DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanians: Chris Strohler, Wildlands Conservancy
Chris Strohler is the Senior Conservation Planner with the [Lehigh Valley-based] Wildlands Conservancy. Chris’s enthusiasm for clean, healthy rivers has inspired him to be a leader in river conservation work.
His first experience in conservation was volunteering at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. His background in mapping and spatial analysis allowed him to help staff with the Pennsylvania Farmland Raptor Project and other small mapping projects.
At the Wildlands Conservancy, he assists with the acquisition and protection of high-value conservation lands, open space, and areas for public access and recreation.
Having grown up in the area, Chris has always been aware of the conservancy’s environmental education efforts and programming. However, it wasn’t until he looked further into its watershed planning and conservation work, that Chris understood the true impact the Wildlands Conservancy has had on the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh River Watershed.
“As someone who grew up enjoying the outdoor spaces and quality environment we are fortunate to have here in the Lehigh Valley, I quickly developed a passion for preserving these spaces for future generations, including my own family,” he says.
Through decades of conservation work, the Lehigh River has been brought back to life through land preservation, habitat improvement, and large-scale waterway restoration.
“The return of this river corridor has sparked a new draw for people and economic development,” Chris explains. “Attracting outdoor recreation activities, enhancing the local sense of place and quality of life, and turning the industrial past into new growth through redevelopment, [can be accomplished] while supporting the same plant and animal species seen here hundreds of years ago.”
Chris also manages the Lehigh River Water Trail, where he works with landowners, outfitters, and other stakeholders to develop and manage public access, address issues of safety and overuse, and promote the trail.
One of those partners is the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor which manages the D&L Trail. The D&L Trail runs adjacent to the water trail for its entirety and shares public access points as trailheads. These joint trailheads have many of the same issues, including overuse, parking, signage, and stewardship.
Chris works with staff at the D&L and municipal landowners to plan appropriately for both the land and water trail in this shared corridor, allowing for multiple forms of recreation and experience.
Chris also serves on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Water Trails Partnership -- a collaborative program with the National Parks Service, Pa. Fish & Boat Commission, DCNR, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to successfully promote and manage water trails across the commonwealth.
Within the partnership, Chris provides on-the-ground knowledge and experience, and perspective about the challenges faced by water trail managers.
“The phrase ‘think globally, act locally’ couldn’t ring more true in the conservation world,” Chris says. “I encourage people that have an interest in conservation to seek out organizations or initiatives to volunteer and get more involved with where you live.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate someone.
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[Posted: September 18, 2019]
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