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Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of the Laurel Highlands

Date: 10/8/2014

Our World-Class Streams: A Workshop for Citizens of
the Laurel Highlands

 

The world-class quality of streams in the Laurel Highlands
is largely unrecognized, even by many outdoor enthusiasts, but the public can learn
about these treasures in a series of workshops sponsored by the Laurel Highlands
Conservation Coalition.

 

The workshops will explain why local streams with highly
diverse aquatic life are valuable not only on a local scale but also on a
global scale.

 

“You are invited to learn about the world-class quality of
flowing waters in our backyards, how to protect our streams and ways you and
local groups can find funds for local projects,” said Dr. Cynthia Walter, a
presenter and a biology professor at Saint
Vincent
College

in Latrobe.  “Individuals interested in water resources and wildlife and
active members of conservation-minded groups can network at these evening
programs.”



Some local streams are so richly diverse that they possibly
could qualify to be recognized as World Heritage Sites or as National Natural
Landmarks, although the process for obtaining either designation would be very
involved.  On the other hand, nearly
one-quarter, almost 20,000 miles, of the state’s creeks, rivers, and lakes that
we rely on for recreation, for drinking, and for household uses are polluted,
according to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s most recent
statewide water quality survey,

 

Ways to protect these streams will be offered along with a
presentation on “Finding the Green,
a single-source guide to state funding opportunities compiled by the Pennsylvania Growing
Greener Coalition.

 

The workshops will be held as follows:

 


  • Oct.
    15 at the DiSepio Institute for Rural Health & Wellness, seminar room 201
    of Saint Francis University
    in Loretto.  The event will begin at
    6 p.m. with an hour of networking with free pizza, coffee and soft
    drinks.  The workshop will be held
    from 7 to 9 p.m.  The Center for
    Watershed Research and Service at Saint Francis is host for the event.

 


  • Oct.
    29 at Lamonica’s Restaurant near Jennerstown. The workshop will be held
    from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be preceded at 5 p.m. with Green Drinks
    Laurel Highlands
    ,
    a networking opportunity for conservation-minded people featuring pizza
    and a cash bar.  Several Green
    Drinks events have been held around Johnstown
    and the effort has expanded recently to do events in Ligonier, Ebensburg
    and now Jennerstown.

 

A similar workshop will be held Oct. 22 at Saint Vincent College,
Latrobe.

 

Each workshop will include question-and-answer opportunities
and the following speakers:

 


  • Dr. Walter,
    a biology professor at St.
    Vincent
    College
    ,
    will explain why area streams should be considered as a World Heritage
    Site.

 


  • Dr.
    Gail Drus, a biology professor at St.
    Francis College
    ,
    will explain how plant diversity impacts streams.

 


  • A local
    watershed leader will connect these ideas to local streams.  In Cambria
    County, that speaker will be Robb
    Piper, manager of the Cambria County Conservation District, and in Somerset County, Len Lichvar, manager of the
    Somerset County Conservation District. 
    Each speaker is also part of the Stonycreek-Conemaugh River
    Improvement Project.

 


  • Andrew
    Heath, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition,
    will speak about funding opportunities for grass-roots organizations
    interested conserving local resources.

 

The events are geared for the average citizen along with
members of sportsmen’s, conservation and similar organizations who wish to
network.  Please RSVP or refer question
to bclemenson@pecpa.org.

 

The Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition was formed about
three years ago by conservation groups in a four-county region with the goals
of helping them network and learn.  The
coalition previously held day-long conferences in central locations but is
changing the format to make the workshops convenient to more people.  The public is invited to all three programs.

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