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We’re Hiring! A Facilities Manager

Berks Nature is looking to hire a facilities manager. Main duties will be to steward, maintain and manage Berks Nature’s nature center, The Nature Place. The Facilities Manager will inspect and maintain electrical, plumbing, HVAC and some landscaping, will schedule routine maintenance, plan new projects and perform emergency repairs. Must be at least 18 years of age or older. Requirements range from college degree to a minimum level of experience working in facilities management. Ideal candidates include those with a genuine interest in and experience with general contract work, a love of the out-of-doors, and a genuine appreciation in working with diverse audiences. View full job description HERE!

Applications being accepted until September 5, 2022 at 12 noon.
Please send the following documents electronically to kim.murphy@berksnature.org:
• Resume
• Cover letter detailing your experience
• Full contact information for 3 professional references
Salary/wage requirements

Cacoosing Dam Removal Update| July 2022

After over 10 years of advocating, organizing, and collaborating, American Rivers in partnership with Berks Nature, Trout Unlimited, the Berks County Conservation District, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission have removed the Paper Mill Dam (AKA Van Reeds Mill Dam) on the Cacoosing Creek. Physical deconstruction was completed in July and in the next phase of this project, work will focus on reconnecting the Cacoosing Creek with its floodplain in the way of legacy sediment removal, stream bank stabilization, and native tree plantings.

When the dam was originally built, it served an important purpose: powering the Van Reed Paper Mill, which brought jobs and wealth to the community. But over 100 years later, the dam no longer provided this benefit and instead, its presence on the Cacoosing Creek was doing more harm than good. On the other hand, removing the dam benefits both the Cacoosing Creek itself, and the people living in the watershed.

  • Removing the dam restores free-flowing stream conditions, which are necessary for a healthy river and its inhabitants to function. Take trout as an example: for 100 years, this dam has blocked trout from swimming upstream. Even in the days leading up to the dam’s removal, trout could be seen leaping from the creek up towards the dam in a futile effort to overcome this industrial hurdle. Removing barriers like these help trout complete their life cycle and sustain larger, healthier populations of these fish
  • Removing the dam will increase the resiliency of the floodplain against major storms and floods. In a healthy stream, the floodplain provides a space for excess water to go during major rain events, where it can gradually infiltrate down through the soil and replenish the groundwater below. But on the Cacoosing Creek, water trapped behind the dam flowed over the creek’s banks, filling its floodplain indefinitely – that’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is one of the reasons the Cacoosing Creek was so prone to flooding: during heavy storms, the floodplain was already occupied by water and therefore, the excess rainwater had nowhere to go but out and beyond the floodplain itself: over our roads and into our yards. By removing the dam and restoring the floodplain with native trees and shrubs, we can repair the connection between creek and floodplain and the flood mitigation functionality of this system.

But the act of removing the Paper Mill Dam is not without impact. Behind the Paper Mill Dam, 100 years’ worth of sediment has built up. Removing the dam releases this sediment, which can harm downstream communities if not handled carefully. The same can be said of the heated water trapped behind the dam: releasing this water too quickly could shock cold-water communities downstream and hurt aquatic stream life. This is why the Paper Mill Dam was removed in phases: in order to mitigate this damage and control the release of these potential pollutants, giving the creek periods of rest to recover before each disturbance. While there is a short-term impact to the dam removal, the long-term benefits far outweigh this initial cost.

Berks Nature, American Rivers, and the volunteers at the Tulpehocken Creek Watershed Association are continuing to monitor this project, evaluating site conditions and adaptively managing the site to better address any concerns that may arise and restoration of the creek and floodplain progresses. Healing is a process that requires patience, but our waterways are resilient if we give them the space and assistance they need to recover.

Cacoosing Creek Dam Removal Project

The Cacoosing Creek dam is located at the corner of the Tulpehocken Road and Paper Mill Road in Spring and Lower Heidelberg Townships, Berks County, PA. The Paper Mill Dam (Cacoosing Creek Dam) lies approximately 525 feet upstream of the confluence with the Tulpehocken Creek. The Paper Mill Dam removal project is cited as a priority project in the Berks County Conservation District’s Coldwater Conservation Plan for the Cacoosing Creek Watershed.

Berks Nature is a partner with American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the Berks County Conservation District on this project to remove the Papermill/Cacoosing Creek dam. The goal of this project is to restore the ecological integrity of this creek corridor which includes restoring aquatic connectivity for fish and other aquatic life in the stream and reestablishing a cohesive riparian forest habitat.

Dams are regulated by DEP (PA Department of Environmental Protection). The Division of Dam Safety provides for the regulation and safety of dams and reservoirs throughout the Commonwealth in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and their property. This project has already received all permits and approvals from the DEP and other governing agencies. American Rivers is responsible for the work and permitting related to the dam removal. Please contact American Rivers with concerns related to the dam deconstruction and removal.

Berks Nature is responsible for riparian habitat restoration following dam removal. This restoration involves planting and maintaining native trees and shrubs along the Cacoosing Creek to increase canopy cover and shade thus reducing instream temperatures and restoring other natural processes exhibited by healthy streams protected by forested riparian buffer forests. Please contact us with any concerns regarding these issues.

The PA Fish and Boat Commission is also involved with the project and is in charge of all fish, reptile, and amphibian concerns. Please contact them with any concerns involving this. And the PA Game Commission is in charge of all mammal and bird including waterfowl concerns. Please contact PA Game Commission with any concerns or questions involving mammals and birds.

To learn more about the environmental impacts of dams visit: https://archive.internationalrivers.org/environmental-impacts-of-dams