The Fish and Boat Commission Wednesday announced it has partnered with the nonprofit Ralph Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund to launch an online FirstGiving fundraising site for the Susquehanna River, broadening the agency’s efforts to save the ailing river.
"Direct fundraising is an unusual step for a state government agency, but we thought that there are many people who care about the river and would want to be able to contribute to our ‘S.O.S. – Save Our Susquehanna’ campaign,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The connection to the Ralph Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund was the perfect step in expanding the reach of the campaign since Mr. Abele was a leader in conservation and loved the river. The fund was set up to provide for tax deductible contributions to the campaign with the funding being used by the Commission for projects to improve the water quality of the Susquehanna and its tributaries."
“This is an opportunity to carry on Mr. Abele’s legacy by further raising awareness of the issues plaguing the Susquehanna River,” he added. “At the same time, the online site will help deliver a conservation message to a far greater audience and provide a mechanism for others to contribute to a fund to help the river.”
The PFBC launched its S.O.S. campaign to save the river on June 2 by announcing that a portion of license sales and proceeds from a $10 S.O.S. button would be dedicated to funding water and soil conservation projects along the Susquehanna River, whose young smallmouth bass population has been plagued over the last decade by illness and elevated mortality rates.
To kick off the campaign, the PFBC pledged $50,000 in matching funds.
So far, concerned citizens have raised more than $29,000 for the S.O.S. campaign, including a $1,000 donation from the Enola Sportsmen’s Association in Cumberland County and a $5,000 donation from the Fishing Creek Sportsmen’s Association in Columbia County.
The announcement coincides with a report released Monday by the PFBC and state Department of Environmental Protection, which concluded that herbicides and endocrine disrupting compounds are likely causes contributing to the smallmouth bass population decline. The report also identified parasites and pathogens as likely causes.
“The report released this week confirms what we’ve said all along, that the Susquehanna River is sick and needs our help before it’s too late,” Arway added. “The next step is to identify the sources of the herbicides and EDCs and to develop plans to reduce them in the river.”
“The ‘Save Our Susquehanna’ message is resonating with anglers, with sportsmen’s clubs and with others who care about the river,” he added. “I’m optimistic that with the new FirstGiving site, we will raise and exceed the $50,000 from anglers, other conservationists, and anyone who cares about our natural resources and supports our efforts to do everything in our power to protect and conserve them. Once we raise $50,000, the S.O.S. - Save Our Susquehanna! campaign will have its first $100,000 to begin working on projects to fix the river.”
To donate, visit the Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund FirstGiving webpage and use the green donate button at the bottom of the page. For background on the issue, visit the Fish and Boat Commission’s Save Our Susquehanna and Susquehanna River Impairment webpage.
To read a copy of the DEP study results so far on the Susquehanna, visit DEP’s Susquehanna River Study Updates webpage.
Related Stories:DEP Announces Major Reorganization Of Water Management, Other Responsibilities