. (Provided by Rebecca Fronk)

Since receiving the grant money, DFTU placed an order for a YSI multiparameter water quality sonde. The device will be used to monitor temperature, pH, specific conductance, and dissolved oxygen.

“We can use this device for spot checks, or we can deploy the device long term,” Crawford said. “And the long-term application is really important because that means we can put the device in the creek and leave it there. And it records the data for us and stores it in memory. And then, we can come back and retrieve the data from the memory of the device.”

“So, this is really important because we think that dissolved oxygen in the creek may be a limiting factor for trout. … What happens is, in the daytime, if there are algae … or plants in the creek, they produce photosynthesis, which generates oxygen. But at night, there’s no sunshine, and so photosynthesis cannot occur. And then, respiration still goes on, which consumes oxygen. So, there’s a big swing every day in oxygen level in the creek. In the daytime, it goes up. In the nighttime, it goes down.”

Left to right: Michael Schroeder and Bob Connell with a stream discharge measurement in progress at Bachman Run on Aug. 11. (Provided by Rebecca Fronk)

Primarily, DFTU will use the water-monitoring device at the Quittapahilla Creek and the tributaries to the Quittapahilla Creek. The device may also be used at Hammer Creek, which is located in southern Lebanon County and Lancaster County, and other streams in Lebanon and Dauphin counties.

Volunteers who are involved in this water-monitoring effort include Bob Connell, Gary Zelinske, Howard “Willie” Bixler, and Michael Schroeder.

From left to right: Kent Crawford, Gary Zelinske, and Michael Schroeder with a stream discharge measurement in progress at Bachman Run on Aug. 11. (Provided by Rebecca Fronk)

“I would like to encourage people to follow what’s happening with the Quittapahilla Watershed Association and Doc Fritchey Trout Unlimited,” Crawford said. “We work kind of hand-in-hand on the Quittapahilla Creek. And the Quittapahilla is in pretty sad shape. As you know, it runs through the middle of Lebanon. And there, it’s just a concrete ditch.”

“And so, there are methods in progress that we hope can remediate the problem. For example, there’s now an associated fee with runoff. And what happens is, if there’s a parking lot, or a rooftop, or sidewalk, or a driveway, or anything else that doesn’t allow water to sink into the ground, then whoever owns that property is assessed a fee. And some of that fee money can go toward fixing problems at the creek.”

From left to right: Willie Bixler and Kent Crawford check the field notes from a discharge measurement. (Provided by Rebecca Fronk)

In addition to the Healing the Planet Grant, DFTU has received grant money for remediation projects. Crawford named Russell “Russ” Collins, former president of DFTU, as a leader in the effort to obtain these grants.

Read More: Local chapter plants 30+ trees in Snitz Creek conservation effort


Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using the contact form below and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you support local news?
If you believe that Lebanon County needs independent, high-quality journalism, consider joining LebTown as a member. Your support will go directly towards stories like this and you will be helping ensure that our community has a reliable news source for years to come.

Learn more about membership and join now here.