Thursday, March 21, 2019

Award-Winning Master Watershed Steward Projects Across Pennsylvania

The Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program partnered with the PA Environmental Council to host the Statewide Watershed Conference in February.
At the conference, the Master Watershed Steward Program presented its first Search for Excellence Awards to acknowledge outstanding projects across the state in four categories: Youth Programs, Restoration Projects, Innovative Projects and Monitoring and Research projects.
The Lehigh and Northampton County program won the Youth Program award for their Junior Master Watershed Steward program. This project was led by Master Watershed Steward Charlie Kopcho.
This pilot program was completed in partnership with the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley, the Northampton County 4-H program and the Northampton County Conservation District.
Charlie and the partners worked with 46 youth at Saucon Valley High School. Students were taught about the physical, biological, and chemical properties of water and water’s importance in local ecology.
Students planted a streamside pollinator garden as a buffer and will continue to monitor the parameters of Polk Valley Run on the school’s property.
The York County program won the Restoration Project award for their work on a bioswale in Windsor Township.
Carol McDonald, Diane Oleson, Scott Runkle, and Mark Spangenberg worked with Windsor Township to convert an existing drainage swale into a bioswale in Freysville Park.
The turf grass was removed and replaced with rocks to decrease erosion at the inlet pipe. They installed three check dams to slow the movement of water, and planted approximately 2,000 native grasses and perennials plugs to improve water quality. The bioswale is about 2,500 square feet.
The Stewards plan to monitor the site and incorporate educational signage.
The Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming county program won the Innovative Project award for the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails Remote Dog Fountain.
Master Watershed Steward Gary Leander worked with the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, students from a local Job Corps Center, and employees from American Eagle to install a drinking water site for dogs along an isolated section of the Greater Hazleton Rail trail.
They did this by building a pavilion, capturing, and filtering rain into a rain barrel. This project serves as a demonstration for rain barrels and by utilizing a first flush system and gravity filters, the system filters out bacteria and protozoa.
The Bucks County program won the Monitoring/Research award for their stream bank erosion monitoring program.
Ed Hawkley, Susan Hothman, Phyllis McCabe, Scott Sinclair, Jim Walter partnered with the Bucks County Conservation District to monitor stream bank erosion along 18 monitoring sites on three streams: Poquessing Creek, Neshaminy Creek and Cooks Creek.
Prior to this study, no data was available on the rate of erosion of stream banks in Bucks county. This data, collected by recording measurements on re-bar hammered into the banks, will help municipalities target areas that require mitigation.
The Master Watershed Steward Program also recognized Carol Armstrong, the first Master Watershed Steward in the state to reach 1,000 hours of volunteer service.
Carol participates in the Delaware/Chester County program and spends her volunteer time installing rain gardens and native habitats, monitoring three EnviroDIY sites with Stroud Water Research Center and their partners, supporting development of a stream monitoring training program, providing various outreach to the public through presentations and festivals, and much more.
Congratulations to all of these worthy awardees for their contributions to watershed education across the state!!
For more information on watershed stewards, visit the Penn State Extension Master Watershed Steward Program webpage.
(Reprinted from the March 21 Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletter.)
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