Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

Pennsylvania's Selinsgrove Center Mitigation Site: Larger than Life

PennDOT created 38 of the 83 acres of new forest on the mitigation site. Photo by PennDOT.
PennDOT created 38 of the 83 acres of new forest on the mitigation site. Photo by PennDOT.

PennDOT restored nearly 10,000 linear feet of streams and stream banks on the mitigation site. Photo by PennDOT.
PennDOT restored nearly 10,000 linear feet of streams and stream banks on the mitigation site. Photo by PennDOT.
The 300-acre mitigation site has restored an entire bottomland ecosystem. Photo by PennDOT.
The 300-acre mitigation site has restored an entire bottomland ecosystem. Photo by PennDOT.

The nearly 300-acre Selinsgrove Center Mitigation Site in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, is an extraordinary accomplishment. Although it was initially developed to offset impacts associated with the future Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway, it succeeded in restoring an entire bottomland ecosystem.

The Selinsgrove Center Mitigation Site is a picturesque rural landscape of hilly slopes and floodplain bordered by two mountain ridges. It is made up of 8 acres of new wetlands, 2.5 acres of enhanced wetlands, nearly 10,000 linear feet of restored and enhanced streams and stream banks, 70 acres of grasslands, and 100 acres of forest.

This site was once abandoned farmland but is now an enduring ecosystem. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) purchased the site from the state's Department of Agriculture, which then used proceeds of the sale for additional farmland preservation. To design and develop the Selinsgrove site, PennDOT worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Snyder County, Penn Township, and a Harrisburg-based environmental consulting firm. To make sure the site would be properly preserved, PennDOT and the Snyder County Conservation District signed an agreement authorizing the Conservation District to own and maintain the land in perpetuity.

Diversity characterizes the created forests on the Selinsgrove Center site. Contractors planted oaks, maple, ash, and more than 10 other species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Each tree was treated with a chemical compound that dissolved in the soil at the tree's roots and spread into the tree's vascular system, giving the leaves a bitter taste and protecting the young tree from deer browsing. The "deer repellent" also acted as a fertilizer.

The project also restored the stream running through the former farm site, using a natural channel design that redirected stream flow through the site's grasslands and wetlands. Native grassland habitats were revegetated by planting both cool- and warm-season grasses; the project also eradicated non-native invasive plants such as Multi-flora rose and Japanese honeysuckle in the forested areas. As the ecosystems on the Selinsgrove Center Mitigation site mature, a post-construction monitoring plan will offer opportunities for any needed adaptive management.

Construction work on the Selinsgrove Center Mitigation site is now complete, and the site is on its way to becoming a conservation model for local tourists and school groups. Visitors to the site will have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of songbirds, wild turkeys, grouse, rabbits, wood ducks, mallards, Canada geese, deer, and other wildlife.

For more information contact: Ray C. Kennedy, rakennedy@state.pa.us

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