Tuesday, January 30, 2024

In Celebration Of The Many Contributions Of John Dawes To Protecting And Restoring PA’s Environment, Foundations Create The R. John Dawes Clean Water Fund

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is pleased to announce the R. John Dawes Clean Water Fund, celebrating the significant contributions John Dawes has made to building a strong, thriving, and effective organization to protect Pennsylvania’s waterways. 

“The FPW’s board of directors is incredibly grateful for John’s stellar leadership and commitment to improving the waterways of Pennsylvania and are pleased to honor his recent retirement through creation of this fund. His legacy will be alive in a permanent way through the R. John Dawes Clean Water Fund to benefit the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds,” said CFA President Mike Kane.

FPW is a grantmaking foundation that invests in local efforts to protect healthy streams, clean up pollution, and restore degraded wildlife habitat. 

Dawes served as the inaugural Executive Director, dedicating more than 30 years to building the FPW into a well-organized, strategic philanthropy. 

In November 2023, conservation and environmental protection leader Deborah Nardone was appointed as the Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. 

In testimony to Congress in 2022, Dawes said, "Since our inception in 1994, we have invested in more than 1,500 [now 1,600] projects and provided $14 million [now nearly $16 million] in grants that have leveraged $190 million in total project costs. Our mission is to leverage local, state, and federal funds to protect the best of the best and restore the worst of the worst water problems.” 

FPW has provided grants to more than 175 environmental organizations across Pennsylvania.    

Dawes has been the recipient of the PA Environmental Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition by colleagues and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agency secretaries for service to improve Pennsylvania’s environment. 

Additionally, he received the ECHO award (Environment, Community, Humanity, and Ownership) given by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Statewide Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference bestowed the first ever “Mayfly Award” on John for his work in reauthorizing the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program. 

He was also recognized with the PA Land Trust Association [WeConservePA] Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award, the PA Association of Environmental Professional’s Karl Mason Award, the PA State Conservation Commission Conservation Leadership Excellence Award, and his Huntingdon Farm was honored as a regional winner of the NRCS Environmental Stewardship Award.

Among Dawes’ key accomplishments--

-- Was appointed as a mediator by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to work with the environmental community and industry to establish better regulations for water quality monitoring in areas impacted by coal ash. 

-- Worked with the Environmental Integrity Project to clean up Brunner Island in the Susquehanna River.

-- Advocated for many key regulatory and legislative initiatives to protect Pennsylvania’s waterways, including the reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund in 2006.

Dawes says, “All of this work taught me that a group of citizens can change national public policy for the benefit of all.” He will continue in a consultancy role to the FPW over the next year. 

“After investing more than 30 years of time and grant dollars throughout the state of Pennsylvania, I am excited to turn over the leadership of FPW to such a qualified conservationist as Deb Nardone. This has been a wonderful position to hold, and it’s been an honor to work with committed colleagues who have enabled us to be creative and opportunistic, all the while improving ecosystem function on degraded site-specific projects,” said Dawes.

Nardone, a passionate advocate for Pennsylvania’s natural resources, brings 30 years of experience in shaping mission-focused programs and partnerships that succeed at the local, state, and national levels. 

Nardone will play a crucial role as FPW increases its capacity to meet the needs of communities working to protect Pennsylvania’s environment and health. 

For the past eight years, she served as executive director of Clearwater Conservancy, where she helped permanently conserve nearly 3,500 acres of central Pennsylvania habitat and grew the organization’s endowment by 500%. 

She has also held positions at Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and holds a master’s degree in environmental pollution control.

FPW provides matching grant funds to both small and large groups and organizations throughout much of the Commonwealth and is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. 

Through FPW’s grantmaking, assistance is provided to conservation organizations to achieve their restoration goals, while ensuring enough clean water for future generations of Pennsylvania children, families, and wildlife. 

Donations to the R. John Dawes fund can be made by check, mailed to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, 216 Franklin Street, Suite 400, Johnstown, PA 15901, or contributed online.


Former DEP Secretary David Hess had this on the contributions of John Dawes-- 

“John’s leadership has been critical to so many watershed restoration programs in Pennsylvania, it’s hard to think of one where he didn’t play a leading role.

“Reauthorization of the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program up to and including the most recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would not have been possible without John’s leadership and his early work with Louise Dunlap.

“These initiatives alone have brought billions of dollars to Pennsylvania to reclaim our mining past.

“The Growing Greener Watershed Restoration Program and each version after the original benefitted from his critical support to get them passed and later providing matching funds to watershed groups to implement projects.

“Again, because of John's hard work, over a billion state dollars have supported watershed restoration projects.

“John’s amazing legacy to us is hundreds of miles of clean streams where we can fish, boat and swim.  We all owe him our thanks for these wonderful achievements.”

(Photo: Martha Rial Photography)

Related Articles:

-- Western PA Environmental Lifetime Achievement Awards: John Dawes, John Schombert  [PaEN]

-- John Dawes Receives PA Land Trust Assn. Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award [PaEN]

-- Statewide Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Recognizes John Dawes With First Mayfly Award  [PaEN]

-- John Dawes Recognized With Federal Office Of Surface Mining ECHO Award [PaEN]

-- John Dawes, Wild Resource Program Receive PAEP 2006 Karl Mason Awards [PaEN]

-- Rep. Stern, John Dawes Receive Susquehanna Watershed Protection Awards [PaEN]

-- Dawes’ Huntingdon Farm Named Regional Environmental Stewardship Winner [PaEN]

[Posted: January 30, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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