Bucknell University and the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition hosted the “From the Branches to the Confluence” Conference last week that attracted over 100 active watershed volunteers, water quality researchers, local officials and state and federal agency representatives.
H.W. "Skip" Wieder, Geisinger Health System, said the three goals of the conference were to get a better understanding of the initiatives and research going on in the West and North Branches of the Susquehanna, provide a forum for networking and developing new partnership opportunities and develop an action plan for future projects and goals for the Upper Susquehanna.
· PaED Video Blog: Watch Wieder’s overview of the Conference.
William C. Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, gave one of two keynotes addresses to the Conference outlining the critical links between work going on in the Upper Susquehanna and the cleanup of the Bay.
“Ask the right questions,” Baker urged participants. “For example, we never thought there was a link between the reclamation of mine discharges and cleaning up the Bay, but research at Bucknell and by Stroud Water Research Center shows there may be a link between reduced capacity of a stream to assimilate nutrients traveling to the Bay caused by mine drainage.”
Baker also urged conference participants to support bipartisan legislation - House Bill 2878 and Senate Bill 1286- that would offer farmers tax credits for installing best management practices to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to the Bay called the Resource Enhancement and Protection Act (REAP).
· PaED Video Blog: Watch Baker’s comments about the Conference.
Ann Pesire Swanson, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, provided the other keynote address and a status report on Bay cleanup efforts.
Swanson noted that 80 percent of the nutrients that pollute the Bay come from non-point sources of pollution, not from wastewater treatment plants and industry, and that 96 percent of the water quality impaired streams in Pennsylvania are impaired by non-point sources.
She highlighted the importance of the work the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition and watershed groups were doing in the Bay watershed to deal with these problems.
· PaED Vodeo Blog: Watch Swanson’s comments on cleanup efforts.
Amy G. Wolfe, Director of National Trout Unlimited’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Programs and a guiding force behind the Kettle Creek Watershed Association, noted watershed cleanup efforts in the Upper Susquehanna River should not only focus on the water quality value of the cleanups themselves, but also on the economic value of those cleanups to the communities and the region.
· PaED Video Blog: Watch Wolfe’s update on West Branch cleanup efforts.
John Dawes, Western PA Watershed Program, provided participants with an outline of what private watershed project funding programs like his look for from applicants.
Dawes also provided an update on efforts by the PA AML Coalition to get legislation passed in Congress to reauthorize the federal fee that supports the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. He urged everyone to contact their U.S. Senate and House representatives and urge them to act before Congress adjourns for their election recess.
· PaED Video Blog: Watch Dawes’ comments on AML Fund reauthorization.
Members of the Susquehanna River and Heartland Coalition will be reviewing the comments and recommendations made at the Conference to layout “next steps.”
“We hope this is just the first of annual conferences we hope to have to focus attention on the work that needs to be done to restore the Upper Susquehanna,” said Skip Wieder.
Enjoy these Video Blog extras from the Conference—
· Dr. Carl S. Kirby, Bucknell University, explains why he painted his 1982 VW bus with paint made from mine drainage treatment leftovers.
· Michael Hewitt, Eastern Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, tells how he first got interested in doing watershed restoration work in the Northeast.
· PA Environment Digest Video Blog
NewsClips: River’s Health Improving – Upper Susquehanna Conference
To Save the Bay, A Fresh Funding Stream
PA Farmers Could REAP Tax Benefits Under Proposed Bill
Nutrient Trading – Helping the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Watershed States Agree to Slash Fertilizer Pollution
State of Chesapeake Bay Forests
Help Forest Owners See Green for Their Bay Forest Efforts
Strategies for Chesapeake Bay Forests
Gathering Examines River’s Importance
Save a Farm and Save the Bay