The consultants working with the Lackawanna River Conservation Association on an ecological restoration plan for the Leggett’s Creek Greenway want to know what plants, animals and insects already inhabit the North Scranton site.
On Saturday, the public will have a chance to learn along with them.
The LRCA is seeking volunteers to assist with a cleanup of Leggett’s Creek from 9 a.m. to noon that will coincide with a “mini BioBlitz” biodiversity survey aimed at identifying as many species that call the stream and its environs home as possible.
While about a dozen professionals and naturalists have signed on to conduct the BioBlitz assessment, the key component is really education, said Paul Bechtel, an environmental scientist with Thomas J. McLane Associates and greenway project manager.
There will be opportunities for the cleanup volunteers to interact with the survey team, and they could be called upon to assist, he said.
“The public can be involved with the BioBlitz surveyors to learn as much as they want in those three hours,” Bechtel said.
On behalf of the city, the LRCA was awarded a $50,000 grant last year through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to address environmental issues in the Leggett’s Creek Greenway.
It is using the funding to prepare a restoration plan that would include a recreational component along a one-mile section of the greenway between Rockwell Avenue and Wells Street. The project area is bookended by McLain Park along Rockwell and the Marvine Dutch Gap Little League at Wells.
McLane Associates and Colwell-Naegele Associates are assisting the LRCA on the project.
The purpose of the mini BioBlitz is to provide a baseline of the aquatic and terrestrial life along the greenway — plants, mammals, birds, fish, insects, reptiles, fungi, mosses and more — before any restoration work starts, Bechtel said.
“On cursory review, it looks like there are a lot of invasive plants like knotweed and garlic mustard,” he said.
Once the baseline is determined, comparison to the results of future BioBlitzes will show how restoration measures undertaken along greenway are impacting biodiversity, he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll start seeing increased benefits for the environment and recreation,” Bechtel said.
Bernie McGurl, LRCA executive director, said a pedestrian trail planned for the greenway will not only tie the North Scranton neighborhood together, it will become a crucial link in any future effort to connect the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail to trails in the Abingtons.
Before that happens, the BioBlitz will help guide the association’s decision-making with respect to the Leggett’s Creek project, he said.
“It provides us with an opportunity to highlight the project to the community and get the community involved with it,” McGurl said.