Our Roots in the International Exchange

The Spring Creek Watershed Community grew out of the 1996 International Countryside Stewardship Exchange study of the Spring Creek Watershed. The Exchange is a collaborative project that addresses land conservation, community development and other related issues by pairing experienced professionals from England, Scotland, Wales, the United States, Canada and France, with the leaders of a local community. Using a case-study approach, the Exchange provides a catalyst for individuals, private organizations and public officials to establish or reinforce partnerships and lines of communication necessary to manage change successfully. It raises interest and stimulates discussion about the links between sustainable local economies, community character, the conservation of rural landscapes, and protection of natural resources, and suggests ways to achieve and protect all four.1

International Countryside Stewardship Exchanges are projects of the The Countryside Institute, now called the Glynwood Center. The Glynwood Center helps communities grapple with the tension between economic development and conservation of natural and cultural resources. They provide access to innovative solutions from around the world - and opportunities to strengthen local leadership.2

In 1993, Glynwood Center approached the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Inc., and asked that they assume a regional coordinator role. As regional coordinators, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has overseen eleven Case Studies within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Spring Creek Case Study was part of the 1996 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Exchange that prompted the creation of the Spring Creek Watershed Community. Read about the Case Study at www.glynwood.org.

The Spring Creek Watershed was chosen for the Exchange in April of 1996, based upon an application submitted by The ClearWater Conservancy, a Centre County based land trust and conservation organization. The Centre County Board of Commissioners supported the efforts of ClearWater Conservancy, who also received support from four other organizations interested in the future of the Chesapeake Bay, where the waters from the Spring Creek Watershed ultimately drain (see diagram below from Korostoff, Spring Creek Rivers Conservation Study). Those organizations are The Countryside Institute, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Centre for Rural Pennsylvania, and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program.

The overall goal of the Spring Creek Case Study was to determine how the communities within the Spring Creek Watershed could best manage the impacts of growth and land use on water resources while maintaining and improving the current high quality of the Creek itself. 3

A Local Steering Committee was created to solicit interest and participation in the Exchange. The Steering Committee was comprised of watershed residents, other interested persons, and representatives of governement, business, industry, and agriculture in the 14 Spring Creek Watershed municipalities. 4

Jim McClure, an active member of the watershed, who was a Local Steering Committee member, said of the Exchange: “The first impression, the amount of community involvement in the exchange was extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve every seen anything like it, especially anything like it focused on water. A lot of people talking to a lot of other people about these concerns.” 5

This Steering Committee identified issues and questions for the visiting Exchange Team to address. They also transported the Exchange Team to meetings, social functions and were responsible for publicity and for implementing the Exchange process.

View the Exchange Team itinerary HERE.

On their final evening of the study, the team was guest to a special meeting of all the citizen planning commissions throughout the watershed. Before a packed room full of planners, concerned citizens, and elected officials, the six visitors were asked what they saw as our most important asset here in Central Pennsylvania. Unanimously, the visitors told how they were struck by the natural beauty of our area – the forested ridges, the pastoral farm lands, and the clear, small streams. We have a high quality of life here in our relatively small part of the state. The Team understood what a mixed blessing that can be. They were quick to point out how fragile the balance is between growth and preservation of quality of life.

These individuals drew on their expertise to illuminate some commonsense ideas and strategies, but their recommendations alone cannot solve our problems. They created the spark that illuminates the path we must take together. The challenge that comes out of the exchange is for the citizens of our watershed community to listen to the team’s ideas and to mold them into solutions that we can work on together.

The good news is that we who live in the Spring Creek Watershed community have much longer than a week to learn about the land we live on and the systems that govern its change over time. The process of working to change things for the better is a long and tedious one, but we must keep taking small steps of cooperation.

The Challenge

The story of the watershed is a story of growth, and from the Watershed Exchange came the perception that the community must develop a common vision for the future. Where will growth occur? Who will designate the areas to be protected and the areas to be developed? How will the community ensure that the nature and flavor of the watershed today will continue to exist 25, 50, or 100 years from now? That was the challenge left by the team.

The team is gone now, but the renewed energy, awareness and commitment to the watershed continues. Activities are underway by public and private organizations to support and protect Spring Creek. Modest projects such as the erecting of watershed boundary signs will serve to raise the awareness level of the watershed. The Connections Project provides young people with a chance to become acquainted with the Sprig Creek and learn more about their role in the watershed. Additionally, the Centre County Board of Commissioners established the Spring Creek Watershed Commission that is comprised of representatives from each of the 14 watershed municipalites for the sole purpose of working together on issues concerning the Spring Creek Watershed.

The team’s visit was a success. It joined people together to talk about tough but important tissues of watershed protection, growth and development. The open dialogue that started taking place in preparation for and during the week of the international exchange must continue. We need to collectively define the vision that will shape all of our future decisions. 6

The Spring Creek Watershed Community is a stakeholder project of the ClearWater Conservancy.

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Historical Milestones of the Spring Creek Watershed Community

April 1996: Centre County Commissioners announce that Spring Creek is chosen to host International Countryside Stewardship Exchange
April 1996: Local Steering Committee is formed in preparation of the International Countryside Stewardship Exchange Team visit
April– September 1996: Local Steering Committee finalizes agendas and logistic’s for the Exchange Team’s visit, assemble background information
September 13-19, 1996: Exchange Team Visits the Spring Creek Watershed
October 1996: Center County commissioners create a regional commission to protect the Spring Creek Watershed that is comprised of a representative from each of the 14 Spring Creek Watershed municipalities - The Spring Creek Watershed Commission is born
November 1996: Energized participants of the 1996 International Countryside Stewarship Exchange form the Spring Creek Watershed Community (SCWC) and the Local Steering Committee for the Exchage is renamed: The Coordinating Committee of The Spring Creek Watershed Community
January 1997: First issue of Springs & Sinks Newsletter is distributed and the Watershed boundary signs project begins
September 1997: First Spring Creek Cleanup Day
1997: The Connections Project begins
October 1997: The Water Resources Monitroing Project (WRMP) begins
July 2000: Project Vision 2020: Living with I-99 begins
November 2000: Receive three PA DEP Growing Greener Grants to 1) begin stormwater monitoring and 2) to create the Spring Creek Watershed Community Educational Web site
March 2001: Receive PA DEP Growing Greener Grant to begin groundwater level monitoring
April 2001: Spring Creek Cleanup Day is renamed to Watershed Cleanup Day to include neighboring watersheds
July 2001: Receive notification of two PA DEP Growing Greener Awards for 1) Watershed Outreach and Education and 2) Phase I of the Spring Creek Watershed Plan


1. The Glynwood Center Web site

2. Directly From The 1996 International Countryside Stewardship Exchange in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Report, Sponsored by The Countryside Institute, The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and The Chesapeake Bay Program, page 1

3. Directly From "Steering Committee Dons New Hat," Springs & Sinks, Volume 1, Number 1, January 1997, Page 1

5. Excerpt Directly From Jennifer Watson, Spring Creek Watershed Community An Optimist’s View Voice of Central Pennsylvania Octover 1996

Relevant Links

Spring Creek Watershed Community International Exchange Background Briefing Materials PRE-VISIT packet

Link to recommendations of Exhange


Summary of Exhange Team Recommendations to the SPRING CREEK WATERSHED COMMUNITY, 10/21/96

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Link to sponsoring organizations of the Exchange

The ClearWater Conservancy

The Glynwood Center

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program

Why so much interest from Chesapeake Bay organizations? See Our Watershed for more information.

Newsletter Articles

Glotfelty, Caren. "A Watershed Community Emerges," Springs & Sinks, Volume 1, Number 2, February 1997.

(From "Steering Committee Dons New Hat," Springs & Sinks, Volume 1, Number 1, January 1997

Goltfelty, Caren, “The Roots of the Spring Creek Watershed Community,” Springs & Sinks, Volume 4, Number 6, November 2000.

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Newspaper Articles

Click here for press releases of the event.

Press Releases
Watershed brings in international overseers Jim Mackinnon, CDT 4/3/96

Watershed needs citizen-stewards Caren E. Gotfelty CDT 5/9/96

Watershed connects region’s residents George Hildenbrandt CDT 5/26/96

Group works to improve creek areas Jerilynn Schumacher CDT 5/29/96
Plannign should reign: Watershed Discussion essential to managing the future CDT 6/19/96

Region at a Watershed Moment Rodney Musser CDT 7/18/96

Springing into Action County prepares for visit by international experts to help with Spring Creek Preservation jerilynn Schumacher CDT 7/25/96

Study will help chart the course Herb Thompson 7/24/96

Experts trade exchange tips jerilynn Schumacher CDT 7/26/96

Roots: Part XXVIII: Spring Creek Chapter 10 of a Centennial Series on State College Hugh Mangester State College Magazine 8/1996

Watershed needs broad care Jennifer Watson CDT 8/7/96

Learning to save the creek Ana M. Alaya CDT 9/9/96

Experts help plan for the future Ana M. Alaya 9/10/96

Future is on two agendas: Exchange, forum offer chances for community to set the course CDT

Stewardship team to stay in Bellefonte Hugh Manchester CDT Experts get 1st look at creek watershed Jerilynn Schumacher 9/14/96

Community in the race of its life CDT 9/15/96

Mission is clear: Work together Candace Dannaker CDT 10/1/96

Officials examine watershed 6 hour rail trip takes experts to creek sites Jerilynn Schumacher CDT 9/17/96

Team reports on Spring Creek Jennifer Nejman Daily Collegian 9/20/96

Report urges united front for Spring Creek’s future Jerilynn Schumacher CDT 9/20/96

County faces challenge at Spring Creek Jerilynn Schumacher CDT 9/22/96

Focus on the broad vision Cooperation among commuities is the right starting point CDT 7/29/96

Re-think and reassess Rodney Musser CDT 7/27/96

County takes steps to protect watershed Jim Mackinnon CDT

The Spring Creek Watershed Community: Seven Experts came, Toured, Talkedd, Reported, then Departeed: Now What?

Voices of Central Pennsylvania Octover 1996 Jennifer Watson and Elezateh Goreham

Spring Creek panel sets priorities Jerilynn Schumacher CDT 10/29/96

Watershed study merits strong action Greg Hartwell CDT 10/19/96

Plan calls for buffers zone to protect Spring Creek Jerilynnn Schumacher CDT 11/14/96

Plan needs all players: Penn State must be engaged in growth management efforts CDT 11/17/96

Watershed committee choses new name: Local Briefs CDT 11/17/96

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All in the Same Bathtub, Jim McLure

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