Awards Presented by Northeast Environmental Partners, PA Environmental Council

The Northeast Pennsylvania Environmental Partners annual Environmental Awards dinner this week attracted over 300 people to recognize eight award winners, including Edie Stevens, winner of the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award.

The featured speaker for the evening was Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis also attended to make a announcement involving the permanent preservation of 5,000 additional acres of watershed lands in Lackawanna County (see separate story).

The Northeast PA Environmental Partners include the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Northeast Office, Wilkes University, Northeastern PA Alliance, PPL, The Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company and the departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources.

William F. McDonnell, Brennadele, LLC, and former director of DEP’s Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre, served as the Dinner Chair and Master of Ceremonies for the event which will be held at the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Wilkes-Barre.

Here is a brief description of each of the Environmental Partners Environmental Award winners:

Edith D. Stevens, Cresco, Monroe County, Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award.

If you’ve been involved in environmental protection in northeastern Pennsylvania, you’ve likely worked with, or at least heard of, Edie Stevens. For some forty years, Edie has been involved in conservation, and for many of those years, she has been a regional force in water resource protection, community planning, and environmental education.

Edie Stevens’ conservation juices first got flowing in the ‘60’s, when a neighbor told her that her neighborhood stream, Forest Hills Run, was polluted. At that time, Edie didn’t even know what the term “pollution” meant. So she spent some time educating herself by reading the encyclopedia and other reference material, beginning what has been a lifelong process of personal learning and teaching of others.

The list of organizations that Edie Stevens has served with is indeed impressive – the Board of Directors of the Monroe County Conservation District, the Paradise Township Planning Commission, the board of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, DEP’s Special Protection Waters Regulatory Negotiation Committee, DEP’s Deep Mine Mediation Project, the board of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the DEP’s Water Resources Advisory Committee, the Paradise Township Environmental Advisory Council, to name a few.

She was, and is, actively involved in the development of the Monroe County Comprehensive Plan and its implementation. And, she was a key leader in the preparation of the Brodhead Watershed Rivers Conservation Plan, which was completed in 2002. Her resume is very impressive indeed.

Amongst all this, Edie is particularly proud of two achievements that have their roots in that first encounter with a polluted Forest Hills Run. In 1989, Edie founded the Brodhead Watershed Association, one of the first in this part of the state. (Forest Hills Run is a tributary of the Brodhead.) She is a past president and the current treasurer of the association, and all they have accomplished would take more space than we have to document.

And, in 1993, she became involved with the Water Resources Education Network, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Today, she is the editor of Water Policy News and communications director for WREN, which provides funding for groups engaged in water resource education projects and for groups and individuals wishing to improve local policy making for water resource protection.

People have asked Edie what keeps her going. To paraphrase her answer: when I see people who, in the past, knew little about water conservation, or who cared little about it, “get it” and get involved in their communities. That’s enough to keep me energized for a long time. And, Edie plans to be energized for a long time more…and, that’s good for northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Alliance to Keep Pike Green, a project of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Keep Pike Green, is responsible for increasing the awareness of growth-related issues in Pike County. The Alliance to Keep Pike Green is a coalition of conservationists, business people, builders, landowners, local officials and local residents who are committed to preserving Pike County’s high quality of life through good planning and active conservation.

The Alliance has partnered with numerous organizations including the Pike County Conservation District, Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Nature Conservancy, Pinchot Institute of Conservation, Lackawaxen River, Conservancy, Upper Delaware Visioning Committee and the Pocono Environmental Education Center. The Alliance has given presentations to over 50 clubs and organizations including senior clubs, realtors, town officials, home owner associations, planning boards, rotary clubs and school districts on the need to control growth to protect Pike County’s natural resources.

This public outreach effort culminated in the 2005 passage of the Scenic and Rural Character Preservation Bond Referendum. Additionally, a series of educational workshops have been created through these partnering activities, which expand on the bond campaign’s theme of watershed protection, open space preservation, conservation options, planning and growth management and scenic and rural character preservation.

James Clauser, Carbon County Conservation District. James Clauser has been the District Manager for the Carbon County Conservation District for over 17 years. Mr. Clauser, through his work at the Conservation District recently brought together Nesquehoning Borough, Nesquehoning Borough Water Authority, The Honorable Keith R. McCall, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and private land to stabilize and restore 1,300 feet of the extremely steep and rapidly eroding First Hollow Run stream channel thus eliminating excessive sediment discharges to Nesquehoning Creek and areas downstream of its confluence with the Lehigh River.

Significant concerns regarding the creek began when an exposed water pipe was noted by the Nesquehoning Borough Water Authority. Mr. Clauser and the Conservation District soon became involved thereafter and became the principal driving force behind the environmental restoration of First Hollow Run.

Mr. Clauser and the Conservation District pursued and were successfully awarded three Growing Greener Grants from PA DEP that funded the stream restoration. Mr. Clauser went above and beyond his role as District Manager to oversee this project and through his partnering efforts not only succeeded in stabilizing First Hollow Run, but the use of natural stream design efforts also significantly enhanced in-stream aquatic and riparian habitat.

Developmental Education Services of Monroe County, Inc. (DES). DES has provided quality services and programs for adults and young children with special needs throughout Monroe County for over 23 years.

DES, in 2000, met with representatives of the Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority (MCMWMA) and established a cooperative agreement to service local pharmacies by picking up their pill bottles on a weekly basis. As the working relationship between MCMWMA and DES grew, so did the opportunities for DES clients to support and promote recycling in Monroe County.

Consequently, in 2001, DES founded the DES Community Partners in Recycling (CPR), an endeavor to build an environmentally responsible and responsive community through recycling.

Currently, DES-CPR employs one business manager, three supervisors, and 12 workers with disabilities, while continuing its volunteer program for 8 individuals. DES-CPR holds cooperative agreements/contracts with numerous offices and local businesses. Annually DESCPR facilitates the recycling of 5,000 tons of materials.

DES-CPR continues to have an impact on Monroe County recycling by helping businesses and municipalities meet recycling goals, reducing the amount of material going to landfills, providing alternatives to material disposal, and providing meaningful based employment and volunteer opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

Luzerne County Solid Waste Management Department. Four years ago, the Luzerne County Solid Waste Management Department, began a free tire and electronics recycling program for the 75 communities in Luzerne County.

This program began with former Luzerne County Director/Recycling Coordinator, Ed Latinski, but has grown tremendously over the last several years due to the partnering efforts of Luzerne County with Hanover Area School Board and Administration, Butler Township Board of Supervisors and Firehouse, Luzerne County Correctional Facility and the Luzerne County Community Service Program, Luzerne County Sheriffs Office, and local residents. With thousands of vehicles dropping off recyclables, the coordination and partnering efforts was monumental.

This program has resulted in the recycling of 873,037 pounds of electronics and 65,473 tires. In 2005, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinity recognized this event as the largest electronics collection east of the Mississippi.

Edwin Reish, Bradford County. A dedication to environmental awareness and education is more than words; it is action, partnership, and dedication to a lifestyle that shares with all individuals around you the principles of true environmental stewardship. Ed Reish has talked and lived a life that is built on those principles of true environmental stewardship.

Mr. Reish began to focus his dedication to wildlife in 1980 when he began assisting a wildlife rehabilitator. In 1985, he began the process to obtain a wildlife-rehabilitator permit, which he obtained in 1987, along with his wife, Barbara “Tink” Reish. Since that time, he has added many pens for a variety of birds and animals.

Working with community groups and individuals, Mr. Reish supported his operation through donations and dedication. He travels often over 100 miles to give presentations in support for such activities as the Conservation District Field Days held for School Districts. Literally thousands of individuals have been privileged to hear Mr. Reish’s informative and engaging presentations.

He partnered with Bradford County Conservation District, Penn State University, and Pennsylvania Game Commission to provide teacher graduate classes. Building on his experience with rehabilitating wildlife, and especially birds, Ed worked actively on the osprey reintroduction program at the Tioga Hammond Dam for two years (1992-1993).

This led to his role as primary caretaker for the peregrine falcon reintroduction Program in Williamsport for the four-year span from 1993 to 1996.

Additionally, working with the birding community, Ed has been an active participant and organizer of the bald eagle survey on the Little and Big Pine Creeks for 10 years. For the Conservation Districts in his area, his irreplaceable value has been his partnership and support of the countless school and educational outreach efforts. He has brought wildlife into the classrooms (literally) and into the minds and hearts of his audiences. Mr. Reish is truly an outstanding environmental steward.

To receive an invitation to next year’s awards dinner, please call the Pennsylvania Environmental Council at 570-718-6507 or send email to: Julie A. McMonagle, , Director of PEC's Northeast Office.

Link: Sign Up for the PA Environmental Council’s Monthly E-Newsletter Today!


Go To Preceding Article     Go To Next Article

Return to This PA Environment Digest's Main Page