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Video Blog Feature - Ohio Watershed Celebration Honors Environmental Initiative

Over 800 people spent the afternoon on the Monongahela River this week learning about the improvement in Pittsburgh’s water quality, local history and sites, networking and recognizing the environmental achievements of local watershed groups and companies.

There was food, music, presentations and educational programs for kids of all ages on the dock before the boat sailed and during the trip up river.

“The event’s goal is to celebrate the restoration work done through public-private partnerships and to energize attendees to continue work to improve the Ohio River Watershed,” said Margaret Dunn, President of the non-profit Stream Restoration, Inc.

Video Blog: Margaret Dunn on the Importance of Partnership, Watershed Groups

Two sets of honors were given out at the celebration, the annual environmental awards and eight grants totaling $3,000 in a competition for the organizations bringing displays about their activities.

“The environmental awards mark the progress that individuals, government, and businesses have made in restoring our region and waterways,” Dunn said. “We can see an increase in both recreational and economic development opportunities and an improved quality of life in western Pennsylvania because of the work that has been done.”

Environmental awards were given to three individuals, organizations and companies:

· DEP Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources J. Scott Roberts. Roberts was honored with an individual award for working tirelessly with coal companies and environmental groups to ensure former abandoned mine drainage is cleaned up and that new mining permits prevent the formation of mine drainage.

· Growth Through Energy & Community Health (GTECH) was honored in the business category. A non-profit business, GTECH is reclaiming a brownfield site along the Monongahela River in Hazelwood by planting grasses that can later be used to produce biofuels. The company is working in conjunction with Robot City and Carnegie Mellon University's Field Robotics Center and Steel City Biofuels.

· Sharpsburg Borough, Allegheny County, received the Environmental Award in the Local Government category for its work in riverfront improvements.

Eight watershed and other environmental groups won a total of $3,000 in grants in four different categories in the competition among displays brought on the Celebration boat tour. Here are the first and second place winners.

· Best Overall Display: Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team and Sewickley Creek Watershed Association;

· Best Partnership Effort: Cowanshannock Watershed Association and Mountian Laural Trout Unlimited

· Community Outreach and Education: Blackleggs Creek Watershed Association & Trout Nursery and Youghiogheny River Environmental Education Center

· Most Innovative Project: Wells Creek Watershed Association and Neville Naturalists.

First place winners received a $500 grant and second place winners received $250.

The water quality in the three rivers of Pittsburgh and their surrounding watersheds have improved dramatically in the last 35 years thanks to the dedicated efforts of local and state governments, watershed groups and their many private sector partners.

Video Blog: Dennis Tubbs, Fish & Boat Commission, on How Far We’ve Come.

Providing educational activities for students of a variety of ages was a key goal of this year’s Ohio River Watershed Celebration. Hear what two educational partners had to say about environmental education on the boat tour and in the Pittsburgh region.

Video Blog: Joel Anne Swelthelm, Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve operated by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, talks about educational programs at the Reserve and the activities they sponsored at dock-side.

Video Blog: Karl Thomas, of RiverQuest (formerly Pittsburgh Voyager), talks about their on-the-river approach to environmental education that includes three different boats that soon will include the world’s first green-designed passenger vessel The Explorer.

Video Blog: Thurman Korns, of the Wells Creek Watershed Association, gives us the latest news from this Somerset County watershed group and talks about the importance of building local partnerships.

Video Blog: Tim Danehy, Biomost, Inc., talks about how he got interested in mine drainage treatment and is making it his life’s work.

There were lots of activities, displays, presentations, a narrated tour and much more were all packed into the Ohio River Watershed Celebration. Here are just a few of the sights and sounds from the Celebrations.

Video Blog: Sights and Sounds of the 2007 Ohio River Watershed Celebration.

The sponsors of the 2007 Ohio River Watershed Celebration included: Principal Sponsors: Amerikohl Mining, Inc., Consol Energy, Dominion Foundation, The Pennsylvania Watershed Program (formerly the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program); Program Sponsors: American Water Works Association, BioMost, Inc., HDR Engineering, Inc., Crisci Associates, Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania American Water, Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, W.K. Merriman, Inc., Washington County Conservation District and West View Water Authority.

Program and other partners for the event included: Partners: 241 Computer Services, Aquascape Wetland and Environmental Services, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, CTI Biofuels, Environmentally Innovative Solutions, LLC, Gateway Clipper Fleet, Jane Nugent, WPPT - "Garden Party" Host, Jennings Environmental Education Center (DCNR), Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin Alliance, Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, Mike Gallagher, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, Fish and Boat Commission, Blastie, LLC, Quality Aggregates, Inc., RiverQuest, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, Stream Restoration, Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Session Schedule

The Senate and House return to voting session on September 24.

PA Environment Digest Video Blog

On the Hill

· On the Senate/House Agenda/Bills Introduced

· Senate/House Bills Moving

· Senate Passes, Sends to Governor Mine Families First Legislation

· House Republicans Unveil Tax-Free Energy Plan, Dems Say It’s Pablum

· Reps. Taylor, Vereb Announce Bipartisan Plan to Fund Hazardous Site Cleanups

· Senate Committee Hears Comments on Biofuels in First of Two Hearings

· Chesapeake Bay Foundation Urges U.S. Senator Casey to Fight for Clean Water

· Hazardous Sites Cleanup Funding Topic of New Senate Committee Hearing

· Environmental Issues Forum on Anti-Dumping Program, New Newsletter Online

Other News

· Increase in Driving Causes Unexpected Increase In Greenhouse Gas Emissions

· 4 Game Commission Open Houses Remain on Deer Management – Video Blog

· Game Commission Youth Essay Contest Deadline October 31

· $1 Million in Environmental Education Grants Awarded, New Applications Due

· Wildlands Conservancy Unveils Clean Creeks Program

· New Chesapeake Bay Report Results – Bad Water This Summer

· “Floods & Fixes” Conservation Tour in Westmoreland County October 5

· PPL Retires Two Coal-Fired Units at Martins Creek Power Plant, Credits Retired

· PA Sustainable Agriculture Assn. Sponsors Biodiesel & Compost Field Day

· Mother Earth Harvest Fair:A Celebration of Sustainable Living September 29 & 30


· Wind Energy Vital to Pennsylvania’s Economy, Environment and Public Health, By PennFuture


· Mill Creek Improvements Benefit Communities Downstream

· A Stream On The Rebound-- Trout in an AMD-impacted Stream? By Andy McAllister, Watershed Coordinator and Bruce Golden, Regional Coordinator

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