• Stakeholders participating in the Freshwater Research Initiative project include, from left, Shanon Burkland Stamm, Union County Conservation District; Renee Carey, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy; Eric Beaver, PPL Senior Environmental Professional; Bailey Coder, junior at Susquehanna University; John Miller, sophomore at Susquehanna University; and Jonathan Niles, director of the Freshwater Research Initiative at Susquehanna University.

October 22, 2018

A Susquehanna student uses an electrofishing backpack to collect fish in a local stream. A Susquehanna student uses an electrofishing backpack to collect fish in a local stream.A $10,000 grant from PPL Foundation is helping scientists and students from Susquehanna University’s Freshwater Research Initiative with a stream restoration project throughout Montour, Northumberland and Union counties.

Ecology students are collecting fish and water insect data at six sites to show how efforts such as tree planting along stream banks and construction of animal crossings have stabilized area streams.

The grant-funded team of scientists and students gathered a sampling of fish using Susquehanna’s electrofishing backpacks, which emit a small electrical charge into the water that stuns the fish, allowing them to be collected by net.

Investigators identify, measure and weigh each fish, identify the type of insects found and the amount of sediment in the water.

The goal is to decrease the amount of sediment in the water, allowing more oxygen into the water and increased water life, said Jonathan Niles, director of the Freshwater Research Initiative at Susquehanna.

A focus area of the PPL Foundation is to enhance environmental initiatives as part of its goal to create sustainable communities.

“This project, coordinated by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy along with students from Susquehanna University, aligns well with the mission of the PPL Foundation. We believe in providing opportunities for education, and coupling this with an environmental initiative is an ideal fit,” says Tracie Witter, PPL regional affairs director.