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Old Crow Wetlands Debate

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or the DEP, held a public hearing in Smithfield Township on Wednesday evening. All of this because of proposed construction by the convenience store chain Rutters taking place next to the Old Crow Wetland.

According to the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency, many species of birds and mammals rely on wetlands for food, water and shelter.

Scientists are also beginning to realize that atmospheric maintenance may be an additional wetlands function. Wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus, moderating global climate conditions.

The DEP is currently deciding on a NPDS Construction Stormwater Permit Application for Rutters, which wants to build a seven-acre truck stop adjacent to the Old Crow Wetland. Over 30 people spoke in opposition of the permit as well as the construction citing many environmental concerns. A group of students from Juniata college even conducted a study to show what they say are harmful effects on the wetland.

“Having a Rutters just feet away from this is going to increase light pollution and particulate pollution, The run-off is going to affect the wetland which is already on the cusp of having issues because of all the other businesses. I’m hoping the DEP listens to the public outcry because clearly nobody wants this to go in.”

Elizabeth Baily and Sarah Poklembo are two seniors from Juniata College who conducted a study to demonstrate the water quality in Old Crow Wetland pre and post development.

“There is a limit, a federal limit on the amount of total dissolved solids in an ecosystem before that ecosystem begins to experience die offs of plants and animals, Old Crow is currently at that limit. We were able to predict that were there to be more construction directly uphill of Old Crow, it would be shot right over the limit. If there were any construction, even if the construction were environmentally mitigated or even if they were to go through proper procedures, Old Crow simply cannot take it.”

“Old Crow Wetland is a gem unlike any other in the area that we are in, No other wetland within our local community is this well established and this well traversed by flora, by fauna, and by people observing those things.”

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection told us that they would take each and every comment into consideration.

“We will go back, Take a look what the people had questions about or concerns about and see how that play into that draft permit and then see if any decisions will be imminent as far as confirming or denying or if any changes will have to be made.”

The permit decision could take months to establish.

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