Four environmental programs from throughout Western Pennsylvania will share $20,000 from Dominion and the PA Environmental Council for innovation and effectiveness in making a positive impact on the environment.
In addition to these four organizations, the PA Environmental Council will present lifetime achievement awards to R. John Dawes, executive director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, and John Schombert, retired executive director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather.
Western PA Environmental Awards
The winners of the 2017 Western PA Environmental Awards are:
-- Center for Watershed Research & Service – Loretto, Cambria County: The Center for Watershed Research & Service (CWRS) is a nonprofit organization that actively incorporates faculty and student resources at St. Francis University to aid in watershed restoration in the surrounding area.
Much-needed engineering assistance is provided and students in the Environmental Engineering program at SFU provide countless hours of volunteering and service. Over the last four years, work-study students have been funded by SFU to provide water quality sampling assistance to the Blair County Conservation District.
The expertise accessible through the CWRS has helped foster a public-private partnership that resulted in fee-for-service consultations. And the CWRS works to provide service learning opportunities for students through curriculum enrichment and volunteering opportunities.
Through the work study program at the CWRS, students can learn about and experience an array of jobs in their field of study. Contact: Bill Strosnider, Saint Francis University, 814-471-1144, firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Little Juniata River Association – Altoona, Blair County: Years of industrial and sewage pollution took a great toll on the water quality of the Little Juniata River, a Class A wild brown trout fishery known for excellent recreation. To protect the fishery from future degradation, the Little Juniata River Association was formed.
Since 2010, the LJRA has constructed over 1400 linear feet of stream bank stabilization structures and planted more than 28,000 square feet of riparian buffers. LJRA members teamed with Juniata College to study the migration patterns of brown trout throughout the river system and target conservation work in those areas where trout seek refuge.
The LJRA organizes an annual cleanup along the entire 32 miles of river. Over 200 volunteers participate in the event each year and help to remove many tons of trash and hundreds of tires from the “Little J” and its tributaries. The LJRA has also purchased permanent public access easements along 4.5 miles of the river to protect it from privatization. Contact: Bill Anderson, 814-684-5922, email@example.com.
-- Millvale EcoDistrict Collaborative – Millvale, Allegheny County: The Millvale EcoDistrict Collaborative is working with residents and businesses to address sustainable community development through the lens of food, water, energy, air, mobility, and equity.
Today, Millvale maintains over 91 solar panels on community-owned buildings, which generate over 27,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year–the equivalent to preventing over 21 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Rain gardens at the library and municipal parking lot have been capturing stormwater through natural design for over four years, preventing stormwater from entering Girty’s Run and demonstrating the effectiveness of green infrastructure in local stormwater management.
Meanwhile, newly installed bioswales have effectively captured and slowed down impacts from over 80 percent of rainfall events.
The Gardens of Millvale have increased the production of fresh food within Millvale each year as part of a resident-driven initiative to reverse food insecurity. These gardens now have over 50 raised beds, along with a greenhouse for extended seasonal food production and an orchard. Contact: Amy Rockwell, Millvale Borough Manager, 412-821-2777, firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Rosebud Mining – Ehrenfeld, Cambria County: For nearly four decades, a 60-acre refuse pile loomed over the town of Ehrenfeld in Cambria County near Johnstown. The site was a significant health and safety problem with steep, unstable and erosive outslopes. Over the years, large scale reclamation proved too costly.
But Rosebud Mining presented a solution that would treat not just the acres of refuse from the mines, but also an additional 80 acres of near-by pits and highwalls.
Rosebud moved material from the refuse piles into 80 acres of pre-regulated mine features— eliminating a need for hauling and landfilling the material at a permitted facility. Since Rosebud owned the adjacent lands, there was no longer a need for transporting the refuse over public roads.
Additionally, seven mine water discharges from throughout the region required treatment in order to restore the Little Conemaugh. The Rosebud Mining reclamation project single handedly achieved an overall discharge load reduction of nearly 56 percent.
Contact: Cliff Forest, President, Rosebud Mining, 724-545-6222.
All four award winners were chosen by a group of independent judges, environmental experts, and PEC staff in response to a call for entries earlier this year.
With these awards, each winner will designate a $5,000 cash prize to be used in support of a nonprofit environmental program of their choice.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
The PA Environmental Council is also recognizing these individuals with Lifetime Achievement Awards--
-- R. John Dawes, executive director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds: As Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds since 1994, John Dawes has supervised the distribution of over $110 million in small grants to over 150 environmental and watershed associations throughout the state, mostly in the area of abandoned mine reclamation.
A longtime leader in the region’s watershed repair and conservation efforts, Dawes was instrumental in securing more than $1 billion in federal funding to address Pennsylvania’s critical AMD problem and is a powerful voice in environmental protection and conservation throughout the Commonwealth.
Mr. Dawes is chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council for the Chesapeake Bay Commission and received a Conservation Leadership Award from the Pennsylvania Conservation Commission.
-- John Schombert, retired executive director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather: John Schombert has dedicated his long and distinguished career to addressing one of the most daunting environmental challenges facing the Pittsburgh region – the control and management of stormwater.
He has been the Executive Director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather since its founding in 1998 and worked for nearly three decades in the Allegheny County Health Department’s (ACHD) water pollution, public drinking water and waste management programs.
He is the chairman of the Coraopolis Water and Sewer Authority, member of the Riverview Sanitary Authority and a member the Pennsylvania State Board for the Certification of Sewage Treatment Plant and Waterworks Operators and the Pennsylvania Water Resource Advisory Board.
Awards Dinner May 24
The winners will be honored at the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony on May 24 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook. Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts. Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.