Ditch Run Stream Bank Fencing Initiative

Ditch Run is a small stream located in the southeastern corner of Fulton County.  It flows through Thompson Township and directly into the Potomac River, just downstream from the city of Hancock, Maryland. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has identified Ditch Run as a priority for local restoration and protection efforts.  The landscape surrounding Ditch Run is dominated by agriculture.  There are a half-dozen farms located along the main stem of the stream, and in the majority of these areas, cattle had direct access to the stream, which impacts water quality.

In the spring of 2013, the Fulton County Conservation District (District) applied for and received $19,250 in special project funding to help farmers along Ditch Run install conservation measures to restore and protect the health of the stream.  The District and the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) worked with two landowners in the watershed, who combined, owned a significant amount of land surrounding the main steam of Ditch Run.  These landowners were Gene Mellott and Victor Landers. 

Gene Mellott installed 8,208 linear feet of steam bank fencing to exclude dairy heifers from Ditch Run.  A small tributary to the main stem was also fenced, as well as a pond located on the property.  In addition to stream bank fencing, a 250-foot animal walkway and stream crossing were installed near the barns to stabilize and minimize the erosion caused by animals crossing the stream at the northern end of the property.  A second stream crossing was installed to allow the heifers to cross the stream between paddocks and provide a source of drinking water for the animals.  The project also addressed a problem area where dairy heifers were being fed, which was located in a swale that was collecting and directing polluted stormwater runoff directly into Ditch Run.  An area located outside the swale was fenced off to confine the animals and a watering facility was installed.  Finally, a spring development was constructed to provide a source of water in the pasture during the hot summer months.

Victor Landers installed 4,449 linear feet of stream bank fencing and one stream crossing.  The fencing excluded beef cattle from Ditch Run, as well as a small tributary, a sediment basin, and a pond on the property.  The cattle now have access to water through a stabilized stream crossing. 

Through the installation of these practices on both farms, the cattle no longer have access to sensitive areas, which minimizes erosion and the amount of sediment that gets into Ditch Run.  Both projects combined have excluded nearly 1.5 miles of Ditch Run from direct cattle access.  Other landowners located in the watershed already had fencing installed, which means that now, all animals have been excluded from the main stem of Ditch Run, a significant boost to the overall health of the stream.  The District wishes to thank both landowners for doing their part to improve Ditch Run.