Friday, April 9, 2021

In Memoriam: Dr. Edward Bellis, Penn State Professor, Conservationist

Dr. Edward D. Bellis, of State College, passed away on April 5.  His long list of accomplishments includes heading a task force examining the impact of sedimentation from dirt and gravel roads to Pennsylvania streams leading to the creation of the state’s landmark Dirt and Gravel Roads Program, establishing the Coldwater Heritage Partnership and the Keystone Coldwater Conference.

In 2002, Dr. Bellis was named the recipient of the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award for 2002. The honor is the highest recognition the Fish and Boat Commission can confer on persons who distinguish themselves in the cause of conservation.

Here is the Commission’s description of his accomplishments.

Dr. Bellis is a Pennsylvania native who was born in Ridley Park (Delaware County) in 1927. He grew up in Gratz (Dauphin County) and graduated from Millersburg High School. 

Upon graduation in 1945, he served in the US Army’s 88th Infantry Division in northern Italy during World War II. Following his time in the service, Bellis pursued his education. 

After receiving a Bachelors of Science in Zoology and Entomology from Penn State, he went on to earn his Master in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma and his Doctorate from the University of Minnesota. 

Following a brief stint as an investigator for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Bellis joined Penn State University’s Biology Department from 1958. He taught a variety of ecological topics at PSU for the next 31 years, until his retirement in 1989.

He was one of the original members of the Dirt and Gravel Roads Task Force (1992) that highlighted the risks runoff associated with these paths. 

The work he and others performed in raising awareness of the issue developed into the award-winning Dirt and Gravel Road Center at Penn State. 

He successfully lobbied for legislation that amended the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code to provide a funding source for maintaining and improving dirt and gravel roads to reduce erosion.

Bellis also helped found the Keystone Coldwater Conference, a semi-annual forum to deal with issues related to protection and conservation of the state’s coldwater streams. 

As a long-time leader within Trout Unlimited, Bellis worked on the formation of the Coldwater Heritage Partnership, a joint program of the PFBC, PA  Trout Unlimited and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

As a participant on the Governor’s 21st Century Environmental Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Regulatory Negotiating Commission and the DEP Water Resources Advisory Committee, Bellis continued his life’s work to protect Pennsylvania’s waters.

“Through his notable professional career and his proactive approach to aquatic resource protection, Dr. Bellis embodies the spirit of the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award. Generations of Pennsylvanians have benefited from the contributions by previous Abele Award winners and Dr. Bellis’s many accomplishments deserve to be recognized among them,” said PFBC Executive Director Peter A. Colangelo. “We at the Fish and Boat Commission are not alone in that thought; we received a total of 24 nominations touting Dr. Bellis for the 2002 award. He is a true Pennsylvania conservation hero.” 

Click Here to read his full obituary.

[Posted: April 9, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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