Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ed Wytovich Receives 2017 Mayfly Award From PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference

Ed Wytovich received one of two 2017 Mayfly awards at the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference in June to recognize his lifetime contributions to developing local and start partnerships for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands, treatment of mine drainage and watershed restoration.
The other Mayfly Award winner was Tom Grote who helped found the Loyalhanna Watershed Association in Westmoreland County.
The mayfly was selected as the symbol for this award because its presence in a stream signifies clean water. Each Mayfly Award is a unique piece of art.  This year’s artist was Michael Bestwick from Fenelton, Butler County.
Ed Wytovich
A retired eighth grade science teacher, Ed is President of the Catawissa Creek Watershed Restoration Association in Schuylkill and Luzerne counties and helped found 9 other watershed associations dedicated to treating abandoned mine drainage.
He has also served as the volunteer president of the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
In 1998, his 100 mile “Riverwalk” along the state’s Schuylkill River raised funds for the Schuylkill Headwaters Association and generated awareness of the need to clean the River. He also helped start the Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn, a one-week canoe trip down the Schuylkill, to draw attention to habitat preservation.
In 2001, he convinced state lawmakers to designate May as Statewide Watershed Awareness Month, which lead to annual cleanups at sites throughout Pennsylvania.
He has also testified before Congress on the need for continuing the federal mine reclamation fee to support local and state watershed restoration efforts and is heavily involved in the current campaign to fully fund a Growing Greener III initiative to support local mine reclamation and watershed restoration projects.
“Ed instills within others the need to serve as stewards of the environment and community within which they live,” said Dave Zanis, a longtime friend.
Former U.S. Congressman Tim Holden wrote that Wytovich demonstrates “how optimism can build partnerships with government, the private sector, and community volunteers to achieve success in conserving and restoring our environment.”
Ed has received many other honors, including-- the 2001 Governor’s Award For Watershed Stewardship, the 2006 Chevron Conservation Award and the Conservation Award from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
Although Ed could not attend the Conference to accept the Award, Robert Hughes, Executive Director of EPCAMR read these remarks on his behalf--
“From the bottom of my heart I am truly surprised and grateful to the committee for selecting me for the Mayfly Award. As I looked over the previous recipients and their accomplishments I am in awe.
“And they all keep plugging away to help our restoration efforts.
“My first project was the reclamation of about 40 acres of disturbed wetland that had been covered with alluvial coal waste up to 12’ deep. My father-in-law was the owner/contractor and asked me to help because my background is in horticulture.
“My wife and I now own this area that we affectionately call “The Swamp” which we do not post so that the public can enjoy it for hiking , bird watching, hunting, and other outdoor fun.
“By the way, this was pre SMCRA [1977  federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act]. Gives you an idea how old I am!
“I bring up The Swamp not because it is ours but because it is for everyone to enjoy and that is what, I think, drives us all and keeps us going.
“Knowing that many of my peers are also getting along in years it is up to us to generate more interest in our youth so that we can pass it along.
“In order to do this we can take kids on field trips arranged through schools, scouting, and other youth groups. Show them not only completed projects but the sources of AMD which many kids have never seen.
“Give them the opportunity to get wet and dirty, take some samples and do some streamside chemistry. Catch some benthic macros, shovel some stone into a system.
“Give them interest and ownership through their work and show them the positive results of a project well done.
“Continue to support the efforts of the Coalitions to reauthorize SMCRA, my Santa hat is off to John Dawes [Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds] and the others who go to Washington to support these efforts.
“Watch for new trends and ideas and research them well. One thing that piques my interest is pumped storage generation.
“The last that I looked there were 17 applications for permits to explore the feasibility of pumped storage in Pennsylvania. I don’t know if this is good or bad, there is much to learn.
“What if we used restored abandoned mine land for large solar arrays and stored the energy using pumped storage or generate hydrogen to store and then use at high demand periods in fuel cells or combined cycle turbine systems or something else?
“This could fit near our co-gen plants and maybe give them new life.
“A special thanks has to go out to Dave Hess [former Secretary of DEP] for without Dave I don’t think we could have been as successful as we are and will continue to be.
“Dave not only helped get the watershed movement going strong but also helped us, the volunteers, work along with the professionals, both private and government.  
“These partnerships continue today.
“There are many others which time does not permit me to talk about, Margaret Dunn at Stream Restoration, Inc., the staffs of the coalitions [Eastern and Western PA  Coalitions for Abandoned Mine Reclamation], our conservation districts which have been outstanding, all of the watershed groups, PA Council Of Trout Unlimited, and many others including all of our volunteers.
“Lastly I must thank my wife and kids who have been so supportive and patient with me and many evening meetings.
“Stay involved and stay aware of what goes on around us. Remember, whatever we do to the land we do to the water. Have a great conference.”
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