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State College – A community conservation program aimed at preventing pollution from entering central Pennsylvania waterways is a winner of the 2014 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards, announced today by Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
Representatives of the ClearWater Conservancy will accept the award at the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. The award is presented for leadership, effectiveness and results in making an impact on the environment by Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and includes a $5,000 donation.
Miles of streams and creeks in central Pennsylvania are impaired by agriculture. So the ClearWater Conservancy developed its Riparian Conservation Program to restore functioning streambank buffer zones in Central Pennsylvania watersheds.
Thirty-six individual volunteers and three corporate groups acted as site stewards and another 85 volunteers assisted with restoration work in 2013, the inaugural year of the riparian site steward program. Over the course of the year, stewards and volunteers collectively invested 800 hours in the program and planted 375 seedlings at 17 existing restoration sites and another 360 seedlings at three new restoration sites.
To date the Riparian Conservation Program has protected 4,600 acres of high-value riparian habitat. More than 300 ClearWater staff and volunteers have installed riparian buffers along more than 69,890 feet of stream. They’ve also installed 35,988 feet of streambank fencing and 16 stream crossings for livestock, removed three dams, installed 168 streambank stabilization and fish habitat enhancement structures, and treated countless acres of invasive species.
This project is one of four winners from throughout Western Pennsylvania chosen to receive this award by a group of independent judges of environmental experts and Pennsylvania Environmental Council staff in response to a call for entries earlier this year.
All entries were judged on the basis of their relevance to local environmental priorities, evidence of their impact on the environment, their approach to solving an environmental problem, and the environmental benefit of their work.
About the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards
The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards program is open to individuals and organizations that demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership and accomplishment, and made significant contributions toward improving Western Pennsylvania’s environment. Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council sponsor the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards each year to encourage the community to emulate the achievements of the winning entries, thereby promoting innovative environmental efforts and enhancing the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania.
The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards recognizes and honors outstanding achievements of organizations, businesses, and individuals in a wide range of environmental initiatives throughout the region and pays tribute to those that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership, and accomplishment in their respective fields.
The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards program is made possible by a grant from Dominion.… read more
Construction is under way on the first phase of the new Musser Gap Greenway, a recreational connection between Rothrock State Forest and the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park. The trail will be completed and open in spring 2014.
The effort is a collaboration between ClearWater Conservancy and Penn State.
“This project is the culmination of a lot of planning and a lot of dreaming,” said Dan Sieminski, associate vice president for Finance and Business at Penn State. “This is a wonderful use of the property and a great partnership between the University and the community.”
The Greenway will eventually link the Musser Gap parking area off of State Route 45 in Rothrock State Forest to the planned Whitehall Road Regional Park on Whitehall Road.
“ClearWater Conservancy is excited about the greenway because, when it is complete, residents and visitors alike will be able to access Rothrock State Forest safely by foot or by bike from just about anywhere in State College,” said ClearWater’s conservation biologist Katie Ombalski.
Once complete in fall 2015 or spring 2016, residents and visitors using the existing Centre Region bikeway system will be able to travel from downtown State College to Rothrock State Forest. Phase 1 includes the section from the Musser Gap parking area that crosses SR 45 (Shingletown Road) and Slab Cabin Run to a gravel road on existing farmland.
Surfacing of the greenway is happening in phases, with the fall construction almost complete. The final trail surface layer will be deferred until spring when conditions will be right to ensure proper curing.
“Increasing public access to conserved lands and nature improves the quality of life for everyone in our region and is an important part of ClearWater’s mission,” said Ombalski.
“We were happy to be able to partner with ClearWater,” added Sieminski, “and also the many other local and regional organizations who also made this project a reality.”
Primary funding for the first phase of the Musser Gap Greenway comes from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation and Bureau of Forestry, Stahl Sheaffer Engineering, Penn State, ClearWater Conservancy, Department of Community and Economic Development, Centre Region Bike Coalition, Bikes Belong Coalition, Kodak American Greenways, State College Borough and Ferguson Township.
Additional Greenway partners include Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Outdoor Experience Organization, Freeze Thaw Cycles, The Bicycle Shop, Specialized, Rothrock Trail Challenge, LaSportiva, Sweetland Engineering and Associates, and WHM Solutions. The general contractor for the project is John Nastase Construction.
The 423-acre Musser Gap property was conserved by ClearWater Conservancy in 2006 and transferred to Rothrock State Forest in 2007. ClearWater Conservancy is also partnering with Penn State to plant a riparian buffer along Slab Cabin Run as part of this project.… read more
Kevin Abbey of Ferguson Township has joined State College–based ClearWater Conservancy as its Land Conservation Manager.
Abbey will build upon the work of Bill Hilshey, who has been with ClearWater since 2004. Hilshey is relocating to Missoula, Montana.
In his new role, Abbey’s chief responsibility will be to work with landowners who want to protect their property with a legal agreement called a conservation easement. He will also be responsible for monitoring ClearWater’s protected properties.
“I’m absolutely delighted to join the dedicated team of professionals at Clearwater and look forward to supporting the organization and its essential mission within our community,” he said.
Abbey brings more than 30 years of experience in community development, technical outreach, environmental management, and transportation policy to ClearWater. His former position of general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority brought Abbey and his young family to the Centre Region in 1984. Followed by service in the Senate of Pennsylvania as executive director of the Transportation Committee and more recent assignments at Penn State’s Institute of Energy and the Environment, PennTAP and the College of Engineering, he has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the environment.
He received a BS in zoology from the University of Michigan, an MA in language and literature from Central Michigan University and has a professional certification in applied river morphology.
“We are thrilled that Kevin Abbey is joining the ClearWater team. He has the set of skills that we need to grow our Land Conservation Program by proactively working with landowners to protect the most sensitive and threatened natural resources in our region,” ClearWater Executive Director Jennifer Shuey said.
ClearWater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), Centre County based land trust and environmental conservation organization formed in 1980 with the mission of promoting the conservation and restoration of natural resources in central Pennsylvania through land conservation, water resource protection, and environmental outreach to the community. For more information about ClearWater Conservancy’s conservation, restoration, or education projects or to view an upcoming schedule of events, visit clearwaterconservancy.org or clearwaterconservancy.ning.com.… read more