Conejohela Flats is a combination of small brushy islands and adjacent mud flats on the Susquehanna River.The mud flats are produced when Safe Harbor Dam lowers the Lake Clarke area of the Susquehanna for electricity generation. The islands are covered by a mixture of shrubs, some deciduous trees, grasses and sedges, and Purple Loosestrife. the flats are exposed and flooded weekdays by the operation of the dam. When exposed in spring and fall, they provide habitat for migrating shorebirds. There are some larger islands with deciduous growth, but they are note specially important for birds at this time. However, they did hold a large colonial breeding population of Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night-Herons in the past.
Directions: South on Rt. 441 from Columbia for approx. 3 miles. Turn right on Blue Rock Rd. to the river.
One of only a handful of dependable sites in Pennsylvania for large numbers and variety of shorebirds, Conejohela Flats hosts up to 17,000+/- migratory shorebirds during migration. A total of 37 shorebird species has been recorded at this site. This area is also a stopover and possibly a breeding habitat for numerous wetland species (e.g., grebes, rails) and waterfowl. Bald Eagle and Osprey use the river for feeding and the flats for resting.
The dam operator has applied to raise the water level in Lake Clark, which could inundate the mud flats and eliminate shorebird habitat. Encroachment by Purple Loosestrife is also a critical threat. Disturbance from recreational boaters and personal watercraft could affect migratory species.
Conservation groups have met with the power company to discuss alternatives, and in March 1997 the company issued a revised plan for comment. Lancaster County Bird Club is coordinating studies on the potential effects of water level changes. Discussions are underway with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to restrict watercraft encroachment in the area around the mudflats.