Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Gov. Wolf Recognizes DEP’s Jill Whitcomb, Heidi Kunka For Their Efforts To Restore Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Combat Climate Change

On May 4, Gov. Tom Wolf awarded the Governor’s Award of Excellence to two employees of the Department of Environmental Protection--
Jill Whitcomb, director of the Chesapeake Bay Office, and Heidi Kunka, Energy Program specialist, for their successful efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and implement local climate action plans.

“These awards are recognition of the tremendous work that both Jill and Heidi have made not just to DEP but to Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “Both of them have shown the importance of collaboration with local governments to achieve results that are going to make Pennsylvania a better place.”

“Both Jill and Heidi are tackling some of the biggest issues to face the Department of Environmental Protection, and are bringing new ideas to address them,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “I am proud to call them my colleagues and am very pleased that their work is being recognized.”

Jill Whitcomb

Jill Whitcomb has been instrumental in executing the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, Phase III, to improve water quality in Pennsylvania streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. 

This effort has involved forging a collaborative effort among state agencies, county conservation districts, municipal governments, farmers, and many others to cut down on water pollution. 

These community-based efforts are showing results, with widespread cooperation to identify ways to cut down pollution through best management practices.

PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

For more information on Pennsylvania’s plan, visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Office webpage.

How Clean Is Your Stream?

DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer  allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.

Heidi Kunka

Heidi Kunka’s work on local climate action plans is bringing new ideas to municipal governments. These ideas are helping municipal governments identify and make plans to address their climate impacts. 

In 2020, the first year of the program, Heidi worked with college students and 20 local governments to inventory greenhouse gas emissions, identify climate vulnerabilities, and develop their own local climate action plans. 

The effort was so successful that the program will have 21 more local governments, many of which include environmental justice communities.

Visit DEP’s Local Climate Action Program webpage to learn more.

The annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize exemplary Commonwealth employees or groups of employees for initiative, leadership, innovation, and increased efficiency. 

This prestigious award program encourages excellence, provides inspiring role models for emulation, and rewards remarkable accomplishments.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence were first created by Gov. Mark Schweiker in 2002 to recognize DEP and Commonwealth employees involved in the Quecreek Mine Rescue in Somerset County.

(Photos: Jill Whitcomb and Heidi Kunka.)

[Posted: May 4, 2021] PA Environment Digest

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