A half-mile-long nature trail along the bank of the revitalized Burd Run is approaching completion.
The mulch footpath that twists through the meadow along Britton Road is the final phase of a cooperative project started in the fall of 2001 by the state, Shippensburg Township, Shippensburg University and the Cumberland County Conservation District.
Interpretive signs along the finished trail will explain the "in-stream best management practices" conservationists used to restore the stream to health, according to Vince McCollum of the conservation district.
A larger display at the start of the nature trail will explain the concept of a watershed and illustrate the niche Burd Run occupies as it flows into Middle Spring Creek, Conodoguinet Creek, the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Designers of the Burd Run Stream Channel Riparian Zone and Wetlands Restoration project started with a stream which they say was relocated to an artificial position sometime in the past.
The stream flowed in a generally straight line from Britton Road to an underpass beneath the railroad bed that is now home to a Cumberland Valley Rails to Trails path.
When the project began in 2001, Burd Run was still and brackish and the stream bed was nearly dammed by vegetation in some places.
Today it flows noisily downstream and is filled with healthy watercress and abundant signs of aquatic life.
Increased rainfall over the past year was partially responsible for the health of Burd Run, but McCollum says the relocation and restoration of the stream contributed heavily to its rebirth.
Excavators dug a new channel that coiled through pasture land and simulations of natural stream features were installed.
McCollum says the rock vortex weirs, root wads and log vanes built into the new channel supported aquatic habitat and stream health.
The project included a variety of grasses, trees and shrubbery planted along the bank to provide shade for the stream and help absorb nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in the soil. Those plants are also flourishing two years later.
Burd Run originates in Big Flat south of Shippensburg and flows beneath routes 174, 11 and 696 on its way to Middle Spring Creek.