Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Honored for Work on ANF

July 15, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – The USDA Forest Service announced that three members of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) Watershed Conservation Program won the 2022 National Rise to the Future Awards for excellence and leadership in Fisheries, Hydrology, Wildlife, Air, and Soil Science Programs.

Luke Bobnar Watershed Program Manager, Eric Chapman Senior Director of Aquatic Sciences, and Kylie Maland Conservancy Watershed Manager were recognized for their work protecting, studying, and improving the waterways that flow into, through, and out of the Allegheny National Forest.

The Rise to the Future Awards honor Forest Service staff and partners for their leadership in stewardship of fisheries, water, wildlife, soil, and air resources on national forests and grasslands, and recognizes their hard work and dedication to improving our nation’s natural resources.

“The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Watershed Conservation Program is one of the Allegheny National Forest’s strongest watershed restoration allies and is a great example of the power of partnership. I am proud of everything they accomplished over nearly two decades of collaboration with local landowners, farmers, oil and gas operators, and conservation groups to implement watershed restoration projects across our landscape. This critical work is key to maintaining the value of the high-quality forests and streams in the Forest, as well as improving aquatic habitat and watershed conditions,” said Allegheny National Forest Supervisor, Jamie Davidson.

A few projects of note completed over the decades include in-stream projects to slow erosion and improve floodplain connectivity, collaboration with partners to protect and improve more than 3,000 stream miles and plant more than 40,000 riparian trees, improving watersheds and aquatic communities through large woody material restoration on over 30 miles of streams, and a mussel translocation project at the Hunter Station Bridge that through collaboration became one of the largest freshwater mussel restoration projects in North America.

Scientific studies of note include extensive research on eastern hellbender salamanders, surveys to document the biological, chemical, and physical attributes of Pennsylvania’s unassessed waters, and snorkel surveys for freshwater mussels that resulted in the discovery of the presence of the threatened clubshell mussel in Tionesta Creek.

The recipients were honored on June 15, at a ceremony held in Washington D.C. on the historic Whitten Patio of the US Department of Agriculture Whitten Building.

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