Highlight the Highlands: Partners Defend Tohickon Creek, Bucks County

The eastern-most section of the PA Highlands borders the renowned Delaware River from Easton in Northampton County to Washington Crossing in Bucks County,and the area falls within the Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River System. The Tohickon Creek waterway – which flows directly into the Delaware River – faces a PADEP-proposed stream designation downgrade despite its location within the nationally-designated Highlands and the Wild & Scenic River regions.

25 years ago, the Tinicum Conservancy submitted a petition to PA Department of Environmental Protection urging that the waterway be designated as “exceptional value,” but in early April 2019 PADEP issued a draft report that recommends the stream is not upgraded – but downgraded from its current designation. 

The downgrade in designation would offer the Tohickon Creek even less protection from development pressure.  The waterway is positioned in the center of Bucks County, and according to the county’s 2010 census, 44% of the population is concentrated in Lower Bucks. However, by the year 2020, the population of Central Bucks is projected to almost equal that of Lower Bucks. The area will continue to face increasing development pressure in the future, and the Tohickon Creek should be protected and managed as the important resource it is to the growing communities near the waterway.

The waters of the Tohickon Creek journey from the dam on the southeastern side of Nockamixon State Park past many preserved and publicly-owned lands – including Bucks County Natural Areas, Open Space lands, Tohickon Valley Park, and Ralph Stover State Park – to its confluence with the Lower Delaware River near Point Pleasant. 

As pictured above, the public land investments surrounding the Tohickon Creek tributary are substantial.


The preserved lands serve to enhance the waterway from a comprehensive conservation perspective, as well offer outdoor recreation opportunities for the public. The Tohickon Creek is a valuable regional, state and local asset that provides opportunities to kayak, fish, wade and enjoy observation of the waterway.

The community investment along the Delaware River tributary does not end with preservation of lands for conservation and outdoor recreation.  The waterway has multi-faceted value, and advocates for the Tohickon Creek are working together to urge PADEP to reconsider the proposed downgrade. PADEP has an important role in monitoring waterways statewide and recommending appropriate stream designations, yet the technical assessments relied upon by the agency may not tell the full story.

The comment period on PADEP Draft Proposal closed on 7/11/19.  The partners listed in this article and more put together strong arguments in favor of Tohickon Creek. Read them in DEP’s eComment portal.


To learn more about partner efforts to engage the public in the call for a comprehensive assessment of the Tohickon Creek in determining the appropriate stream designation category, visit the resources listed below:

Tinicum Conservancy

Delaware River Keeper

State Representative Wendy Ullman

Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic River


To learn more about PADEP stream regulations and the exceptional value designation and petitions, watch the recently hosted lunchtime webinars by Our Pocono Waters:

Webinar #1 – “Getting Your Feet Wet: An Overview of EV Stream Regulations and How They Can Benefit the Community” 

Webinar #3 – “What is and what is not: A Case Study on Stream Designation Petitions” 


The Pennsylvania Highlands is home to critical treasures and extraordinary organizations. Highlight the Highlands is a blog series that features outstanding places and projects in the PA Highlands. Find past and future installments on pahighlands.org/category/news.

The Pennsylvania Highlands is part of the four-state Highlands region, a nationally recognized high-value natural resource conservation landscape stretching from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. Funding for conservation projects in the Highlands is provided by the federal Highlands Conservation Act. For more information on federal funding, click here.