Thursday, April 23, 2015

PA Environmental Professionals Honor Bernard McGurl, John Arway

The PA Association of Environmental Professionals Thursday announced the selection of Bernard McGurl, Lackawanna River Corridor Association, for the Walter Lyon Award and John Arway, Fish & Boat Commission, for the Karl Mason Award.
Bernard McGurl
He has championed the rebirth of the Lackawanna River and its watershed for over 25 years. He has partnered with a wide range of individuals, non-profit organizations, businesses, local municipalities and state/federal agencies, resulting in improved water quality and aquatic diversity in the river, a network of rail-trails, acres of reclaimed abandoned mine lands, and an engaged public.
Bernie McGurl was one of the over 200 citizens who founded the Lackawanna River Corridor Association in 1987.
The LRCA is a not-for-profit, community based, river and watershed conservation organization established in 1987 “to promote the conservation, protection and appropriate management of the Lackawanna River and its Watershed resources.”
He served in a volunteer capacity as its President from 1989 to 1991. During his term as President he led the watershed planning effort that resulted in the Lackawanna River Citizens Master Plan.
Over the past 25 years through Bernie’s efforts:
-- The water quality, in many miles of the Lackawanna River and its tributaries, has improved to the point that the River is now recognized as a destination for trout fishermen.
-- A cyclist can now pedal along the river for over 15 miles, from Taylor through Scranton to Peckville and Jermyn, on a network of rail trails and the river levees.
-- The importance of watershed lands and open spaces was documented in the Lackawanna County-Luzerne County Open Space Plan and critical areas are now protected by national and local land trusts.
-- The community now sees the river as a natural resource to be protected and enjoyed, as seen by the hundreds participating yearly in the LRCA’s annual Canoe-A-Thon and RiverFest.
Bernie has forged partnerships with local, state and national government bodies, with businesses, with civic organizations and with individuals to implement the Master Plan.
Through his efforts, parents no longer tell their children to stay away from that dirty river; instead they all take a bike ride along the river on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, watching the mallard swim by.
John Arway
Throughout his 35-year water resource-focused career, John has tirelessly demonstrated exemplary leadership in protecting and enhancing the surface water resources of the Commonwealth and the nation. He is widely respected by his peers.  
In his role as Chief of Environmental Services for over 30 years he led the development and implementation for the PFBC of many innovative water resource management measures including:
-- The annual review of 2500 waterway permit applications to protect aquatic habitat from physical encroachments of streams and wetlands by proposed highways, pipelines, peat extraction sites, sand and gravel dredging, housing projects and other development activities.
-- PFBC pioneered the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to spatially organize natural resource information in order to promote information transfer among agency staff, other agencies and the public.
-- Functioned as contact for Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 USC 661 et seq. consultations for water resource development projects with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
-- John functioned as agency contact and agency senior expert witness for Natural Resource Damage Assessment claims for damages to aquatic trust species as regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection and U. S. Environmental Protection Agency under state and federal Superfund laws. Establish resource damage penalties and assist in settlement negotiations.  
-- Successfully negotiated claims for the Ashland Oil Spill ($1.75 million), PCB contamination from Texas Eastern Pipeline sites ($1.25 million), and brine discharges from Pennzoil’s oil wells ($150,000) among many others.  These funds were specifically restricted to be spent on remediating damages to affected waterways.
-- The PFBC manages the Adopt-a-stream and Adopt-a-lake habitat improvement programs that involve the planning, design, construction and monitoring  of over 200 stream and 1100 lake structures.
-- The PFBC reviewed and coordinated comments on management plans for DCNR State Park and State Forest lands.
The PFBC with John as current Executive Director, is an outstanding environmental professional organization with a commitment to stewardship of the Commonwealth's surface water resources. The PFBC focuses on protecting and enhancing our fisheries for current and future generations.
PAEP would like to thank all the nominations that were received, as this was a very difficult choice.  
The awards will be presented at the 30th Annual PAEP Conference at Toftrees Resort, May 6 - 8, with the Awards luncheon scheduled for May 7.  
For more information and past recipients of these awards, visit the PAEP Karl Mason and Walter Lyon Awards webpage.

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