White Clay Creek

Delaware, Pennsylvania

In 1991, citizens of the White Clay Creek area requested that the creek and its tributaries be considered for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The White Clay Creek study represents the first time an entire watershed was studied for designation. In 2000, the White Clay Creek and several tributaries—including parts of the East Branch and all of West Branch, Pike and Mill Creeks, and Middle Run—were added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Building on that success, another nine miles of the watershed were designated in 2014.

The White Clay Creek Scenic & Recreational River flows through southwestern Chester County, Pennsylvania, and northwestern New Castle County, Delaware. The urban center of Newark, Delaware, is located in the southern end of the watershed.

The White Clay Creek watershed is an exceptional resource in the bi-state area, renowned for its scenery, opportunities for birdwatching and trout fishing, and for its historic features, such as lime kilns and 19th century mills. Other important resources include the federally listed endangered bog turtle, the most extensive mature Piedmont forests remaining in the state of Delaware, and the Cockeysville Marble Formation, an exceptional aquifer.

The watershed is an important source of drinking water for residents in both Pennsylvania and Delaware. Part of the Christina River Basin, White Clay Creek is a critical link to the Delaware Estuary, which is nationally and internationally important. Municipalities, counties, states and federal agencies, together with private organizations and landowners, participate in maintaining the high quality of the White Clay Creek watershed through a committee representing all watershed interests. A key principle of the administrative framework is that existing institutions and authorities will play the primary roles in the long-term protection of the watershed. Watershed residents are active stewards of the river area and must be especially vigilant due to environmental impacts from the proximity of the Philadelphia and Wilmington-Newark metropolitan areas. These impacts to the watershed include pollution, fewer migrating birds, and receding forests.