Lake Nockamixon by Gina Frederick

Lake Nockamixon is a 1,450 acre  lake central to Nockamixon State Park in Quakertown, PA. The  lake and park are in Haycock  Township, located in upper Bucks County. Owned by the  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,  the park is managed by the Department of Conservation and  Natural Resources (DCNR).  Created as a reservoir in 1973,

Lake Nockamixon is the largest water body in the region. Nockamixon State Park encompasses the land surrounding Lake Nockamixon, constituting one of the largest State Parks in southeastern Pennsylvania at 5,300 acres.

Lake Nockamixon serves as the dividing line for the Upper Tohickon Creek watershed. All of the lands in the upper portion of this watershed drain to the lake. From the impoundment at the eastern end of the lake, water  drains to the Lower Tohickon Creek 
watershed, which then drains to the Delaware River.

LAND CHARACTERISTICS

Lake Nockamixon is situated in the Piedmont  Upland physiographic province, which is 
underlain  by consolidated geologic formations of Triassic age.  Triassic rocks found 
within the watershed include  either Brunswick Formation, which consists of shale  
and argillite, or the Lockatong Formation, which consists of siltstone and shale. While the Brunswick  Formation occupies the majority of the watershed, the  Lockatong Formation is found at the lower portion of the  watershed. Diabase intrusions can be found 
throughout  the northern and western portions of the watershed.

Because these geologic formations have generally low- yielding groundwater aquifers, groundwater recharge is critical to stormwater management within this  watershed. When stormwater infiltrates into aquifers, base flow may be maintained or increased. Stormwater  infiltration may also allow for aquifer recharge, which will maintain groundwater yields. As development,  and the associated increase in impervious surfaces, is expected to increase around the upper portions of the  Tohickon Creek watershed, it is important to manage 
stormwater runoff as wisely as  possible (Bucks County Planning Commission, 1996).

The topography of the area is typically flat to gently rolling hills. Prominent ridges and mountains occur where diabase intrusions exist in the northern portion of the watershed. The area is characterized by extensive areas of contiguous forests, hills and ridges, gently sloping valleys and plateaus, state and county park lands, farmland, extensive areas of isolated wetlands and several notable aquatic habitats including Quakertown Swamp, Lake Nockamixon, and Lake Towhee (Princeton Hydro & Boucher & James, 2005). Absence of lakes and ponds is the result of absence of glacial activity within the region over recent geologic time. It is for this reason that the standing water bodies within the watershed are the result of human activity.

Upland forests are dominated by red oak—mixed hardwood forests and tulip tree— beech—maple forests, the latter particularly common throughout diabase areas. Areas of Haycock Mountain and Nockamixon State Park have limited populations of birch— blackgum rock slope woodlands. Areas with poor drainage constitute forests composed of pin oak, swamp white oak, elm, and shagbark hickory. Coniferous trees are limited in the watershed, occurring primarily on north and west-facing slopes. The vertical structure of the forests has been considerably altered due to elevated whitetail deer populations which eliminate much of the understory layer. As a result, sugar maple and many invasive species dominate the understory, limiting habitat diversity. Regeneration of these mature forests is threatened because canopy seedlings are absent in many areas

(Rhoads and Block, 1999).

 

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