Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Western PA Conservancy Protects 329 Acres In Laurel Highlands, Somerset County

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Tuesday  announced the permanent protection of hundreds of forested acres in the Laurel Highlands along two miles of the Great Allegheny Passage.
The acquisition of a 329-acre tract of land in Black Township, Somerset County, is one of five properties conserved in recent years along the GAP and added to WPC’s now 609-acre Casselman River Conservation Area.
According to the Allegheny Trail Alliance, there are approximately one million visits to the trail annually for recreational purposes. Trail users will pass directly through this scenic protected area that hosts forested slopes and marshes.
Beyond its scenic and recreational value, the property includes ecologically important habitat, such as floodplain forests and more than one mile of vegetated frontage along the Casselman River.
This section of the Casselman River valley hosts several rare plant species and the property is also located in the vicinity of known endangered and threatened bat species that forage and roost in forest and river edge habitats.
The property also protects water quality for the river, as the forests and wetlands are vital for filtering and storing water.
This property is open to the public for fishing, hiking and other forms of low-impact recreation.
The Family of B. Kenneth Simon provided the lead funding for the purchase of this property, with additional funding provided through the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation and public sources.
“The Great Allegheny Passage is one of the extraordinary outdoor recreation amenities in our region,” said Thomas D. Saunders, president and CEO of WPC. “It’s crucial to protect the beautiful forested and river views along it – the uninterrupted views of the Pennsylvania landscape, the expansive forest, the sense of some degree of wilderness – are all part of the experience of getting out on the GAP trail.”
The Conservancy has a long history of land protection in the Laurel Highlands, with more than 83,300 acres protected to date since 1951.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on Linkedin.

DCNR, Others Salute Central PA’s Standing Stone Trail As 2016 PA Trail Of The Year

Linking two state parks and threading through forestlands in three counties, Standing Stone Trail in central Pennsylvania today was honored by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and other state officials for attaining the statewide honor of 2016 Trail of the Year.
“Almost two dozen trails were nominated during the third year of this very special designation,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn told listeners gathered at Greenwood Furnace State Park in Huntingdon County. “All of these trails nominated stand as testament to the incredibly vast and varied walking and hiking opportunities we are so fortunate to find in Pennsylvania.
“Deservedly so, Standing Stone is singled out today for distinction in 2016 because of its quality, benefits to the region, tremendous dedicated volunteer network, and a multitude of strong partnerships.”
The trail designation is coordinated by the DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee to elevate public awareness of the thousands of miles of trails available for public enjoyment in Pennsylvania. In honor of the annual achievement, the committee and DCNR produce a yearly poster and distributes it statewide.
“Trace the path of this year’s trail of distinction and you are led to so much – two state parks, two state forests, two natural areas, a National Historical district, and four state game land tracts -- they’re all there and easily reachable on the Standing Stone Trail,” said Dunn, an avid hiker. “This trail is not unlike a necklace, linking so many natural jewels in this section of the state.”
Stretching 84 miles through Fulton, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties, the trail traverses central Pennsylvania ridges and valleys from Cowans Gap State Park in the south, to Rothrock State Forest’s Detweiler Natural Area and the Mid State Trail in the north. It links to Greenwood Furnace State Park.
“Our club membership is small, yet in the three decades since the trail’s inception, our diligent members have carved out nearly 84 miles of premier footpath,” said Standing Stone Trail Club President James Garthe. “I’ve been involved with numerous organizations over the years, yet I have never witnessed such a vibrant, energetic and fun-loving group of hikers and outdoors enthusiasts.”
Standing Stone Trail is part of the 1,600-mile Great Eastern Trail, which starts at Flagg Mountain, Ala., extends to the Finger Lakes Trail in New York.  More than 80 percent of the trail traverses state owned forest and Game Commission game lands.
There is one Adirondack-style shelter on the trail, which links to Greenwood Furnace State Park and passes through designated Trail Towns of Three Springs and Mapleton.
The Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee includes different types of trail users, builders and advocates, and people with disabilities.
The committee’s responsibilities are to advise DCNR on the use of trail funding in Pennsylvania; review and rank trail project applications; and present an annual report to the secretary on trail activities.
For more information about the designation, visit the 2016 Trail of the Year webpage.  
For hiking activities throughout Pennsylvania, visit the www.explorePAtrails.com website. Featured on the site are almost 500 trails covering more than 11,000 miles in Pennsylvania.

Game Commission June 15 Webinar On Role Of Prescribed Burns

On June 15 starting at noon, the Game Commission will host a webinar on the Role of Prescribed  Burns In Managing State Game Lands.
As a natural influence, fire has played a major role in forming Pennsylvania’s wildlife habitats.
A fire history study being undertaken by the Game Commission is revealing that fires burned frequently in our oak-pine forests long before European settlement.
With the exclusion of fire over the past century, habitats are changing and many plants and animals that depend on fire have disappeared.
Ben Jones, chief of the Game Commission’s Habitat Division, will discuss how prescribed fire is being used for habitat restoration, and the discovery of species hiding just under the surface awaiting fire’s return.
The session will include a short PowerPoint (15-20 minutes) followed by a short question and answer period (10-15 minutes).
If you don't have speakers on the device you'll be connecting with, you can dial in by phone. Those listening by phone may receive long-distance charges from your service provider.
Click Here to register for the webinar.
For more background on the use of prescribed burns, The Nature Conservancy- Pennsylvania has used the technique around the globe to manage land it owns.

Help Wanted: PA Resources Council Environmental Analyst-PA Recycling Hotline

The PA Resources Council is seeking candidates to fill an Environmental Analyst position in Pittsburgh whose major responsibility will be to staff the Pennsylvania Recycling Hotline.   Click Here for all the details and instructions on how to apply for the position.

Slippery Rock University Receives EPA Environmental Education Grant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday announced the completion of grant awards under the 2015 Environmental Education Grants Program.
Slippery Rock University received a $90,166 grant for a week-long “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” environmentally themed summer camp on a college campus.
The camp is designed to not only provide high school students with fun and educational outdoor experiences, but also to act as a community project incubator by preparing the students to develop and lead environmental education and stewardship projects when they return to their local communities.
Through this project, the students are gaining a better understanding of and enjoying the benefits of our natural environment.
The project is intended to increase student awareness of local environmental problems, and it will also increase their awareness of the environmental organizations working within their local communities to solve environmental problems.
Through a combination of formal leadership training and informal mentoring, the students become more knowledgeable about the scientific principles of ecological sustainability and enhancing their critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making skills.
Click Here for a list of EPA Environmental Education Grants awarded in Pennsylvania since 1992.

John Linkes Recognized With National River Hero Award By River Network

John Linkes, a resident of Leechburg, Armstrong County, accepted a River Hero Award from the River Network on May 23 at the River Rally Conference in Mobile, Alabama.
Linkes was one of five individuals from across the country who were selected for this award, which is presented by the River Network of Boulder, Colorado.  The purpose of the award is to recognize and celebrate people whose efforts to protect and restore their local waters have been extraordinary in scope, scale, impact, and heart.
(Photo: Chelsea Walker, Sue and John Linkes, and Melissa Reckner.)
Linkes was nominated for this award by Melissa Reckner, director of the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy’s Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, and Chelsea Walker, a board member of the Roaring Run and Kiskiminetas Watershed Associations, both of whom accompanied Linkes and his wife, Sue, to the event.  
Reckner said, “I’m so thrilled that John was chosen as an award recipient.  He is an extraordinary volunteer and a thoughtful man who is passionate about the environment.  He’s never sought the limelight and often does the jobs no one else wants.  Even while enjoying some time along the beautiful Gulf Coast, John was picking up litter from the beach.”
Linkes has served as a director on the board and as an active volunteer with the Roaring Run Watershed Association and Kiskiminetas Watershed Association since 2000 and 2001, respectively.  
He can often be found doing maintenance along the Roaring Run and Rock Furnace Trails or assisting with events.  
Linkes serves as the local coordinator of the larger Ohio River Sweep, an annual, award-winning cleanup that draws thousands of volunteers to the Ohio River and its tributaries to collect trash.  
Last year, 834 tires were removed from the Kiski River during this event, which is slated for June 18 this year.  
He is the Stream Team’s longest serving volunteer with 16 years as a Stream Steward, who collects water samples from Abandoned Mine Discharges (AMD), AMD treatment systems, and nearby streams.  
Linkes is an Associate Director with the Armstrong County Conservation District where he helps their AmeriCorps member download data loggers that are monitoring for historical and episodic pollution events, assists with the District’s Award Committee, and provides input for the District’s annual plan.  
Linkes aided in the establishment of the Crooked Creek Environmental Education Center and serves on the steering committee for this organization.  Here, Linkes leads environmental education programs for field trips and summer camps, helps secure presentations and program activities at the site, and assists with annual workdays to maintain the facility and its grounds.  
Every spring, he dons the Pennsylvania Resources Council’s Litterbug mascot costume and spreads the “Don’t Be a Litterbug” message to citizens, especially kids.  
His efforts make a difference.  The return of aquatic life is testament to his collaborative work and when Linkes’ five-year old granddaughter, Bianca, sees litter, she says, “Pappy’s not going to like this!”
Of the award, Linkes says, “Follow your bliss.  I started out doing simple litter cleanups and then started to do water monitoring and getting involved with other people and like-minded organizations and seeing what they do. Then the next thing that happened was that I was getting my picture in the newspaper and then, thereafter, I was getting quoted in the paper! Then I said to myself, ‘Ayyyye, there's the rub!’  Maybe I'm here doing this to raise awareness for the comeback of the Kiskiminetas and Conemaugh Rivers; to get the word out so to speak.”  
And that Linkes has, on a national level.
Past River Heroes Award winners from Pennsylvania include: John Klunk (2004), founder of the Codorus Monitoring Network in York County and David Hess (2002), former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Brodhead Watershed: June 25 Blakeslee Natural Area Hike; June 26 Learn To Fly-Fish

The Brodhead Watershed Association is sponsoring a free Get Outdoors Poconos hike June 25 Blakeslee Natural Area in Monroe County and a June 26 Learn To Fly-Fish the Brodhead Creek events.
Blakeslee Hike
Carol Hillestad will lead a moderate hike of about 2.5 millions on June 25 in the Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area, a 130-acre preserve.
Just off Route 115 and close to Blakeslee, Pa., and Route 80, it is an easy-to-reach haven for walking, fishing, picnicking, photography, and peaceful contemplation.
Three blazed trails make for lots of hiking options. There’s a quick half-mile loop – Pine Trail – blazed in orange.
Highland Trail, blazed in blue, is almost a mile long and loops through mixed hardwood and pine forest above the creek. The red-blazed Creek Trail is a 2.3-mile, out-and-back walk along the creek.
Then there is the highlight everyone aims for: the falls. Wide, flat bedrock above the falls has been worn smooth by decades of sightseers and fishermen.
With good balance and a walking stick, you can make your way down to the deep pools below the falls and along the very edge of the creek. Or take the easier high route to an overlook above, in a clearing furnished with picnic tables and benches.
The walking would be mucky, but volunteers have placed bridges and simple stepping-stone crossings made of tree-trunk slices and smooth rocks – anything to welcome people to this outdoor wonder.
The hike series is administered by Brodhead Watershed Association and supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
Information: Call 570-839-1120 or 570-629-2727 or send email to: info@brodheadwatershed.org.   
Learn To Fly-Fish
Fly-fishing experts from three Pocono organizations will share their knowledge with beginners during a hands-on workshop on June 26. The session will run 1 to 4 p.m. at ForEvergreen Nature Preserve, Analomink.
Brodhead Watershed Association, Pocono Heritage Land Trust and the Brodhead chapter of Trout Unlimited are dedicated to enjoying and protecting Brodhead Creek – historically a world-class trout fishery – and wish to welcome newcomers to the sport.
Participants will receive an easy, entertaining introduction into equipment selection, casting techniques, trout stream entomology and basic fly-tying.
Suggested donation is $10 for BWA, PHLT or TU members, $15 for nonmembers. Children under 12 attend free.
Reserve your spot by calling 570-424-1514 or send email to: info@phlt.org.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Brodhead Watershed Association website.

Weis Markets Surpasses 2020 Goal of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Weis Markets recently announced it has surpassed its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.
The company achieved this milestone five years earlier than anticipated, reaching a 22.1 percent reduction in GHG emissions in 2015.
“We are very encouraged by the steady, measurable progress we are making and are excited to share this great achievement of our ever growing sustainability program,” said Weis Markets President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Weis. “Hitting this important milestone five years ahead of schedule gives us the opportunity to continue to explore new initiatives and technologies that will further reduce our impact on the environment and streamline efficiencies in our operations.”
Such efficiencies include the installation of LED lighting, various energy reducing equipment and efforts made to minimize refrigerant leaks.
Weis Markets also plans to increase its recycling rate by five percent each year with a goal of zero waste, reduce energy usage by two percent each year, and replace 50 percent of its tractor fleet with cleaner fuel vehicles within the next several years.
“We are certainly moving in the right direction. From our local roots and longstanding relationships with local farmers to our comprehensive recycling programs that in 2015 alone diverted more than 33,000 tons of waste from landfills, we remain steadfast in our commitment to both the environment and the communities we serve,” said Weis.
(Photo: Weis Markets, Union Deposit Road Store in Harrisburg hosts a Tesla electric vehicle recharging station.)
To read more about sustainability efforts at Weis Markets, read its 2015 Sustainability Report and visit the Weis Markets Sustainability Programs webpage.

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