Amos Herr Gets a Facelift

Mar 27, 2024 | Blog

On an unseasonably warm day in March, the walking path around the newly expanded wetlands at Amos Herr Park in East Hempfield Township affords a beautiful view of the nearby houses reflected on the water. Early-season robins perch in a nearby leafless tree, singing sweetly. Although the grass rising around the edge of the water is still brown because of the season, it is easy to see how this area will make a beautiful and peaceful walk in the warmer months. If I didn’t know better, I would think this little haven had been untouched for generations, but just a few short years ago, this was a problem area to maintain and would occasionally cause flooding issues.

 The entire project has an extensive history, which began around 2011 as a follow-up to the EPA audit of East Hempfield’s MS4 permit and Stormwater Management Program (SWMP).  The Township identified the project area within the park as being a challenge to maintain as it was always wet.  Both David Miller/Associates (DM/A) and LandStudies, Inc. worked on solving the problem both in the park and in the surrounding land and waterways. 

“Around 2012/2013 or so, more of a planning focus was conducted on what or what not could happen from a wetlands pockets, stream restoration, etc. viewpoint (along with cost-benefit analyses); while simultaneously MCM 6-related practices were noted, improved upon, revised, etc. for operations at the public works facility (and the park) for several years into 2015 or so,” said Mike LaSala of Landstudies, Inc.

The ball really got rolling on the most recent project in 2022 as multiple funding sources became available.  Engineers got to work, drawing up plans with the goals of expanding the existing wetlands, re-grading portions of the area to create a space for increased wetland establishment, installing a system of interconnected trail pathways around the edges of the created wetland area, and naturalizing the remaining land. 

The plan also included a cost estimate and suggested multiple funding options to the Township, who felt the Countywide Action Plan (CAP) grant best suited their timeline. So, in early April 2022, Charity Hain, the MS4 Program Manager and Landscape Architect for DM/A,  submitted the initial application to enhance a segment of the Amos Herr Park property.  The project was awarded the full request in late April and broke ground in the spring of 2023.

“The catchment is so large that nothing would solve the issue of how much water flows through here, but the wetland expansion alleviated the flooding issue for the Township in that they are not specifically trying to mow and maintain a wet grass area anymore,” Hain said of the project. “The grading development allows for a lot more storage of water than was previously available.”

Over the next several months, the wetlands were widened to create more capacity for stormwater, streambanks were reinforced to prevent erosion and pedestrian pathways were installed so the public could enjoy the new space.   Those robins seemed to be enjoying it too.