The Little Conestoga Creek Blue-Green Corridor Project
The Steinman Foundation and Little Conestoga Creek Foundation, working with public and private partners, have launched a project to rejuvenate about 2.5 miles of the impaired Little Conestoga Creek in what will be one of the largest restorative efforts of its kind in Lancaster County. The $18 million project will generate substantial environmental and recreational benefits to the public, including miles of trails that will link hikers and bicyclists to parks, entertainment venues, shopping and essential services in Lancaster city and its immediate suburbs.
The Project at a Glance
The purpose of the Blue/Green Corridor Project is to enhance the Little Conestoga’s capacity; reduce levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, ingredients in commercial fertilizer that starve the water of oxygen and degrade the ecosystems downstream including the Chesapeake Bay; and to increase variety of healthy plant and animal life in the waterway. That’s the “blue” part of the Blue/Green Corridor Project.
The project will also create a 2.7-mile, non-motorized, ADA-accessible, public trail along the Little Conestoga Creek that will connect Marietta Avenue with Noel Dorwart Park, Franklin & Marshall College’s Baker Campus, The Crossings, Long’s Park, Penn Medicine Lancaster General’s Health Campus and Park City Center. That’s the “green” part of the Blue/Green Corridor Project.
As the Steinman family was contemplating the future of Conestoga House, the Marietta Avenue homestead of James Hale Steinman, they also considered the health of the adjacent waterway, the Little Conestoga Creek. The Steinman Foundation, an independent family foundation funded by companies that make up Steinman Communications in Lancaster County, commissioned a study in 2019 to determine the feasibility of enhancing the water quality in the Little Conestoga and reintroducing biodiversity to the area. A project team of foundation staff and consultants, including engineers and landscape architects from Lititz-based ELA Group and LandStudies, completed their work in October 2019. Soon after, the Steinman Foundation created the Little Conestoga Creek Foundation to carry the work of the Blue/Green Corridor Project forward.
What We’re Doing and Why
At the heart of the Blue/Green Corridor Project is the excavation of more than a million pounds of “legacy sediment” from the Little Conestoga, a buildup of eroded soils that have washed onto the natural creek bed over generations and now impair the waterway’s capacity to contain flood waters. Removing that sediment will improve the capacity of the floodplain and potentially reduce the impact of, and mitigate, the damage caused by flooding on the adjoining properties and those downstream.
That legacy sediment also holds nitrogen and phosphorous, which are harmful to the ecosystem downstream to the Conestoga and Susquehanna rivers and Chesapeake Bay. Removing the sediment, and those nutrients, has the potential to help Lancaster County municipalities reduce water pollution as mandated by the federal government. Our consultants have estimated that the project will remove 940 pounds of phosphorous and 4,755 pounds of nitrogen from these 2.5 miles of the Little Conestoga Creek , no longer to be carried downstream.
It is our hope that the Blue/Green Corridor Project will catalyze restoration projects elsewhere within the creek’s watershed.
Where We’re Doing the Project
In its entirety, the Little Conestoga Creek runs 21 miles in length, originating southeast of Manheim, in Penn Township, and flowing south through seven municipalities to its confluence with the Conestoga River abreast of Conestoga Township. Our restoration project focuses on 2.5 miles of the Little Conestoga from Marietta Avenue to Swarr Run, near Park City Center, and includes about 24.5 acres of floodplain and wetland restoration on about 40 properties.
The 2.7 miles of trails, trailheads and educational/interpretive opportunities will connect residents and visitors to surrounding trail networks and open spaces at Franklin & Marshall College and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority/Dorwart Park; employment, shopping, hospitality, and entertainment at Park City Mall and The Crossings; healthcare at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health; and visitation of loved ones at Mennonite Home/Woodcrest Villa.
The four municipalities through which this section of the Little Conestoga flows — East Hempfield, Manheim and Lancaster townships and Lancaster city — have unanimously adopted resolutions and provided financial support to participate in this project.
Questions? Please contact us here.
Sponsors and Financial Contributors to the Little Conestoga Creek Project:
East Hempfield Township
Lancaster County Community Foundation
Lancaster Industrial Development Authority
Penn State Health
COUNTY, STATE & FEDERAL FUNDERS
Lancaster County Commissioners
Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority
Lancaster Clean Water Partners
PA Department of Environmental Protection
PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
PA Department of Community & Economic Development
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation