Little Seneca Creek Subwatershed
The Little Seneca Creek subwatershed is a large portion of the Seneca Creek watershed, as well as the drainage creek for much of the western part of the County. The stream system originates south of Damascus and drains areas of Clarksburg, Germantown, and Boyds before joining Great Seneca Creek just above Route 28 at Dawsonville.
A Journey Through the Little Seneca Subwatershed
Little Seneca Lake, located near Boyds, is a large regional impoundment that serves as an emergency water supply source. This lake is the focal point of the Black Hill Regional Park and is known locally as a prime location to view wintering waterfowl. It has been stocked with tiger muskie, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.
Little Seneca Creek upstream of the lake is designated recreational trout waters by the state (Use IV-P) due to temperature and dissolved oxygen standards that make it suitable for an adult trout put-and-take population. Downstream of the Little Seneca Lake dam, cold-water discharges from the deeper part of the lake provide a natural trout waters designation (Use III-P) to the confluence with Bucklodge Branch. Rainbow and brown trout are found in this section, as well as a diverse cold-water community. Beaver have impounded large areas of Little Seneca below the lake, and massive beaver dams 5 to 6 feet high can be found.
Portions of the Upper Little Seneca Creek and Ten Mile Creek subwatersheds have been shaped by geological forces unique to this part of the County. A fracture fault line runs through these and the adjacent Little Bennett subwatersheds. These fault lines have influenced the channel morphology dramatically. The Ten Mile Creek subwatershed has an incredibly diverse and sensitive stream bug community. Many different stoneflies and mayflies can be found in this high-quality stream. During warm winter days in late February, winter stoneflies emerge in large numbers and can be seen flying against the snow.
Land Use Around Little Seneca Creek
The Little Seneca subwatershed has a very mixed character of land uses, including rural areas around Boyds and the west side of Clarksburg, and higher density land uses in Germantown and Clarksburg. Located along I-270, both Clarksburg and Germantown are "corridor communities" in the County's General Plan, and they contain existing and planned development in support of the County's housing and job needs. Southwest of Germantown, land uses in the watershed are typical of the agricultural reserve, with a mixture of farms and large-lot residential areas, interspersed with commercial uses at several crossroads.
Clarksburg Special Protection Area
Extensive planning efforts have occurred as part of the Germantown Master Plan and Clarksburg Master Plan to protect stream quality in Little Seneca Creek. These efforts include density limitations, stream valley park acquisition and dedication, reforestation, and designation of a part of Clarksburg as a Special Protection Area (SPA). SPA regulatory requirements include enhanced plan review, stream monitoring, and best management practice (BMP) performance monitoring for new development.
How Can I Help Protect the Little Seneca Creek Subwatershed?
Over time, the character of the subwatershed will change considerably as the corridor cities develop. Individuals interested in helping to protect the health of the Little Seneca Creek can contact the Seneca Creek Watershed Partners. This organization of local citizens prides itself in keeping the streams in the Seneca Creek watershed healthy and alive.