CLEAN WATER COUNTS! IN LUZERNE COUNTY: CBF APPLAUDS COUNCIL FOR ADOPTING CLEAN WATER RESOLUTION

For Immediate Release

Contact    Kelly Donaldson, 717.234.5550, ext. 4205

 

Resolution Recognizes Significance of Clean Water in the Keystone State

 

(HARRISBURG) – The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauds the Luzerne County Council for adopting a Clean Water Counts resolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Keystone State.

“Healthy families, strong communities, and a thriving Pennsylvania economy depend on clean water,” said Harry Campbell, CBF’s Pennsylvania Executive Director. “We applaud and thank Luzerne County Council members for publicly voicing their support for clean water in the Keystone State.”

CBF embarked on the Clean Water Counts campaign in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) most recent statewide surface waters assessment. The results show that of the 86,000 miles of waterways flowing through the Commonwealth, nearly 20,000 miles are polluted. They also reported that the top pollution sources are agricultural activities, abandoned mine drainage (AMD), and runoff from urban and suburban communities. EPCAMR is a partner in that campaign.

Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) pollutes more than 5,500 miles of Pennsylvania’s waterways, and its bright orange, or often neon-blue hue is visually haunting. But AMD does more than just pollute, it literally renders a stream lifeless. There are no fish, crayfish, not even grasses in these toxic streams.

In Luzerne County, streams like the Nescopeck and Sugarloaf, even the mighty Lackawanna River, which is a major tributary of the Susquehanna River, are polluted by AMD. In total, 165 of the 1,238 miles of waterways flowing through the County are devastated by AMD. Other sources of pollution include urban and suburban runoff, which accounts for 32 miles of impairment, and sources categorized as unknown and other, which together account for 60 miles of pollution.

For nearly two decades, the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR), the leading regional non-profit environmental organization dealing with AMD, has been working in Luzerne County, and in other coalfield communities throughout the north eastern and north central coal regions of Pennsylvania to educate residents, and to assist with the reclamation of the lands, streams, and other natural resources polluted by AMD.

Robert Hughes, Executive Director of the program, is committed to turning things around in the region and in Luzerne County.

“We’re grateful for this public support of clean water by the Luzerne Council members,” said Hughes. “Out of the top 20 prioritized abandoned mine discharges within the Anthracite Region of the Susquehanna River Basin, 12 of them have concentrated, devastating impacts in Luzerne County. It’s EPCAMR’s mission to educate, seek funding for reclamation, and to help improve our local communities. Luzerne County’s new Clean Water Counts resolution will support us in those daily efforts.”

Robert Hughes,  Executive Director of Eastern PA Coalition for abandoned mine reclamation, takes water samples in a mine drainage in Newport Township, Luzerne County, PA (Michael J. Mullen)

Robert Hughes, Executive Director of Eastern PA Coalition for abandoned mine reclamation, takes water samples in a mine drainage discharge from the Newport Lake (a water-filled stripping pit) in Newport Township, Luzerne County, PA (Michael J. Mullen)

Through public education and engagement, CBF is hoping to increase awareness of water pollution issues, like those in Luzerne County, and elsewhere in the Keystone State. The goal is to urge state officials to make clean water a priority and commit the needed funding and programs to ensure that the waters that we rely on for drinking and household uses, recreation, and to grow our food, all meet clean water standards.

In addition to calling on local officials to pass resolutions, CBF is also asking something of citizens.

“We’re asking all Pennsylvania residents to show their support for clean water by signing the Clean Water Counts online petition,” said Campbell. “It takes only a few minutes, but your signature will go a long way toward demonstrating the importance of clean water to our elected officials.”

 

Old Forge AMD Borehole entering the Lackawanna River

Old Forge AMD Borehole entering the Lackawanna River

Online petition signatures will be accepted through October 18th, the anniversary of the Clean Water Act. To learn more about the campaign go to cbf.org/PAForCleanWater.

EPCAMR Awards 3 Mini-Grants to Regional Projects through Donated Funds from ARIPPA totaling $2500

The Anthracite Region Independent Power Producers Association’s (ARIPPA) Executive Director, Jeff A McNelly, reported that ARIPPA plant members have collectively donated over $50,000 to various deserving volunteer watershed and conservancy groups actively battling Pennsylvania’s largest environmental problem…AML and AMD over the last 5 years.

 

Robert Hughes-EPCAMR Executive Director and Andy McAllister-WPCAMR Regional Coordinator accept the $5000 check from ARIPPA

Robert Hughes-EPCAMR Executive Director and Andy McAllister-WPCAMR Regional Coordinator accept the $5000 check from ARIPPA

ARIPPA awarded $5,000 in August at their Annual Awards Luncheon and $45,000 in the past to watershed organizations performing Abandoned Mine Land (AML) and/or Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) remediation improvements that are partners of EPCAMR and WPCAMR. Award recipients have included: Allegheny Valley Land Trust, Altman Run-Watershed, Babb Creek Watershed, Blackleggs Creek Watershed, Chestnut Ridge Chapter Trout Unlimited, Clearfield Creek Watershed, Earth Conservancy, Eastern Middle Anthracite Region Recovery, Evergreen Conservancy, Huber Breaker Preservation Society, Lackawanna River Corridor Association, Loyalsock Creek Watershed, Luzerne Conservation District, Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association, Plymouth Historical Society, Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Sewickley Creek Watershed, and the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance.

 

Awards are granted under the guidance and administration of Eastern and Western Pennsylvania Coalitions for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR and WPCAMR respectively). EPCAMR and WPCAMR are the two leading, regional environmental non-profit associations organized to encourage the reclamation, remediation, and redevelopment of lands and streams impacted by past mining practices. “EPCAMR and WPCAMR oversee the solicitation of proposals each year, review them, recommend them for awards, and then provide the selected award winners with checks following the ARIPPA Annual Awards Luncheon in August. Each year we publicize the request for applications a few times a year and usually look forward to at least 4-6 applications knowing that we only $2500 per Coalition to distribute. It’s a very simple application process. I’m surprised there aren’t more applications, honestly. Hopefully in 2015, we’ll get more. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. That hasn’t stopped us from redistributing the donation from ARIPPA at all. 100% of the funding goes out each and every year and we are proud of the projects that we can support on the ground in partnership with ARIPPA,” stated Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director. ARIPPA is also represented on the EPCAMR Board of Directors as an Industry Trade Association representative.

 

The 3 EPCAMR Award Winning Projects for 2014 are as follows:

$ 1300 will go to the Babb Creek Watershed Association (BCWA) for the cost of 1 of the 2 replacement stainless steel runners that are needed for the Antrim AMD MicroHydroPower Treatment Plant.

Corroded Runner at the Antrim MicroHydro Turbine AMD Treatment Plant

Corroded Runner at the Antrim MicroHydro Turbine AMD Treatment Plant

New Runner at the Antrim MicroHydro Turbine AMD Treatment Plant

New Runner at the Antrim MicroHydro Turbine AMD Treatment Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$ 700 will be administered by EPCAMR on behalf of a group of volunteers led by Joe Sapienza Jr., Director of a recent short documentary on Centralia, who sought EPCAMR’s technical assistance to coordinate a large illegal dumpsite cleanup effort, called Cleanup Centralia! on October 25th, 2014 this Fall to fund the hauling of waste and debris from three locations in and around Centralia, Byrnesville, and along Big Mine Run Road. Cleanup supplies, shovels, rakes, grass seed, wildflower mix, and NO DUMPING signs will also be picked up and housed with EPCAMR.

Illegal Dump Pile in Centralia near the Odd Fellows Cemetery that will be one of the sites cleaned up on October 25th

Illegal Dump Pile in Centralia near the Odd Fellows Cemetery that will be one of the sites cleaned up on October 25th

 

$  500 will go to the Mehoopany Creek Watershed Association (MCWA) for the purchase of 17 Tons of limestone sand to treat the acidic conditions of the South Branch Mehoopany Creek that will be placed in the Spring of 2015 ahead of the melt of from the Winter.

 

Rock Vein Construction on Mehoopany Creek

Rock Vein Construction on Mehoopany Creek

Confluence of the S. Branch and N. Branch of the Mehoopany Creek that will benefit from the limestone sand dosing

Confluence of the S. Branch and N. Branch of the Mehoopany Creek that will benefit from the limestone sand dosing

 

Watershed protection and abandoned mine land reclamation are two of the fastest growing areas of community-based collaboration in the Commonwealth of PA. Throughout the country, watershed groups are playing an increasingly prominent role in environmental management. Remediation projects are costly and long-term endeavors with costs averaging between $10-20,000 per acre, according to the Pennsylvania Mining Reclamation Advisory Board. The ARIPPA Reclamation Awards partnership with EPCAMR/WPCAMR are designed to help watershed groups and community groups continue their volunteer efforts toward improving our environment.

 

 

 

Organized in 1988, ARIPPA is a non-profit trade association representing alternative energy plants that remove coal refuse from AML areas, convert it into alternative energy, and beneficially utilize the ash by-product to reclaim thousands of acres of mine-scarred lands and hundreds of miles of formerly dead streams back to their natural state; without any expenditure of tax dollars. To date over 212 million tons of coal refuse has been converted into alternative energy by member plants. Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) technology (one of the cleanest methods available today) is used to convert coal refuse into electricity and an alkaline-rich ash by-products utilized for decades in a highly regulated, safe, and beneficial manner to: fill and reclaim unsafe, abandoned mine lands; to remediate streams damaged by acid mine drainage; amend soil at mining sites, and serve as an additive in concrete/asphalt for construction and roadways.

The unique nature of ARIPPA’s environmental efforts combined with the desire to coordinate these efforts with “hands-on” environmentally oriented groups and governmental agencies symbolizes its commitment to improving our nation’s landscape and environment.

CLEAN WATER COUNTS! TO WYOMING COUNTY CBF APPLAUDS COMMISSIONERS FOR ADOPTING CLEAN WATER RESOLUTION

Contact Kelly Donaldson, 717.234.5550, ext. 4205

Resolution Recognizes Significance of Clean Water in the Keystone State

 

(HARRISBURG) – The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauds the Wyoming County Commissioners for adopting a Clean Water Countsresolution, calling on state officials to make clean water a top priority for the Keystone State.

 

Wyoming County Commissioners are the first to officially join the statewide effort lead by CBF, by passing a resolution. CBF embarked on the Clean Water Counts campaign in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) most recent statewide assessment of the health of surface waters, which reported that nearly 20,000 miles of rivers and streams that we rely on for drinking and household uses, recreation, and to grow our food, are polluted.

 

Bowman's Creek, outside of Tunkhannock, PA Wyoming Cty

Bowman’s Creek, outside of Tunkhannock, PA Wyoming Cty

 

Through public education and engagement, the resolution campaign CBF urges officials to make clean water a priority and to commit the needed funding and programs to ensure that all 83,000 miles of waterways in the state are clean.

 

DEP’s survey results conclude that agricultural activities pollute the greatest miles of waterways followed by the legacy of coal mining and impacts from abandoned mine drainage, as well as polluted runoff, or stormwater, from our urban and suburban communities, including roads.

 

“Healthy families, strong communities, and a thriving Pennsylvania economy depend on clean water,” said Harry Campbell, CBF’s Pennsylvania Executive Director. “We applaud and thank the Commissioners of Wyoming County for publicly voicing their support for clean water for the Keystone State.”

 

In addition to calling on local officials to pass resolutions, CBF is also asking something of citizens.

 

“We’re asking all Pennsylvania residents to show their support for clean water by signing the Clean Water Counts online petition,” said Campbell. “It takes only a few minutes, but it goes a long way toward demonstrating the importance of clean water to our elected officials.” EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, urges all County Commissioners and Home Rule County Councils to do the same, particularly in our Anthracite Coal Region, where a majority of our streams are impacted by AMD.

 

Online petition signatures will be accepted through October 18th, the anniversary of the Clean Water Act. To learn more about the campaign go to cbf.org/PAForCleanWater.

EPCAMR Promotes Two Mining GIS Technical Assistance Center Staff Recently

Just a few short weeks ago Kelsey Biondo and Dave Svab were promoted to new positions within EPCAMR on the PA DEP Mine Map Project. “There are so many great projects happening in and out of the EPCAMR Office that is has been difficult to keep up on letting the public know of the importance not only of our work, but of the expertise and knowledge of our own Staff that are critical to our ongoing success, Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, enthusiastically stated.  The Mine Map Project roject aims to scan, geo-reference, and digitize mine maps from the entire Anthracite Region, with a recent focus on the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys, in order to make it easier for the general public and businesses to find out if what lies beneath them is in fact an underground abandoned mine, or a stable location, suitable to both build a home, or even to locate a business. These maps, once put into the digital archives of the

PHUMMIS Logo

PHUMMIS Logo

PA Historic Underground Mine Mapping Inventory System (PHUMMIS) online, can then be looked at in detail by the public to see if they would need to apply for Mine Subsidence Insurance. A large majority of the public in the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley alone, don’t have mine subsidence insurance, and this effort will help to either alleviate their concerns about the underground mine workings or it could lead them to purchase the insurance as a necessity should something like a mine subsidence hole open up in their neighborhood or under their home.

 

 

Kelsey Biondo, who has been working on the project since its start in October 2013, was promoted to GIS Mine Map Program Coordinator. Kelsey was also a former EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Intern with EPCAMR. “Over the last year, Kelsey has become proficient in all aspects of the DEP Mine Map Project and has gained valuable experience that I think will allow her to oversee the successful implementation of the project and the workloads of the other two part-time Staff  and any seasonal interns that might join us throughout the year. I can’t tell you enough how proficient, professional, and hard-working our Staff really are. I think they enjoy their jobs. I try to get them the right mix of field work, breaks from the computer screens, outdoor field learning experiences, and team spirit that makes our Office function well. We’ve often compared ourselves to the environmental version of “The Office”, with all of the personalities that mix very well throughout the work day and the public that walks through our doors often on a spur of the moment.” Robert stated with confidence.

 

Kelsey Biondo, EPCAMR's newly promoted GIS Mine Map Program Coordinator and her boyfriend Bill Smith.

Kelsey Biondo, EPCAMR’s newly promoted GIS Mine Map Program Coordinator and her boyfriend Bill Smith.

 

As GIS Mine Map Program Coordinator, Kelsey will submit monthly reports detailing EPCAMR’s progress on the project in addition to keeping an Inventory Control Sheet for organizational purposes of the thousands of maps that EPCAMR has been cataloguing, scanning, geo-referencing, and digitizing for the Commonwealth of PA. Other new responsibilities include assisting others working on the Mine Map Project along with increased communication with the Executive Director, Robert Hughes, and the Program Manager, Michael Hewitt on the Mine Map Project and other ongoing EPCAMR projects.

 

Perhaps the most exciting part of Kelsey’s new job as GIS Mine Map Program Coordinator is her promotion to Full Time! Congratulations Kelsey!

 

Dave Svab, who has been working on the project since April 2014, was promoted from Part-time GIS Technician to Part-time GIS Specialist. When Dave first began work on the Mine Map Project, he started out by simply scanning maps and cataloging data into PHUMMIS, the State computer system where all of the digital map information is stored. Dave was a former volunteer with EPCAMR, who then became a Watershed Outreach Intern, working with EPCAMR on stream restoration projects, environmental education programs, water monitoring efforts, and illegal dump site and stream cleanups. “Dave has worked his way up the ranks, much like every other Staff person within EPCAMR has, learning along the way about the multidisciplinary aspects of our work in the EPCAMR Region on a number of projects and programs that we have to juggle and coordinate.” stated Robert.

Dave Svab (second from Robert)-GIS Specialist, and the EPCAMR Crew on the Sugar Notch Trail

Dave Svab (second from Robert)-GIS Specialist, and the EPCAMR Crew on the Sugar Notch Trail

 

As a GIS Specialist, Dave is now familiar with certain aspects of GIS and is able to geo-reference maps. In addition, because Dave has gained knowledge about GIS and geo-referencing, he is now able to assist others on the Mine Map Project.  Congratulations Dave!

EPCAMR adds Peter Falvey, Senior from Misericordia University as our Fall Public Relations/Communications Intern

Peter Falvey is a Senior studying Communications at Misericordia University. Peter is originally from Wallingford, PA. He is graduating in the Winter of 2014. After Graduation, he is hoping to find a job in the Public Relations field.

Peter Falvey, EPCAMR's Fall Communications & Outreach PR Intern from Misericordia University.

Peter Falvey, EPCAMR’s Fall Communications & Outreach PR Intern from Misericordia University.

When not in class, Peter enjoys hiking in Francis Slocum State Park. His most memorable outdoor experience was rafting down the Colorado River last summer. “Looking up on the walls of The Grand Canyon is a breath taking experience,” said Peter.

Peter knows this isn’t the average internship for a Communications major. “I don’t know any other people in my program that going to be dealing with AMD, or even know what it is for that matter. My goal is to fix that,” said Peter. “I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty, both metaphorically and literally.”

Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director enthusiastically stated, “We’re glad to have Peter here for the Fall 2014, given his experience in writing, communications, social media applications, and connections with PR outlets that are existing from his work with Misericordia University. Peter is currently the President of the Public Relations Student Society of America and has created press releases, designed music, and directed Staff for Holiday Chic Peek, a large campus benefit that featured first season “Project Runway” winner Jay McCarroll. He’s even organized fundraisers and created advertising posters for events around campus.  His background in writing news stories and feature stories for The Highlander, as a Staff Writer will come in handy. His knowledge of Final Cut Express, Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress, and Radio BOSS, shows his familiarity with technical proficiencies in multiple software platforms.

“Just because Peter lacks knowledge on AMD doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t bring him on as an intern. He will learn plenty in a few short months that will surely open his eyes to the water pollution problems that we deal with here in Northeastern and NorthCentral PA. His hometown area of Wallingford is about 9 miles North of Philadelphia and Crum Creek, his local watershed is certainly not impacted by AMD. College students have this false impression that an organization like ours may only be looking for scientific interns with biology, chemistry, environmental science, and GIS Majors and that is furthest from the truth. We like students who have backgrounds in the arts, landscape architecture, geology, history, photography, videography, communications, public relations, and other Majors that can add to our already growing staff and multi-disciplines that we work in everyday.” Robert emphasized.

“Peter is going to be helping us play a little catch up in terms of completing our 2012 and 2013 Annual Reports, recapping highlights of projects and programs that we’ve completed throughout the years. He is also going to be writing several stories for us on our recent grant awards and projects that we are working on throughout the EPCAMR Region with our partners in the Coalition. Already, Peter has set EPCAMR up with our own Twitter and Instagram Social Media pages on his first day with EPCAMR and will soon be working on a Tumblr account for us. Now, all we have to do is start utilizing them and posting pics and twitter feeds to the sites to increase our publicity and awareness of our work out there in the digital media world and gain followers and potentially future volunteers,” Robert rejoiced. Welcome Peter!

Cait Dickson, Bloomsburg, PA Joins EPCAMR for the Fall as a Watershed Outreach Intern from Bloomsburg University

Cait Dickson is a Senior studying Biology at Bloomsburg University and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015. She is most interested in fresh water biology, and spent this last summer researching the relationships between water chemistry and gas emissions from small ponds in Ohio. After graduation, she hopes to find a position performing water quality tests in either the Great Lakes Region or along the Mid-Atlantic coast before moving on to complete her Master’s Degree.

Cait Dickson, EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Intern, sitting on a rock in a flooded stripping pit in the Jim Thorpe Area.

Cait Dickson, EPCAMR Watershed Outreach Intern, sitting on a rock in a flooded stripping pit in the Jim Thorpe Area.

When not in college, she enjoys hiking and backpacking. She has completed the Loyalsock Trail, as well as sections of the Appalachian Trail, and trails in the Catskills, and Adirondacks. Her favorite day hike is the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park.

Cait helped EPCAMR out earlier in the Summer for a day prior to starting her official internship in the Fall 2014 at the Nockley’s Stream Restoration Project in Hanover Township, PA where we had to physically place several tons of R4 sized stone into areas of the tributary to Solomon Creek where rock energy dissipators were necessary to prevent further streambank erosion and sedimentation from occurring during storm events and heavy rainfalls.

Caitlyn Dickson, looking for some sunlight in the canopy at the Mocanaqua AMD Tunnel while EPCAMR was sampling for flow and chemistry.

Caitlyn Dickson, looking for some sunlight in the canopy at the Mocanaqua AMD Tunnel while EPCAMR was sampling for flow and chemistry.

Cait has already been water quality monitoring at the Espy Run AMD Treatment Wetlands on the Earth Conservancy property that EPCAMR monitors continuously and the Mocanaqua AMD Tunnel, that discharges from the historic West End Colliery, behind the Mocanaqua Borough Sewer Treatment Authority, in Mocanaqua.

Caitlyn Dickson, Elizabeth Rosser, and Gabby Zawacki out in Hazle Brook Creek removing beaver dams around several discharge locations.

Caitlyn Dickson, Elizabeth Rosser, and Gabby Zawacki out in Hazle Brook Creek removing beaver dams around several discharge locations.

 

Just last week, she was with EPCAMR’s other two Staff removing 4 beaver dams that were backing up AMD in the Hazle Creek watershed that drains to the Black Creek and then on to the Upper Lehigh River. She was up to her chest in waders removing several large beaver dams in order for EPCAMR and the Weatherly Borough Planning Commission, one of our partners in Carbon County to be able to continuously monitor the flow measurements of the discharges throughout the year. This is the second time we’ve been back to this location in the last several years.

Today, Cait is out with the other two Staff re-marking additional sections of the Sugar Notch Yellow Trail System on Earth Conservancy property in Sugar Notch, PA. “There is no doubt in my mind that over the course of the Fall, Cait will be exposed to many facets of the environment and ecology that surrounds mine drainage and our abandoned mine lands that are having a direct impact on the biology, ecology, and aquatic and wildlife populations within the Coalfields.” Seeing that she likes to hike and spend time outdoors, and the Summer and Fall being the busiest times of the year for the EPCAMR Staff, I’m sure that she’s going to enjoy her stay  with EPCAMR.” stated Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director.

“Cait is going to try and work with Bloomsburg University to see if they would test some of our AMD samples in their aqueous geochemistry labs to give us a better representative sample of the water quality parameters that we are measuring in the field with field test kits. Often times, we can’t afford to send water samples to the labs unless their is funding available to perform such tasks. AMD Hach Field Test Kits are the most commonly used testing kit in the field by the EPCAMR Staff. We are hoping that the Universities that we work with to sponsor interns will work with us and allow us to give the student interns an opportunity to apply their lab skills and use of the on-campus facilities to support our non-profit efforts in the Region, since they have the resources and equipment that we obviously can’t afford, unless they are grant funded.”  hoped Robert.

Welcome Cait! We’re sure that you will do just fine!

Alternative Energy Co-Generation Plants Donate a Combined $50K to Coalitions over the last 5 years

See the attached article on the regional groups that have been supported by ARIPPA, EPCAMR, and WPCAMR through donations over the last 5 years to support abandoned mine land reclamation, stream restoration, illegal dump site cleanups, mine drainage treatment system rehabilitation or repairs, and environmental education programs throughout PA’s Bituminous and Anthracite Regions. As ARIPPA celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary last week, EPCAMR and WPCAMR Representatives were present in Harrisburg to accept another donation of $5000 ($2500 to each Coalition) to support AMD and AML efforts in our respective regions.

Robert Hughes-EPCAMR Executive Director and Andy McAllister-WPCAMR Regional Coordinator accept the $5000 check from ARIPPA

Robert Hughes-EPCAMR Executive Director and Andy McAllister-WPCAMR Regional Coordinator accept the $5000 check from ARIPPA

http://arippa.org/documents/NEWS%20RELEASE%202014%208%20AML-AMD.pdf

Clean Up Centralia: EPCAMR Assesses Trash Problem in America’s Lost Town for October 25th 2014 Cleanup

In 1962, the small town of Centralia, PA was burdened by a large mine fire. After many failed attempts to put it out, the fire grew bigger and moved underneath the town, cracking streets and leaking toxic gases into the air. For the health and safety of Centralians, families and businesses had to be relocated or forced out.  Due to much controversy, three residents remain who refuse to leave their beloved town that is now made up of empty streets, sidewalks, and barren land where homes, businesses, and buildings once stood. Today, the location is known as PA’s most historic mine fire. The area is also now so isolated that Centralia has recently been subjected to a large-amount of littering and illegal dumping. EPCAMR plans to change the look of the landscape down in the Borough, despite the lack of residents., who aren’t around to be able to help.

Robert showing the EPCAMR Staff, Interns, and Film Crew of the many piles around town.

Robert showing the EPCAMR Staff, Interns, and Film Crew of the many piles around town.

 

 

On Tuesday, July 15th, EPCAMR headed out to Centralia to assess the amount of trash and illegal dumping sites in the area for a possible Fall Cleanup around the now-barren town. With volunteers, interns, and one of our partners–  The Pennsylvania Environmental Council, NE Office (PEC) in tow,  the group met up with the Director of  “Centralia: America’s Lost Town” , Joe Sapienza II, recent graduate, and some of his film crew members from Drexel University, for a tour and to get a site assessment of the area– the first step in cleaning up Centralia!

 

Old Route 61

Old Route 61

Our first stop to survey for trash was where the original fire in Centralia started near the Odd Fellows Cemetery. At this location, we found a few old mattresses and a large illegal dump and burn site with piles of litter, as well as, the start of many illegally-dumped auto tires.  Towards the other end of town, off Meyers Street, the crew walked down an abandoned road or  rail line which was once headed towards Mt. Carmel, to find more illegal dumping going on. The abandoned area was strewn with several wood piles, garbage bags full of household items, many more tires, furniture, and even the front bumper of a JEEP. The crew then parked in an empty lot where the famous Coddington’s Gas Station once stood (one of the main areas for tourists to park their cars in Centralia) and walked down along an abandoned road surrounded by culm  banks. Here, we found even more piles of trash scattered throughout the landscape.

Another Centralia Trash Pile near Meyers Street

 

The July 15th  site assessment showed that there is a strong need for a future cleanup in Centralia. EPCAMR has gotten approval of the State to move along with the cleanup  project. We are confident that we can accomplish this effort as we have completed hundreds of cleanups for nearly the last two decades and are already making contacts to put the wheels in motion.  During the site assessment, the group ran into at least 12 other tourists in the area. EPCAMR Executive Director, Robert Hughes, had a conversation with a few of the individuals about Centralia and the Fall Cleanup EPCAMR was planning on doing. Several of the tourists were happy to hear about the initiative and were willing to help as future volunteers with EPCAMR. Many folks were also interested in a possible future historical interpretive project EPCAMR was also considering for Centralia. We would love to see small wooden plaques with historical information around Centralia for tourists to read about the town and what happened in 1962 that left it abandoned. A handful of people EPCAMR spoke with were also excited about the idea of adding  picnic tables or benches in Centralia for the tourists that visit this historic site. We hope people interested in Centralia and working with EPCAMR will join us as future volunteers for a Fall Cleanup in Centralia set for October 25th from 9am-4pm with a 10am start and a 9am volunteer registration!

EPCAMR Staff and Joe Sapienza II will be coordinating a Fall 2014 Community Cleanup at the location of PA’s most historic mine fire in the Town of Centralia, PA on Saturday, October 25th. Recent film graduate students Joe Sapienza (Director) and friends from Drexel University, have been working with us to coordinate a cleanup in the Town that is pretty barren right now and isolated from the world, except for a handful (3 families) of residents that remain. We’ll be registering volunteers at 9am near the former Coddington Gas Station, just down the street from the St. Ignatius Cemetery.

We are looking for dozens of volunteers for the cleanup that will help EPCAMR to set the wheels in motion for a possible future historical interpretive project that we’re considering for the Town, if we can get the State behind us. Hear stories from the EPCAMR Executive Director on his internship days with the PA DEP some 20 years ago, as he monitored around the Town for mine gases in one of the Churches and along the coal banks that were on fire in the Buck Mountain Vein. Get a chance to meet the Director of the short film on Centralia that has been just recently released. Hear more on a full length documentary on Centralia that Joe is beginning to work on too.

An IndieGoGo fundraising effort is going to go live to assist us with funds for supplies, refreshments for the volunteers, water, tools, and to assist with paying for dumpsters and some wildflower seeds for the areas that we will be cleaning up. IF YOU DONATE, there are SWAG gifts in return, so please check out the link. EPCAMR is committing $700 towards the effort up front, plus Staff and other resources. http://vimeo.com/104065441

We have permission from one of the property owners (Pagnotti Enterprises) to place a dumpster on their property near the Odd Fellows Cemetery at the one cleanup location and we are actively working on securing permission from Blaschok Coal Company to place a dumpster in another area that can be seen in our Vimeo Cleanup Centralia Project video.

Follow the link on Facebook to join the effort as an EPCAMR Volunteer! https://www.facebook.com/events/628137517302486/?ref=22&source=1

Simon Wrubel Jr., from Nanticoke, joins EPCAMR as a Seasonal Trail Marker, a Native to the Southern Wyoming Valley

EPCAMR has filled the last of it’s three  seasonal temporary outdoor field positions to assist one of our partners, the Earth Conservancy, with maintaining signage, clearing brush, spray painting existing trail markings of various levels of difficulty with different colored spray paint on several publicly accessible trails in the Wyoming Valley over the next month or two. Coordination will be provided by the EC and EPCAMR Staff at the trail locations as to the direction and pre-existing conditions of the low-impact trails and more heavily used vehicle trails.

Simon Wrubel Jr., from Nanticoke, PA is another one of those seasonal Trail Markers that has been hired by EPCAMR this week to work with the other Staff on the trails. Simon is very familiar with maintenance work, landscaping, and building and grounds maintenance. He works at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in the Maintenance Department and is responsible for performing routine maintenance and preventative maintenance on the airport terminal building, airplane hangars, firehouse, and parking garage. He takes care of lawn care, snow removal, concrete/pavement work on approximately 800 acres of land. His past work experience includes work as a Maintenance Technician for the Children’s Service Center, Wilkes-Barre, and as a Maintenance Supervisor for Freeland Village Associates, Freeland, PA and many other maintenance related jobs in the region.

Simon Wrubel Jr. joins EPCAMR as the newest Seasonal Trail Marker for the Summer.

Simon Wrubel Jr. joins EPCAMR as the newest Seasonal Trail Marker for the Summer.

Simon is an active Interior Firefighter for the Nanticoke Fire Department and has been working for them since August of 2005. He knows the southern part of the Wyoming Valley like the back of his hand and has been on many calls to these lands in his career. His knowledge of the local area and familiarity with people who may be on the trails at the same time should prove helpful should the Trail Markers run into anyone or any suspicious activities while they are conducting the trail maintenance.

Simon also has been a volunteer coach for the Nanticoke Junior Trojans Mini-Football Team along with EPCAMR’s Executive Director, Robert E. Hughes, for many years. His son and Robert’s son, has played on the same team since they were 7 years old.

He’ll  be joined by Elizabeth Rosser, EPCAMR’s Watershed Outreach Specialist Intern, and Gabby Zawacki, EPCAMR Trail Marker, and former Community Outreach Coordinator Intern, in the field.

Robert stated, “He came in at 9am on Tuesday morning, went through the interview process, and by 11am, he was meeting the other EPCAMR Staff in Mocanaqua, PA to hit the trails for a few hours to get off to a good start.” I’ve known Simon for nearly 10 years and found him to be a very reliable friend, someone who puts his community first, and just being a firefighter alone, aside from his other jobs, tells me a lot about his character. He puts his life on the line everyday when the fire bell rings. I’m glad to have someone with his integrity on the EPCAMR Staff, even if it’s only for this seasonal job. He’s a great guy who is already getting along real well with the other Staff in the field.”

 

EPCAMR wants our Seasonal Trail Markers to be very careful of the steep ridges, especially along the Mocanaqua Loop Trail and they should pay specific attention and use caution around wildlife habitats such as possible bear dens and snake areas. EPCAMR expects that pictures will be taken of the trail activities on a daily basis and of natural areas, scenic overlooks, and various points of interest or plants and wildlife along the trails. The EPCAMR Trail Markers will be wearing appropriate clothes and shoes/hiking boots and socks be worn for any trail hiking and will be prepared for quick changes in weather by bringing rain gear, if necessary.  Hydration and energy are also keys to successful hiking. The trails to be marked are as follows on maps that will be provided:

 

The Mocanaqua Loop Trails              

  1. Emergency Access Route
  2. Green Loop (8 miles)
  3. Blue Loop (7 miles)
  4. Brown Loop (6 miles)
  5. Orange Loop (2 miles)

 

The Sugar Notch Trails 

1.         Ridgetop Trail (3.06 miles)

2.         Park Access Trail (0.64 miles)

 

The Penobscot Ridge Mountain Bike Trail (1.6 miles)

 

Trail Descriptions and links to the maps from the Earth Conservancy website  

www.earthconservancy.org )

http://earthconservancy.org/html/mocanaqua_trails.html 

http://earthconservancy.org/Moc_Loop_Map.jpg (Mocanaqua Loop Trails Map)

http://earthconservancy.org/html/sugar_notch_trails.html

http://earthconservancy.org/Sugar_Notch_Map.jpg (Sugar Notch Trails Map)

http://earthconservancy.org/html/penobscot_bike_trail.html

http://earthconservancy.org/Penobscot_Map.jpg (Penobscot Ridge Mountain Bike Trail Map)

Update on the Mine Map Processing Project

Our team has successfully completed scanning 6,179 maps from PA DEP Wilkes-Barre Office’s basement storage area!

Dave Svab and Samantha Schafer have been diligently scanning these maps over the past few months.  During that time Kelsey Biondo has  geo-referenced 1,000 and digitized about 50 maps using ArcGIS.  500 of these maps will eventually be digitized.

This project is being conducted to process and preserve mine maps from the coal regions of Pennsylvania.  These maps are scanned at 400 DPI resolution into an electronic form for archival purposes.  The digital raster maps are sent to the PA DEP California District Mining Office for review and conversion to MrSID format, which compresses the images to 1/20 th of their original size.  MrSID files can be used by our staff in highly efficient computer applications like ArcGIS to be georeferenced, which gives them coordinates and to line up with aerial photos and topographic maps.  Then the files are sent back to the state and displayed online at www.minemaps.psu.edu.  Lastly, 4 layers are digitized from these maps or made into vector information.  Digitized layers include the map boundary, the underground mine boundary, mine entry points and coal vein elevation points.  These digitized layers will also be available for view online and downloadable for use in programs like ArcGIS.

The main goal of this project is to create a digital database where citizens and businesses can find their properties, view what is in the ground underneath and determine whether mine subsidence insurance is necessary.

Our team will now be moving to process maps from the Pottsville DEP Offices.  We will be scanning approximately 2,000 maps, geo-referencing 1,000 maps, and digitizing 300 maps.  Then it’s back to Wilkes-Barre to process the maps on the 5th floor.

Samantha stated earlier today, “We are very excited to move on to the next step and after completing almost 7,000 maps, 2,000 doesn’t seem that bad!”  Kelsey, on the other hand, is ready to geo-reference again after digitizing for nearly 3 months.

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