Panther Hollow Watershed
What is a watershed?
A watershed is the total area of land that drains into a particular body of water. Watersheds are interconnected and nested within one another. The boundaries of a watershed are its highest points.
Panther Hollow Watershed at a glance
The Panther Hollow Watershed is a 300-acre, historic watershed that includes parts of Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Schenley Park. This watershed has a number of unique features:
- Two of the last remaining above-ground streams in Pittsburgh
- A popular area where thousands of people live, work and play
- A highly valued historic lake that is a major focus of restoration
- 72 forested acres that greatly benefit a frequently flooded sewershed
Panther Hollow is a 'beheaded' watershed, meaning the upper boundaries of the watershed (Squirrel Hill and Oakland) are disconnected from the lower watershed. In other words, rainwater that falls on the upper watershed cannot drain naturally into the streams and lake of the lower watershed drains but rather drains into combined sewer overflow pipes. Rainwater that falls on the lower portions of the watershed finds its way to the two streams and Panther Hollow Lake, eventually draining into the combine sewer overflow system.
This crucial watershed has undergone major redevelopment due to urbanization. Today, impervious surfaces have created four times as much rainwater runoff, yet the land area that drains to the streams has been cut in half. In the park itself, 10% of surfaces are impervious, 45% is lawn, and 41% is forest.
Restoring Panther Hollow Watershed
For over a decade, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has persistently and thoroughly worked to restore this key ecological area to complete landscape restoration, such as reestablishing forest canopy, increasing meadow cover and managing invasive plants. The Parks Conservancy has collaborated with a number of universities during the course of this work to collect key pieces of data to fully inform restoration efforts.
This work not only improves the health and aesthetics of Schenley Park, but also serves as a replicable model for restoration work across the region as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy strives to employ many transit, technological and green infrastructure solutions in the watershed restoration plans. Community input and stormwater best management practices stand at the forefront of this work.