Dominion, PEC Announce Western PA Environmental Award Winners

Four environmental programs and one individual will share $25,000 from Dominion and the PA Environmental Council for innovation and effectiveness in making a positive impact on the Western Pennsylvania environment.

The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards are presented annually to local organizations that demonstrate leadership, effectiveness, and results in making an impact on the environment.

All five were chosen by a group of independent judges, 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.

The winners will be honored at the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony on May 26 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel downtown Pittsburgh.

The 2016 winners are—

-- Connoquenessing Watershed Alliance Butler: The Connoquenessing Watershed Alliance replanted a riparian buffer along seven miles of sewer line crossings following the completion of a major habitat improvement project in Thorn Creek.

At each stream crossing, 30 native tree and shrub seedlings were planted on both sides of the stream bank, with a total of over 1,500 seedlings planted. Four in-stream devices were constructed to create an immediate fish habitat.

More than 30 in-stream habitat devices have been installed which have stabilized over 5,000 feet of stream bank and leveraged over $300,000 in watershed improvements through grants, donations, and partnerships.

This project has brought together many state and local partners, including government agencies, local municipalities, international corporations, concerned community members, local businesses, and a school district. Thus far, close to 20 different groups or individuals have been active participants in the project.

Contact: David Andrews, 724-360-0290 or send email to:

-- Crawford County Riparian Restoration Program, Meadville: The Crawford County Riparian Restoration Program addressed the environmental need to establish  forested riparian plantings along 30 different streams that have been identified as impaired waterways, including nearly 20 miles of streams in the Ohio and the Lake Erie/Great Lakes river basins.

Over the past 16 years, it is estimated that over 75,000 trees and shrubs have been planted with the help of 4,500 students from 12 local middle and high schools completing more than 100 different conservation projects.

Every high school in Crawford County has been involved in this project as well as over 550 private citizens and members of local organizations. One student participant became the Erosion and Sedimentation Specialist in the local county conservation district and another is now a local forester.

All told, more than 110 acres of streamside buffers have been enhanced through this program, impacting the plants, animals, and citizens within the Ohio and Lake Erie watersheds and beyond.

Contact: Mark Lewis, Service Forester, DCNR Bureau of Forestry, 814-763-2545 or send email to:

-- Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh 2030 District, Pittsburgh: In Pittsburgh, 47 percent of greenhouse gas emissions originate from commercial buildings and 30 percent of the energy used by the average commercial building is wasted.

The Pittsburgh 2030 District aims to create a stronger downtown by helping property owners to work collaboratively together and with a set of stated common goals to improve indoor air quality, reduce resources used, increase asset value, and create solid returns on investment.

In just three years, Pittsburgh has become the largest 2030 District in the world to date, consisting of 436 buildings with over 65.5 million square feet of real estate in Downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland–all actively working towards 50 percent reductions in energy consumption, water use, and transportation emissions by the year 2030.

Through 2015, 380 properties saved the equivalent energy use of 5,562 homes. Additionally, 96 downtown buildings achieved a ten percent reduction in water use, representing 362 homes’ annual water usage.

Contact: Anna Siefken, Green Building Alliance, 412-773-6013 or send email to:

-- Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Oakdale: The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is transforming 460 acres of abandoned mining land just ten miles west of the city into a world-class botanic garden. Once completed, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will be one of the largest botanic gardens in America.

It will be comprised of 18 distinct gardens, five diverse woodland experiences, a visitor’s center, a celebration center, and a center for botanic research. What’s more, it is a world class example of coal mine restoration and remediation and will be the only botanic garden in the United States built on reclaimed land.

The Garden’s passive acid mine discharge treatment system removes 912 pounds of pollutants per year as it treats 4.2 million gallons each year. The pH of this treated water has improved from 3 to 7. Additionally, there are now 111 different species of birds that can be observed at the Garden as a result of the remediation and restoration work.

Contact: Christine Koebley, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, 412-444-4464 x224 or send email to:

-- Edward Schroth, Leetsdale: For more than 50 years, Ed Schroth has been one of the most popular and influential environmental educators in Western Pennsylvania.

He has dedicated his life to environmental education and outreach, first as a teacher of biology, water ecology and environmental science at Quaker Valley High School, and later at Duquesne University.

At Quaker Valley, he started the “Up the Creek Gang,” a project where students studied the ecology of Little Sewickley Creek and its watershed. He later teamed with the China Association for Science and Technology to take high school students to Beijing and Qingdao China for environmental studies three times.

Through Ed’s passion for environmental education and his unique teaching style, students get firsthand experience at data collection and measurements. As a leader in service learning, he has set the standard for student-community engagement with such organizations as the Allegheny Land Trust, the Little Sewickley Creek Watershed, and others.

Contact: John Stolz, Ph.D., Center for Environmental Research and Education

Duquesne University, 412-396-4367 or send email to:

The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards program is open to individuals, businesses, 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 PA 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 26 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel downtown Pittsburgh.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on FacebookClick Here to receive regular updates from PEC.


    Go To Next Article

Return to This PA Environment Digest's Main Page