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Susan Beecher to retire from PCCD; concerns over pipeline impacts discussed

August 21, 2012

Susan Beecher, a well-respected guardian of Pike County’s natural resources will retire from her post as executive director of the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) on December 31, concluding 23 years of service. The news was announced at the monthly meeting of the PCCD Board of Directors on August 20.

In a discussion that was typical of many others in which Beecher has worked to protect the County’s high quality water, forests and land, concerns were expressed about possible impacts to a “premiere Pike County trout stream,” where the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Northeast Upgrade Project (NEUP) would cross Cummins Creek in an area described as a beautiful forested gorge with very steep slopes.

“One of the streams that we’re very very concerned about with the TGP NEUP project is Cummins Creek,” said Beecher, who estimated that the banks at the proposed site are at approximately 80% slopes. “That’s one of the places that they’re proposing additional temporary work space, so the right of way will be even wider,” she noted.

For perspective, Beecher cited an example from TGP’s 300 Line Project. “The tree clearing that took place at the Lackawaxen River was about 300’ at a 45% slope. Imagine slopes twice that steep with the same level of tree removal,” she said.

PCCD staff and volunteers have been actively involved in water quality monitoring initiatives and have added additional sites this year. “Cummins Creek had some of the highest numbers of trout that we found in the county,” she said of the creek which bears a High Quality designation from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. “We’re very concerned about the impact of this pipeline on that and some of the other streams.”

PCCD is also completing its second technical review of the proposed pipeline project. While Beecher noted that staff is still processing the extensive comments, she expressed her disappointment that some of PCCD’s requests about minimizing impacts to the riparian buffers and mitigating some of those impacts by planting trees in the stream corridors did not bring about a greater response.

Pike County Commissioner Richard Caridi noted that in New Jersey, TGP has agreed to do more extensive replanting. “If it’s good enough for New Jersey, why isn’t it good enough for PA?” he asked.