For over a decade, restoration of the Panther Hollow Watershed in Schenley Park, a key ecological area in Pittsburgh, has been underway.
What is the Panther Hollow Watershed?
Understanding this critical area starts with a word: Watershed. A watershed is the total area of land that drains into a particular body of water. Watersheds are interconnected, nested within one another, and their boundaries are their highest points.
The 300-acre Panther Hollow Watershed includes parts of Squirrel Hill, Oakland and Schenley Park. Thousands of residents live, work and play in this central watershed. This area includes historic Panther Hollow Lake, two of the last remaining above-ground streams in Pittsburgh, and over 70 acres of woodlands. Overall, 10 percent of this area is impervious, 40 percent is forest, and 45 percent is lawn.
Panther Hollow Watershed restoration
Over the last century, the makeup of this central watershed has changed drastically. Land that was once used for agriculture became neighborhoods and economic centers, while streams that fed the park were diverted underground. Over time, these changes led to more stormwater entered our city's overburdened sewer system. This long-term restoration project aims to not only alleviate this stormwater issue, but to improve the health and aesthetics of Schenley Park.
For over a decade, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, along with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, and the City of Pittsburgh, have been nursing this ailing watershed back to health. A holistic, top-to-bottom plan includes projects such as large-scale tree planings, erosion control, and the installation of green infrastructure. Most recently, a meadow and infiltration trenches along Beacon Street and retention grading at the Bob O'Connor Golf Course have been installed to divert stormwater from sewers back into the park.