Milesburn Run

Milesburn Run, from the headwaters of Burd Run, in Michaux State Forest is pictured in this recent photo.



Editor’s Note: This is a column on area watersheds by Blyden Potts and guest columnists to spread awareness of the area’s tributaries and the efforts of area volunteers to keep them clean.


If you are about my age, you may recall “Adventures of Letterman” from the PBS TV show The Electric Company.

The villainous Spell Binder would alter words to create a crisis, then Letterman – no relation to the Late Night talk show host – would swoop in and save the day by again altering the words to avert disaster.

One of those guys must have been in my head the other day, because I heard myself saying “As the Burd flows,” and realized

immediately it was a corruption of “as the bird flies.”

There are several destinations much closer to Shippensburg “as the bird flies” than as the human drives. The proverbial bird flies 43 miles to York. The driver needs 50, going direct, or 62 miles if taking the quick way, a semi-circular route that passes Harrisburg. State College is 55 miles; if you’re a crow. It is 85 miles and close to two hours if you take the highway.

Rivers can be worse than roads in that way. The meanders and oxbows on the lower Conodoguinet zig and zag more than a half dozen times getting to the Susquehanna, like a miniature Mississippi, but Burd Run is fairly direct, as waterways go.

The idea I had in mind was not distance, but volume of water.

Portions of Burd Run are intermittent. The stream dries out when rainfall events get few and far between, as the water table sinks into the ground below the streambed. In the Michaux right now, two little mountain streams – Milesburn Run and Catos Run (if that is its name)  – gurgle and cascade down their respective hillsides, and eventually merge to form Burd Run. Approaching Cleversburg, the slope flattens out.

The stream seems to lose some water.

How much is evaporating versus how much becomes groundwater, or is taken up by thirsty flora along the stream, I don’t know. There is still flowing water at Cleversburg, along Neil Road, and all the way down to Airport Road Park. Those sections usually dry up later in the year, but are still flowing as I type these words.

Surface water ends when the stream reaches the Cleversburg Sink. Behind the soccer fields, what remains of it, flows into the limestone bedrock. From the park down, along Airport and Walnut Bottom roads to U.S. Route 11, the streambed is dry, with a few puddles and moist areas remaining. If we get heavy rain, that may change.

The spring by the Fire Hall continues to flow. Presumably so do whatever other springs may feed the wetlands behind CVS. There is water from King Street to the confluence with Middle Spring. I doubt this section ever goes dry. It sustains fish, so there must be at least pools of water year-round.

Some of the pools on the section that crosses campus are more than 2 feet deep. MSWA did a stream cleanup in that section on Saturday. We took out three large bags of trash and a few large items. That was a very light load of trash compared to what we took out of there last October. Maybe the flow of trash is ebbing.

MSWA’s next stream cleanup is scheduled for Saturday morning, July 10, weather permitting.

If you would like to volunteer, keep an eye on MSWA’s website and social media for details as we approach July.

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