Allentown's Parkway with it's riparian buffers?
Nobody's saying neither the Monocacy, Cedar Creek nor Little Lehigh should be gabion lined completely. But it would certainly be more attractive then if there were none at all. Same goes with removing every last dam (including teeny tiny partial rock dams no matter how small).
The 'Little Lehigh Creek is 24 miles long. It flows through the Lehigh Parkway in Allentown which is 6.5 miles long. I'd be quite certain a few gabion areas here and there for a mile or two wouldn't be catastrophic. The same goes for Cedar Creek which is 15 miles long. Only about 1.5 miles of it runs through the Cedar Beach area in Allentown.
What sets the Cedar Beach area apart (with it's riparian buffers) is the fact street drains flow directly into the creek behind them. Street runoff comes from South of Hamilton street to beyond North of Tilghman street for almost this entire length. Hence creating no mow zones and riparian buffers in this area is practically useless. They serve only to take away visitor's access and views.
The following chart is from a 1976 study done by Lehigh University entitled, Storm water management for little lehigh and cedar creek drainage basins.
The Point I'm Trying To Make Is...
There's no reason why certain parks in designated areas can't be both visually appealing and readily accessible along their embankments. By utilizing gabions in areas where embankments are prone to reoccurring erosion (despite riparian implantation) they require no maintenance and last for decades. Because of riparian buffers' tendency towards invasive plant species neither would this be a concern.
Is this about environmental science or political science?
No one has spoken more about this subject then "Molovinsky On Allentown". Check out some of his posts concerning riparian buffers. In particular check out his picture post showing just one of the street drains going into Cedar Creek.