Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Vote Now: Nominations For West Branch Susquehanna River Orange Rock Awards

The nominations are in and now you can vote for the winners of the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Coalition’s Orange Rock Awards to recognize the contribution a group or individual has made to cleaning up the West Branch of the Susquehanna.  Voting will close on April 6.
The categories and nominees are--
-- Outstanding Volunteers Commitment Award
-- Earl Smithmyer: Earl has been a key to the success of the Clearfield Creek Watershed Association.  He served very productively as president for four years early in CCWA’s history.  He has been a leader in organizing and conducting most of the group’s projects, including the annual Kids’ Fishing Derby and road and stream cleanup.  Earl has been a major contributor to the Clearfield Creek Assessment and other sampling programs, construction of treatment systems, education programs with students and interactions with social and political groups.  He has been an outstanding example to the rest of the watershed group and has always been there for the day-to-day chores and interactions, including providing his home as the CCWA address and “headquarters.”  Most of all, Earl has been a friend and a great person to work with.
-- Terry O’Connor: Terry O, as many know him, has become such a common face to watershed group meetings, conference and events that it’s easy to forget how much he does.  Terry has been active in  many groups such as the Anderson Creek Watershed Association, Clearfield County Senior Environment Corps and Bilger’s Rocks Association.  Terry works tirelessly to monitor local waterways, bring people together to learn about our environment and promotes the importance of clean streams.  Without Terry’s dedication many of the groups in Clearfield County would not be as successful as they are.
-- Outstanding Professional Commitment Award
-- Eric Cavazza: Eric is the Director DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.  He has held this role since 2012 and has over 1 years of experience with the DEP in many positions.  In addition to his work with the state, Eric has been active in many national activities, including the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs, and the Abandoned Mine Land Committee of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission.  Eric has been involved in a multitude of AMD abatement and treatment activities.  These include: serving on the DEP work group to establish an evaluation and approval process for the use of AMD for industrial uses including natural gas extraction, developing program implementation guidelines for BAMR’s Acid Mine Drainage Set-Aside Program, providing support to three OSM National Excellence in Abandoned Mine Reclamation Award projects in the Susquehanna Basin and developing training programs for planning/design engineers in the area of wastewater (mine drainage) monitoring, characterization and treatment including the design of passive treatment systems.
-- Mike Smith: Mike is the District Manager of  DEP’s Moshannon District Mining Office.  Mike is well known to many in the AMD world, most likely because he is the go to person for anything AMD in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.  Mike has taken the lead on many AMD related projects, and has helped to develop many initiatives throughout the West Branch to restore AMD impacted streams.  This has included work on the approval process for the use of AMD in the natural gas industry.  Mike has worked tirelessly over many years at the district to improve and protect the waters of the West Branch.
-- Scott Koser: Scott is the Watershed Specialist and Education Coordinator for the Clinton County Conservation District.  Restoration of Tangascootack Creek has been one of his priorities.  With years of dedication to this project, results are being seen.  Scott, along with other partners and Conservation District staff, have overseen the construction of seven treatment systems in the watershed.  Water Quality is starting to improve in the stream and a large number of native brook trout are being seen in sections of the stream they were not present in just a few years ago.  Scott also works to coordinate many education events including a summer day camp and education day for local 6th graders.  Scott completes all of these projects and many others, including stream habitat and stabilization projects and other AMD-related projects throughout the county.
-- Outstanding Watershed Association Commitment Award
-- Anderson Creek Watershed Association: The Anderson Creek Watershed Association was formed in 1998 to give a voice to Anderson Creek.  While the stream was largely written off as dead due to the legacy of coal mining, the dedicated volunteers of ACWA have always seen the potential of this stream.  Since its formation, ACWA has completed an assessment of the stream and developed the Anderson Creek Watershed: Assessment, Restoration and Implementation Plan. In 2008, they completed the construction of a passive treatment system on Bilger Run.  This system has extended the healthy stretches of Bilger Run and improved the overall health of the stream.  In 2013, ACWA completed restoration on an abandoned mine in the Little Anderson Creek Watershed.  This work is starting to improve the water chemistry of this section of stream.  The group has faced many obstacles in the years they have been working on these projects.  The dedicated volunteers could have easily given up years ago, but instead they have persevered!
-- Deer Creek Watershed Association: The Deer Creek Watershed Association has been working on restoring Deer Creek since 2005.  In that time they have completed an assessment of the watershed that resulted in the Deer Creek Watershed Implementation Plan.  While continuing to monitor several locations in Deer Creek, They partnered with the Clearfield County Conservation District to secure funds for the design of a passive treatment systems on the worst discharge in the watershed.  They are currently seeking funds for construction of this systems, which when completed, will improve water quality in the main stem of Deer Creek enough to support wild trout all the way to its confluence with the West Branch Susquehanna!  For years now the group has been on the verge of accomplishing their dream of one day restoring the final 3 miles of Deer Creek, the most impaired section.  Through ups and downs, success and drawbacks, they have stayed together and kept hope alive that they would succeed.  For their diligence, patience and hopefulness, they deserve to be the Outstanding Water Group of the Year for 2016.
The voting process is open, but you can only vote once. However, feel free to encourage other conservationists to vote as well!
Click Here to vote.
West Branch Restoration Symposium
Register now for the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium to be held April 14-15 in State College.  The Orange Rock Award winners will be recognized at this special event.

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