Musser Gap to Valleylands Meeting April 25

The date for the Musser Gap to Valleylands public meeting has been changed. It will now be held on Thursday, April 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Foxdale Village.

Note from Deb Nardone, Executive Director of ClearWater Conservancy

Please join ClearWater Conservancy and Penn State University for our THIRD community conversation on the Musser Gap to Valleylands (MG2v) project: 

NEW DATE!  When:  Thursday, April 25th from 6 – 8 pm

Where:  Foxdale Village Auditorium, 500 E. Marylyn Ave, State College 

This third session will be the culmination and presentation of the student ideas you’ve help shape this year.  Please join Penn State President Eric Barron to hear more about what’s next and engage with the students to hear more.  Visitors are encouraged to carpool, as parking may be limited.  Light refreshments will be provided.  

You can follow the process and RSVP for the event by following this link to Facebook. If you’re unable to attend, please consider providing your thoughts/feedback on the ideas shared via this online survey.  

Musser Gap to Valleylands Project – Update

The Musser Gap to Valleylands Project (MG2V) is a joint project between Penn State Landscape Architecture students and ClearWater Conservancy: “a one-time, interdisciplinary course centered around developing a plan for the 365 acre, University owned land in Musser Gap and valley lands.”

The project kicked off with a press release announcement on Dec. 11, 2018. The first of three community meetings was held Feb. 7, 2019. The second community meeting was held March 28, 2019, and included presentations of five concept plans by Landscape Architecture students. Images below.

The first five concept plans were developed using community feedback gathered through an online survey (which garnered more than 1,000 responses), along with feedback gathered at the first community meeting, and feedback gathered at a small-group, invitation-only stakeholders meeting held in mid-February.

The students will reportedly use feedback gathered at the second community meeting, and through another online survey, to further refine the concept plans.

LINK TO THE NEW SURVEY

The refined concept plans will then be presented to the public at a third and final community meeting, to be held on April 18 25, 2019, at Foxdale Village (500 E. Marylyn Ave.) from 6 to 8 p.m.

Limited information is available via MG2V Facebook and Instagram accounts. Project coordinators can also be reached by email: mg2vproject@gmail.com

Prior Penn State Press Releases:

Report on April 1 Benner Township Meeting

By Annie Seeley Murrell

Repost from Benner Township Residents Facebook page

The meeting tonight touched on a few concerns about the proposed zoning, mostly regarding the Spring Creek Canyon Overlay.

In the newly proposed draft ordinance, the overlay is completely removed.

Tonight it was mentioned that a portion of it might be put back in, but Zone 2 would likely to be removed, leaving only 1,000 feet from either side of the center of Spring Creek protected.

This is not enough.

The Overlay was developed with a great deal of consideration and local expertise and serves a variety of important purposes, including maintaining the health of Spring Creek so that it remains one of the most popular fishing destinations in the country.

Please urge the supervisors to leave the Spring Creek Canyon Overlay in its original form to ensure the continued protection of one of our region’s most valuable natural resources.

Please notify those who fish and recreate in this area that there is a possibility of the Overlay being altered or removed and this could have a negative impact on the fish and wildlife there.

Share your thoughts at the next Benner Twp. Supervisors meeting and/or submit a letter to the Township to be sure your voice is heard.

Three more key documents

April 15, 2009 Master Plan for Spring Creek Canyon Conservation
October 29, 2009 Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Zoning Map
March 26, 2019 DRAFT Revision to Overlay Zoning, reducing protected land area to 1,000-foot buffers on each side of Spring Creek.

Spring Creek Canyon Overlay Repeal – Update

Next Public Comment Opportunity

Monday, April 1, 2019 at 7 p.m. at Benner Township Supervisors Meeting, 1224 Buffalo Run Road, Bellefonte PA.

Summary of What’s Happening

Excerpted from David Roberts’ reporting

Nittany Valley’s Spring Creek is under threat once again. 

Benner Township Supervisors are rapidly proceeding to remove the existing Benner Township Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Ordinance (Section 250) by rewriting the local zoning regulations.

Most people know that Spring Creek is an aquatic gem within our valley – an Exceptional Class A native trout stream full of fresh water springs and cool, shady basins. 

Spring Creek has been running through our valley for over a million years….yet Spring Creek is surprisingly fragile and could be lost as a world class cold water stream. 

In the past, Spring Creek endured sewage, overdevelopment, pollution, thermal degradation, and several major chemical spills including contamination with kepone – an insecticide similar to DDT. 

However the people of Nittany Valley recognized the importance of our beautiful stream and rallied together to protect and conserve Spring Creek. Many studies were conducted to help in the development of plans using a scientific basis for conservation strategies. 

In 2008, the Spring Creek Canyon Master Plan was developed for Benner Township by a broad group of people, organizations, and stakeholders to determine scientifically how to best protect and conserve Spring Creek Canyon.

The existing zoning ordinance for Benner, adopted in 2010, is actually quite good. (Copy posted below for review/download)

Current provisions of the Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Ordinance ensure: 

  1. Identification of natural features

  2. Phase I Cultural Resource Assessments 

  3. Disturbance analysis
  4. Suitable uses for primary zone 

  5. Stormwater control strategies

  6. Higher design standards for construction – LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), an internationally-recognized green building certification program 

  7. Restoration formulation 

  8. Forestry canopy plan. 


What will the proposed revisions do?

The current proposed amendments being put forward by Benner Township supervisors would eliminate or drastically reduce many protections for the Spring Creek watershed, including: 

  • Remove controls on activities and potential pollution runoff from the University Park Airport;
  • Reduce or remove riparian buffer requirements
  • Remove Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay zones;
  • Remove clear and detailed standards that control the spread of impervious surfaces;
  • Remove requirement for safety barriers around swimming pools for the prevention of child drowning;
  • Remove certain recognized building performance standards;
  • Remove outdoor light pollution standards;
  • Eliminate the entire Environmental Protection section (Article 5)

For more information, see Benner Township Residents Facebook page

Benner Township Residents on Facebook

Collection of documents related to 2018-2019 Benner Township Board of Supervisors’ efforts to repeal Spring Creek Canyon Conservation Overlay Zoning Ordinance (Section 250 of Benner Township Zoning Ordinance)

Existing Ordinance

Draft Revisions

Citizen Journalism

2018 Meeting Minutes, Compiled

Letters to Benner Township Re Proposed Changes

Next Public Meeting re: Musser Gap conservation – March 28, 2019

From Dorothy Blair, NVEC President:

The next meeting on the Penn State/ClearWater Conservancy Musser Gap conservation project will be Thursday, March 28 at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County (780 Waupelani Dr. Ext.)

This is the second in a series of meetings with PSU and ClearWater to zero in on what should happen to the 365 acres of Penn State-owned farm and forest lands off of Whitehall Road, at the southeast border of the parcels Penn State sold to Toll Brothers for student housing development, and near the 100-acre soccer/tournament park site being developed by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority.

The first meeting was held February 7. More than 100 local residents attended, and heard presentations by Penn State President Eric Barron, and by Penn State students who have been studying the land’s geology, history and other significant features. Community members then visited stations set up around the fellowship hall to discuss specific project issues such as agriculture, forestry and recreation.

At the March 28 meeting, Penn State students will give an update on community feedback collected through the Musser2Valley Survey (>1000 responses), and other inputs that are shaping Penn State’s vision for this land. 

Slab Cabin Run flows through this land which mostly sits above the drinking water wellheads for most of our area.

What happens to Musser2Valley will also influence neighboring farmers who are debating conservation easements vs. selling for profit/development. 

Community Meeting re: PSU Musser Gap Land Conservation Postponed to Feb. 7

From ClearWater Conservancy:

Due to extreme cold, the first community forum meeting concerning the Musser Gap property (originally scheduled for Jan. 31) has been postponed to Thursday, February 7 at 6 p.m.

The location will remain the same at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County at 780 Waupelauni Drive in State College.

Centre Region Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Public Meeting Postponed to Feb. 6

From Pam Salokangas (CRPR Director), via Cheryl Stamm (CR-COG Admin):

We received word that the SCASD does plan to close early today and cancel all evening activities due to the forecast and projected frigid temperatures.  Their announcement should be going out soon.

Therefore, to not endanger anyone this evening during the low temperatures, we are enacting our planned snow date for the Centre Region Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Public Meeting that was set for this evening.

This meeting will now be held next Wednesday, February 6 at 7:00 PM at the State College Area High School. 

Please feel free to share this with any of your groups who were planning to attend so that they can plan to attend next Wednesday!

Two upcoming meetings and a public survey

From NVEC Secretary Terry Melton

The attached flyer describes two further upcoming opportunities to protect our open spaces and water.

Centre Region Parklands GET INVOLVED!

On January 30 and 31 there are public meetings to take public input on:

1) the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan for the next 10 years and

2) the Penn State intent to preserve 365 acres of open space adjacent to the Toll Brothers property.

In addition, ClearWater Conservancy is surveying the public regarding the use of the PSU land.

Link for the survey

This survey is open ONLY UNTIL January 17.

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition encourages the public to attend one or both of the public events described in the attached flyer.

If you cannot attend, please forward this information to like-minded friends.

Penn State “investigating” ways to conserve 365 acres PSU-owned land adjacent to Toll Brothers site

Via Penn State News

“Penn State President Eric Barron announced today (Dec. 11) the University is investigating ways to conserve land it owns roughly between Whitehall Road and Rothrock State Forest at Musser Gap, in Ferguson Township just outside of the University Park campus.

“Our vision for this area is to not only help protect the local water supply, plant and animal species, but also make it a place where people can enjoy nature, learn about the environment and be inspired,” Barron said.

The 365-acre property, which is being referred to as the Musser Gap to Valleylands (MG2V) site, includes the Musser Greenway Trail and is bordered by Rothrock State Forest and the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park.

As part of the work, the University is partnering with the ClearWater Conservancy, a non-profit organization that aims to conserve and restore the natural resources in central Pennsylvania, which will work with the community and seek input from local residents…”


For reference, this is most of the acreage that Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition and its precursors (Nittany Valley Water Coalition and a phalanx of loosely organized citizen activists) have been fighting since early 2015 to protect from the domino-effect of intensive land development set off by Penn State’s rezoning and sale of the 46 acres now under development by Toll Brothers for luxury student housing.

The most publicly-visible citizen action was the citizen occupation of the Toll Brothers site, which ran from June 3 through October 8, 2017, in an effort to engage Penn State and Toll Brothers in a land swap and keep the student housing development off the watershed.

Penn State evicted the occupiers on October 8, 2017, claiming that the land would be farmed in winter wheat while negotiations for the land swap proceeded. Then on December 21, 2017, after apparently rebuffing overtures from Toll Brothers executive Charles Elliot to engage in the land swap, Penn State closed the sale.