Scrapbook Photo 04/15/24 - 66 New Stories - REAL Environmental & Conservation Leadership In PA:
Ralph W. Abele Historic Marker Dedicated

On Tuesday a Pennsylvania historic marker was unveiled honoring former Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Ralph W. Abele (1921-1990) in a dedication ceremony at PFBC headquarters in Harrisburg.

Watch the remarks of these speakers at this special event--

-- John Arway, Executive Director, Fish & Boat Commission

-- Franklin Kury, former Senator and Representative

-- Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation President & CEO

-- Dennis Guise, Ralph W. Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund

-- Frederick Powell, PA Historical & Museum Commission

-- Cindy Dunn, DCNR, reading a letter from Susan Q. Stranahan, former Philadelphia Inquirer environment reporter and author of Susquehanna River of Dreams

-- Ralph Abele Jr, on behalf of the family

-- Unveiling the Historic Marker and marker text

Throughout his life, Abele inspired and commanded the fight to save the natural environment. He believed strongly in the Environmental Rights Amendment to the state constitution which says it is the right of everyone to "clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment."

As PFBC executive director from January 1972 through May 1987, Abele’s accomplishments garnered him the title of “Lord of the Fish” for his tireless and relentless efforts in protecting water quality against pollution and working to restore American shad to their native Susquehanna River.

Abele’s voice and action, as a leader during the beginnings of ecology awareness, called industry to task and empowered individuals with an understanding that they, too, had the power to affect change and protect our natural environment.

While the Commission’s direct constituents have been mostly anglers and boaters, it was clear that Abele’s commentary on the nation’s obligation to protect natural resources struck a chord with the greater, general public.

Following his death in 1990, two important legacies for conservation were established in his name: the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award and the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund.

The award has been presented to such notables in conservation as Dr. Maurice K. Goddard, and the scholarship fund has provided a seed of continued growth for many students with the same aspiration in the field of conservation.

The historic marker reads: Ralph W. Abele (1921-1990) Conservation leader and Pennsylvania Fish commission executive director, 1972-87. Abele's "Resource First" philosophy strengthened the agency's mission to protect, conserve and enhance water quality, improve fish passage and increase youth conservation education.  Notable achievements included modernizing the Fish and boat Code, emphasizing conservation enforcement and leading efforts to restore American shad to the Susquehanna River.


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