When the Shoup’s Run Watershed Association was founded in 1998, Shoup’s Run and its major tributary, Miller Run, were on the list of Pennsylvania’s impaired waters. They had problems with flooding and erosion, were polluted from acid mine drainage, and contained very little aquatic life.
But hidden in this impacted watershed was an ecological gem. The headwaters of Miller Run contained a surviving population of native brook trout.
The Shoup’s Run Watershed Association used a Growing Greener grant to install multiple treatment systems for the acid mine drainage, including two limestone passive treatment beds, in-stream limestone sand dosing, and an experimental passive treatment system known as Minersville (in homage to the small coal-mining town that once resided there). The Minersville project included removal of an old highwall, disposal of discarded appliances and junk cars, and the construction of the treatment system and a settling pond to prevent metals from entering the stream.
To further improve water quality, the Association used another grant from Growing Greener to repair the road alongside Miller Run. This access road for State Game Land 67 was previously constructed with mine spoil, contributing to the acidic conditions of the stream. Growing Greener funded an experimental project to reconstruct the road with high-calcium-carbonate limestone, which passively boosts the stream’s alkalinity. Now, after rain events, the roadside ditches are no longer stained with iron.
Together, these projects have transformed Miller Run from an acidic stream to one with near-neutral conditions. The improvements have allowed the brook trout, once isolated in the headwaters of the stream, to inhabit the entire 4.5 miles of stretch of water. Biologists from the Fish and Boat Commission have begun the process of upgrading the status of the stream, potentially to a Class B Wild Trout Stream. These brook trout are believed to be some of the last populations remaining in the entire Broad Top area.
With continued improvements to the main branch of Shoup’s Run, it is possible that one day these brook trout will spread throughout the area.