Friday, June 30, 2023

Western PA Conservancy Watershed Conservation Program Receives U.S. Forest Service Award For Decades-Long Work To Improve Water Quality In The Allegheny National Forest

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s
Watershed Conservation Program was awarded the U.S. Forest Service’s Partnership Award for the Conservancy’s long standing watershed work in the Allegheny National Forest and the Allegheny Watershed Improvement Needs (WINs) Coalition

The award was presented at the 2022 National Rise to the Future Award ceremony on June 15 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Whitten Building in Washington, D.C.

WPC’s Luke Bobnar, Kylie Maland, Eric Chapman accepted the  award for their work in ANF from USFS Deputy Chief Chris French and USFS Undersecretary Dr Homer Wilkes.

The ANF staff nominated the Conservancy for the award, noting that WPC has been one of ANF’s strongest watershed restoration allies for nearly 20 years and is a shining example of the power of partnership and collaboration.

“The Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation Program recognizes the value of the high-quality forests and streams in the ANF, as well as the opportunity to improve aquatic and watershed conditions. It is an honor to recognize their hard work and share the deepest gratitude for their partnership,” adds ANF Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson.

The Conservancy’s watershed work in the ANF is extensive and comprehensive.

It includes the installation of in-stream restoration projects to mitigate flood risks, slow erosion and improve floodplain connectivity. The Conservancy has also planted riparian trees, conducted aquatic surveys, and removed dams and replaced culverts in the forest to improve aquatic diversity and health, and water quality.

Also, through large woody material restoration, the Conservancy has an integral role in improving watersheds and aquatic communities in the forest. 

Woody material reintroduction helps mitigate flood risk downstream, ensure cool water during summer low flows and improve connections between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. 

Since 2013, the Conservancy and ANF have partnered to explore the benefits of this restoration technique to aquatic habitat enhancement in the national forest. 

To date, they have led the implementation of these methods on more than 30 miles of streams, which has also improved more than 60 acres of floodplains.

Jenifer Christman, vice president of the Conservancy’s watershed work, says her team tirelessly works with partners and landowners to implement various watershed restoration protects to improve important forest ecosystems and watersheds, such as ANF.

WPC staff conduct electrofishing on Bloomster Hollow in ANF.

“I’m so happy for my team to be recognized by such a great partner as the Allegheny National Forest,” Jenifer adds. “It truly is a collaborative working relationship where both parties bring resources and knowledge to bear that positively impacts this entire region. It is a landscape-level partnership that involves more entities than we could ever acknowledge.”

The Allegheny National Forest is located in Forest, Elk, McKean and Warren counties.

Click Here to see more photos accompanying this article.

Since 2001, the Conservancy’s Watershed Conservation Program has provided technical assistance to local landowners, watershed groups and the community on water quality issues. 

With the help of landowners and partners, the Conservancy has restored 3,000 miles of rivers and streams and planted more than 72,000 riparian trees to improve degraded aquatic and riparian habitats, including on farms and other privately-owned lands.

The Conservancy’s longstanding interests in ANF date back to the 1970s. More than 13,000 acres of land along the Clarion and Allegheny rivers have been protected and transferred to NFS to expand ANF.

More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on LinkedinClick Here to support their work.

The Conservancy has helped to establish 11 state parks, conserved more than 250,000 acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, maintains 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of more than 11,000 volunteers and the support of more than 9,000 members.

(Photo: Chris French, Deputy Chief National Forest System; Luke Bobnar WPC Watershed Program manager; Kylie Maland WPC Conservancy Watershed manager; Eric Chapman WPC senior director of Aquatic Sciences; and Dr. Homer Wilkes, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment.)


-- Bradford Era: Western PA Conservancy Honored For Work On Allegheny National Forest

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[Posted: June 30, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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