Red Clay Valley Association’s work affects 50,000 residents
By Rick Marts, Staff Writer, The Times
The Red Clay Valley Association (RCVA) named Kennett Golf and Country Club its “Outstanding Conservationist” at the Association’s annual dinner last Wednesday. The award recognized work done by the Kennett Golf and Country Club from November 2011 to May 2012 to restore 2,000 feet of the East Branch of the Red Clay Creek.
The work done on the stream that flows through the middle of golf club’s property was not trivial. Its total cost was over $800,000, three-quarters of it borne by the club and one-quarter by a “Growing Greener” grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and administered by RCVA.
The project involved reshaping the stream-bed into a main channel flanked by a mini-flood plain, strategically placing nearly one hundred 1,000- to 2,000-pound boulders along the stream walls. After reshaping, the stream’s environs were planted with nearly 1000 native and ornamental plants and grasses to create not only beauty but extensive wildlife habitat.
In addition to costly, the project was jurisdictionally complex, with approvals needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chester County, and three townships directly involved in the stream’s winding path to the Delaware Bay.
During this spring and summer, as motorists travel in southern East Marlborough Township near the intersection of East Locust Drive and North Walnut Street, they will be treated to a view of the restored stream — its banks stacked with thousands of iconic “Avondale Blend” boulders — and multicolored foliage from red-twig dogwoods to purple cone flowers.
More impressive than its looks, however, is its new ability to conserve itself and its environment through a scientific and well-thought-out design.
When Joe Viscuso, the Kennett Golf Club’s Board of Governors president, accepted the award, he said, “I have high praise for our club’s grounds superintendent, Paul Stead, for his diligent efforts to work effectively with all governmental and private entities involved in the project.”
In accepting the award with Viscuso, Stead said the work was not entirely for conservation purposes. “Our hole number 13 on the corner of Walnut and East Locust, a par 3 with lots of visibility from the street, was losing its green to the creek. Same thing for the tee-box on the other side of the creek. Something had to be done to stop the erosion at the site and the silt from flowing downstream.”
In addition to coordinating with multiple layers of local and state government, Stead’s stream restoration project needed to be sensitive to wildlife concerns. A rare and very small Pennsylvania bog turtle (Clemmys mulenbergii) was known to spend its winters in the stream’s bed. Because it emerges early in the spring and lays its eggs streamside a month later, environmental authorities required a May 2012 deadline for completing work in the stream. As project manager, complying with this deadline was Stead’s responsibility. In the end, everyone was happy, including the 4-inch turtle.
The RCVA, the second oldest small watershed organization in America, was founded in 1952 by a group of Delaware and Pennsylvania residents for the purpose of protecting and conserving the natural resources in the Red Clay Watershed.
Since then, the Red Clay Valley has been improved by projects such as the Red Clay Creek Cleanup, trout rodeos, spray irrigation systems, a stream corridor and greenway program, the Red Clay Trail, and now reclamation of a major portion of the creek itself. These projects affect 50,000 residents in the townships that border the creek.