PEC Western Pennsylvania Award Winners, Caren Glotfelty Lifetime Achievement Award

Three environmental protection and conservation programs from throughout Western Pennsylvania will share $15,000 from Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council for innovation and effectiveness in making a positive impact on the Western Pennsylvania environment.

The programs are this year’s winners of the 2014 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards, presented annually to local organizations that demonstrate leadership, effectiveness and results in making an impact on the environment.

The winners are:

-- ClearWater Conservancy – State College (Centre County)

-- Paddle Without Pollution – Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)

-- Three Rivers Rain Garden Alliance – Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)

All three were chosen by a group of independent judges of environmental experts and PEC staff in response to a call for entries earlier this year.

With these awards, each winner will designate a $5,000 cash prize to be used in support of a nonprofit environmental program of their choice.

Lifetime Achievement Award

In addition, PEC will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Caren Glotfelty, formerly the director of environment programs at the Heinz Endowments.  Earlier in her career, Glotfelty was the first deputy secretary for water management in the Department of Environmental Resources. Subsequently she held the Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resources at The Pennsylvania State University.

Here’s more on each award winner--

-- ClearWater Conservancy: ClearWater Conservancy developed a Riparian Conservation Program to restore functioning “streambank buffer zones” in the Spring Creek watershed that have been impacted by agriculture. ClearWater staff members meet with landowners to explain what streambank restoration involves and how it protects water quality. A mix of shrubs and trees are planted to create a “vegetated buffer zone” that protects the stream from pollution, siltation, and overheating.

A ClearWater steward is assigned to each property and gives the restoration project individualized attention. To date the Riparian Conservation Program has protected 4,600 acres of high-value riparian habitat. More than 300 ClearWater staff, site stewards and volunteers have installed riparian buffers along more than 69,890 feet of stream.  They’ve also installed 35,988 feet of streambank fencing and 16 stream crossings for livestock, removed three dams, installed 168 streambank stabilization and fish habitat enhancement structures, and treated countless acres of invasive species.

-- Paddle Without Pollution: Paddle Without Pollution’s (PWP) watershed stewardship events are addressing the large amount of litter, illegally dumped debris, and hazardous materials in our area’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. They are also increasing public awareness of the effects of that pollution and have involved the community in direct action, low impact events that enable volunteers to make a positive difference through hands-on stewardship.

They use non-motorized boats exclusively and can operate with very little or no impact to the environment, using volunteers to get into ecologically sensitive, shallow and inaccessible areas that many boats or land-based cleanup crews cannot safely reach.

In 2013, PWP held 11 watershed stewardship events where approximately 300 Paddle Without Pollution volunteers removed more than 16 tons of litter and illegally dumped debris from the Allegheny, Monongahela, Kiski, and Ohio Rivers as well as Chartiers, Slippery Rock, and Ten Mile Creeks.

-- Three Rivers Rain Garden Alliance: As little as one-tenth of an inch of rain can cause raw sewage to overflow into Pittsburgh’s rivers and streams. An effective strategy for addressing the problem of stormwater runoff is the installation of rain gardens. So in 2007, a group of nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government agencies formed the Three Rivers Rain Garden Alliance to raise awareness of the wet weather issue in our region and reduce runoff through the use of rain gardens.

An innovative website was created that explains the region’s wet weather problems and provided details on how to install a rain garden. The website is connected to 32 digital rain gauges located throughout Allegheny County.

Thus far, 96 rain gardens in seven Western Pennsylvania counties have been registered with the site and have retained more than 3,000,000 gallons of stormwater.

The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards program is open to individuals and organizations that demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership and accomplishment, and made significant contributions toward improving Western Pennsylvania’s environment.

Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council sponsor the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards each year to encourage the community to emulate the achievements of the winning entries, thereby promoting innovative environmental efforts and enhancing the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania.

The winners will be honored at the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony on May 28 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh.


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