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Wissahickon

During the 1800s builders were drawn to the Wissahickon Creek Valley by its multi-toned, glitter-flecked schist, a popular building material. More than a century later, our community still turns to the creek for ecological, recreational and natural resources as colorful and attractive as that Wissahickon schist.

The Wissahickon Creek flows 22 miles from the Borough of Lansdale through ten other Montgomery County municipalities into Philadelphia where it empties into the Schuylkill River. The 64-square mile watershed provides vital water to thousands of people through a drinking water intake downstream from the  confluence of the creek and the river.

As part of Fairmount Park, the Wissahickon provides a natural refuge for residents seeking to exchange Philadelphia’s busy streets for the creek’s striking forested gorges. Hikers, bikers, joggers, fishers and horseback riders enjoy this unique forest environment nestled in one of the country’s largest cities. As people explore the creek trails, animals skitter, swim and fly throughout the Wissahickon Valley Park and Andorra Natural Area.  The natural area along the Wissahickon provides a vital source of clean water and refuge for birds as they migrate in the spring and fall. Water birds, in particular, are dependent on the creek and reservoirs near it, while dozens of species of warblers fill the woods with color and song every spring as they stop over during their migration.

WE NEED TO ACT

While public, private and non-profit partners like the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association are working together to protect open space along the creek, preservation and pollution reduction remain important priorities. Open space plays a critical role in countering the polluting effect of 90 permitted discharges (point source pollution) and innumerable contaminants washed into the creek from surrounding land (nonpoint source pollution). Along with open space preservation, land use practices are an important, but potentially overlooked, aspect of protecting the Wissahickon’s water quality.

FACTS & FIGURES

Total Acres: 11,000
High Value Acres 10,000
Developed Acres: 5,000
Protected Acres: 3,000
Additional Protected Acres Goal: 2,000
Data current as of July 2006

RESOURCE FEATURES

  • Woodlands include American White Elm, Black Walnut, Lofty Hemlocks, Native Beech and Soft Maple trees
  • Watershed provides drinking water to thousands of residents
  • Home to red fox, white tail deer and woodpecker species
  • Exceptional and high value streams

SPECIAL DESIGNATIONS

  • National Natural Landmark, Department of Interior
  • Trout Stocked Fishery, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

TREASURES

MUNICIPALITIES (all or part)

Ambler, North Wales, Lansdale, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, Springfield, Upper Dublin, Whitemarsh, Whitpain, Abington, Philadelphia

WATERSHEDS/SUB-AREAS

Sandy Run, Wissahickon Creek

GROWING LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVE IN THE AREA

Friends of the Wissahickon, Morris Arboretum, Wissahickon Creek Watershed Partnership, Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers, Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association
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GreenSpace Alliance · 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 532 · Philadelphia, PA 19107 · p: 215.545.4570 x111 · f: 215.592.7026