Watershed Restoration

Impact on Water: Three Pennsylvania Examples

Spanning three generations and seven decades, the Mellon family has long supported efforts to conserve land, water, and wildlife, preserving millions of acres of habitat and restoring and protecting hundreds of thousands of miles of wetlands, streams, and rivers.  In addition to positive ecological impacts, these endeavors have had significant economic impact, increasing recreational tourism and land values in the region, particularly during the last two decades.


​Loyalhanna Creek Watershed

Almost a half century ago, the Richard King Mellon Foundation began to support efforts to protect and restore one of the Laurel Highlands' most important stream systems, Loyalhanna Creek.  Flowing from the slopes of Laurel Ridge, the creek meanders northwest, cuts through Chestnut Ridge, and progresses to its confluence with the Conemaugh River near Saltsburg, where the two combine to form the Kiskiminetas River, a tributary of the Allegheny River.  With a grant of $2,000 in 1973, the Foundation began to assist local citizens by underwriting studies so they could better understand threats to the stream and lay groundwork to enhance water quality and habitat.  Early studies revealed that, although much of the watershed is covered with forests and fields, the stream was degraded by abandoned acid mine drainage, excess nutrients, and sedimentation from erosion.  The Loyalhanna Water Association was founded to address these challenges.  The Foundation has supported the group's work with partners such as Trout Unlimited, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the PA Fish and Boat Commission, to implement 75 riparian restoration projects and build a passive treatment facility near Latrobe that treats 500 gallons per minute of acid mine drainage. As a result, this scenic creek is now swimmable and offers wonderful fishing.  Work continues, but the stream is significantly cleaner than it was in the 1960s.


West Branch

The West Branch of the Susquehanna begins in the Allegheny Mountains in western Pennsylvania and flows for 243 miles to its confluence with the North Branch in central Pennsylvania to form the mighty Susquehanna River.  Scenic and historically significant as a major transportation corridor to the west, by the middle of the 20th century the West Branch was so degraded by industrial pollution, sewage, drainage from coal mines, and poor agricultural practices that it barely supported life.  In 1984, testing on the Susquehanna River near Karthaus, Pennsylvania saw a pH of 3.9, aluminum loading of 18 tons per day, and iron loading of 26 tons per day.  A toxic swill.  Unsurprisingly, fish surveys in the early 1990s found only fourteen fish representing a mere three species.

Appalled by the degradation and undeterred by the challenge, twenty years ago the Foundation established a partnership with Trout Unlimited that led to a full-fledged restoration program for the West Branch.  Aspiration combined with perseverance over the last two decades transformed the river from a conduit for pollution to a living ecosystem with a wide variety of aquatic organisms.  Today the pH has increased to 6.5 (more than 100x less acidic), the aluminum levels have decreased by 87% , and iron concentrations by 70%.  The number of fish species has increased five-fold and tributaries that were dead are now fishable.  Two restored streams, Babb Creek and Sterling Run are now reclassified as Wild Trout Fisheries.  An economic analysis completed a decade ago found that cleaning up the river and tributaries will result in at least an additional $23 million flowing into the region each year for fishing-related activities (based on 2006 dollars) and that the property along improved stream segments would see its value increase by approximately $2,600 per acre.  So, the improvements have had significant ecological and economic impacts.


French Creek

For the last two decades, the Foundation has invested in programs and projects to protect northwestern Pennsylvania's French Creek.  With its headwaters in Chautauqua County, NY, the creek flows for 117 miles through four Pennsylvania counties to its confluence in the Allegheny River at Franklin, PA.  Named by George Washington when he canoed its icy waters in December 1753 in dugouts that he borrowed from French soldiers, it remains one of the most biologically diverse streams in the northeastern United States.  With 90 species of fish and 28 species of freshwater mussels, it represents a biological treasure chest, providing habitat for fish and freshwater mussels that Washington would have seen 265 years ago.  Few rivers and streams can lay a similar claim.  Because if this biodiversity, The Nature Conservancy listed French Creek as one of "The Last Great Places" in the United States.

The Foundation's investments in the watershed have supported three major activities - public education and outreach, so that people understand the value of the resource; stream restoration activities to improve those tributaries and parts of the main stem that have been degraded; and land protection, particularly of riparian areas, that help insulate the stream from non-point source pollution.  The approach in French Creek watershed is collaborative, including non-profit partners, conservation districts, academic institutions, and landowners.  The term "conservation through cooperation" best describes this effort.

Unlike many streams in the Commonwealth, French Creek is healthy.  The Foundation's investment have aimed to keep it that way, paying particular attention to supporting programs that engage the people who live in the watershed.  As a result, those who live there have erected signs on bridges that cross the creek that declare "French Creek: A Community Treasure."  Their recognition of and commitment to this ecological gem is critical to its ongoing health.



2017

A Foundation grant of $650,000 over two years to American Rivers is supporting river restoration in 11 key western Pennsylvania landscapes identified in the Foundation's conservation blueprint, developed in conjunction with National Fish and Wildlife Foundation It is also supporting work in the Flint River watershed in Georgia.  In Pennsylvania, efforts will help remove at least six dams and replace key road culverts that inhibit the natural movement of fish and other aquatic species.  Work in Georgia is focusing on implementing at least two green infrastructure projects and to develop a strategy to ensure ecological flows in the Flint River that support fish and other species, and to implement water conservation and efficiency programs with local water authorities.


Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, with a Foundation grant of $375,000 over two years, is continuing  its expansive restoration and education efforts, which include: public education initiatives, volunteer engagement in tree-planting and other projects, design of storm water management facilities using green infrastructure, ongoing run-off monitoring, and developing a joint forest management plan to mitigate storm flows within the watershed.


To continue its essential watershed restoration efforts, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) received a $1,000,000 grant from the Foundation (payable over three years) that is supporting its work in 14 Pennsylvania counties in the Susquehanna River basin, where the organization is working with farmers to implement best management practices on 3,000 acres of farmland, conduct education programs, plant trees, and develop materials to assist landowners with management activities.  CBF also is developing 100 conservation/erosion control plans and is joining with conservation districts and other entities to develop two watershed implementation plans.  Overall, CBF estimates these efforts will decrease excess nitrogen flows by 70,000 pounds, excess phosphorus loading by 1,000 pounds, and excess sediment runoff by more than 2.5 million pounds.


The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds received a $450,000 grant from the Foundation, enabling it to continue its watershed restoration efforts with a focus on 11 key landscapes in western Pennsylvania.  Efforts will restore 250 acres of abandoned mine lands, 50 miles of acid mine-impacted streams, and replant 4,500 feet of riparian areas.  Funding also will support the development of detailed datasets of stream systems in five of the Foundation's priority landscapes.


The Foundation provided a two-year grant of $725,000 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for work on French Creek, one of the most biologically diverse streams in the northeastern United States.  The funds support collaboration among a coalition of groups working in the watershed to raise public awareness and to promote stream restoration.  Approximately two-thirds of funding is dedicated to protecting critical riparian lands along the creek in order to help preserve its exceptional biodiversity.



2016

In ongoing efforts to improve the quality of the region's water resources, the Foundation awarded a $600,000 grant to 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. to develop a formalized timeline and process for Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to take ownership of trunk lines for 83 different municipalities and adopt a new governance structure, as well as a web-based tool and associated technical assistance, enabling municipalities to develop a common defensible ordinance that promotes green infrastructure and source reduction.


The Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to Growth Through Energy and Community Health, Inc. (now rebranded as Grounded) to develop and apply a comprehensive green storm water infrastructure strategy in neighborhoods that the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority identified as high priorities for reducing storm flows, combined sewage overflows, and flooding.


A grant of $375,000 to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds supported the organization's efforts to restore 150 acres of mine land, 10 miles of acid mine-impacted streams, and 1,250 feet of riparian buffers.  The funding also provided technical assistance and other support to 15 watershed organizations.


The Foundation made a grant of $700,000 to Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania to restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat on agricultural and forest lands in western Pennsylvania.  At the time of the grant, Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania had completed 464 miles of stream bank restoration, created 4,350 acres of wetlands, and nearly 6,000 acres of early successional forest and other habitat for woodcock, grouse, golden winged warblers, and other species.


As part of a two-year $550,000 grant, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council engaged 140 volunteers, planted 7,100 trees, and helped to restore abandoned mine land in one the Foundation's focal geographies.  It also continued work on the adoption of green infrastructure to address combined sewage overflow in Allegheny County and worked with a coalition of groups to minimize the environmental impacts of unconventional gas development, including impacts on headwater streams.


As part of a $2.3 million dollar grant for land and watershed protection efforts, including the purchase and protection of key parcels in Fayette and Somerset counties and the continued implementation of its urban tree program, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's watershed team restored nearly ten miles of stream bank and in-stream habitat, completed 23 best management practice reviews on farms, planted 25 acres of trees along streambanks , and became certified by the North American Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative for future aquatic habitat work.

2015

A Foundation grant of $375,000 over two years supported the work of Nine Mile Run Watershed Association to implement storm water management projects in Homewood, including one major project on Rosedale Street, as well as install monitoring equipment that tracks improvements in water flow and quality.

2014

A grant of $600,000 from the Foundation provided 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. with funding to promote sustainable municipal compliance with governmental consent orders for the region's sewer system.  The support helped municipalities in two major sub-basins - Girty Run and 9 Mile Run - transfer much of their underground infrastructure to Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, establishing a process for other towns to follow.


Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania was awarded a $725,000 grant to restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat on agricultural lands in Pennsylvania.  As of the date of the grant, this organization had restored 433 miles of stream bank, created 4,200 acres of wetlands, and protected 4,755 acres of early successional forest habitat for woodcock, grouse, and golden winged warblers.  Biologists monitoring past projects note that important species are recolonizing the improved habitats.


A Foundation grant of $600,000 over two years to Trout Unlimited supported ongoing clean-up of an abandoned mine and stream restoration efforts - begun in 2004 - across the West Branch Susquehanna watershed.  The decade of work has resulted in a nearly normal pH of 6.5, decreased aluminum and iron concentration levels, and increased fish species and populations.



Completion of eight stream restoration projects over 18 months in the Loyalhanna watershed was made possible by a Foundation grant of $50,000 to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association.


A Foundation grant of $50,000 to the Brentwood Economic Development Corporation supported development of a watershed stewardship program for the Saw Mill Run Watershed, in which the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority implemented a green infrastructure.  The funding also supported development of an app that enabled interns, volunteers, and staff to identify areas suitable for green infrastructure, as well as review property ownership in the corridor, so that its education and outreach efforts could focus on key property owners whose sites were identified as needing improvements.


A Foundation grant of $80,000 enabled Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. (PCSI) to implement green infrastructure projects to reduce the effects for storm water run-off throughout the 15206 zip code, which includes the Highland Park/Penn Avenue area of north Pittsburgh.  PSCI, in collaboration with other entities, is developing storm water rain gardens along Negley Run Boulevard and near Lincoln Avenue and Frankstown Road.  Both projects reduced storm water run-off in the surrounding community.


A Foundation grant of $725,000 evenly over two years to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds supported ongoing efforts to improve water quality within western Pennsylvania watersheds.  Funding helped to restore 200 acres of mine lands, 25 miles of streams impacted by acid mine runoff, and 1,500 linear feet of stream-side habitat, as well as provided technical support to a dozen community watershed groups.


A grant of $250,000 over two years from the Foundation to the Clearwater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania enabled the organization to restore wild eastern brook trout habitat, install stream bank fencing, remove invasive plants, and plant native trees in several watersheds, including Spring Creek, Spruce Creek, Little Fishing Creek, and Penns Creek.


Susquehanna University received a Foundation grant of $2,250,000 over three years to create a Freshwater Institute, a nationally recognized research hub that uses the Susquehanna River to study freshwater systems and fosters collaboration among regional academic institutions to monitor and understand the upper river.  In addition to assessing water quantity and quality issues, faculty and students monitor keys species in the river and its tributaries, identify pollution sources, and study the impact of stream improvements.


A two-year grant of $700,000 for land and watershed conservation allowed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's watershed team to stabilize 36,000 feet of stream banks, 22,600 feet of gravel roads, and install 452 best management practices.  It also planted 59 acres of trees, primarily in riparian areas.  It participated in one of the largest freshwater mussel relocation projects in the nation in response to threats imposed by bridge replacements on the Allegheny River, began a new program to replace culverts in order to allow fish passage, including eastern brook trout, and formed a partnership with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to begin an aggressive riparian tree planting program, aiming for 95,000 arces over the next decade.



2013

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) was the recipient of a one-year $220,000 grant from the Foundation to continue its work with a number of partner organizations to nurture long-term protection of the exceptionally biodiverse French Creek.  Later the same year, the Foundation fulfilled a request from WPC for a $300,000 grant to support the French Creek collaborative for watershed restoration land protection and public education of French Creek, a tributary to the Allegheny River.  In addition to leveraging additional funding for the restoration efforts, the collaborative protected an additional 1,200+ acres through easements and land purchases, produced a new website and public education videos, and assisted with a conservation plan for the Erie National Wildlife Refuge located within the watershed.


A Foundation grant of $275,000 over two years to the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association supported the organization's run-off mitigation project (by installing rain barrels for run-off and planting trees), watershed monitoring, and efforts to improve public programs and funding for green infrastructure.


A Foundation grant of $300,000 over two years to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) enabled the organization to continue its ongoing survey of unassessed cold water streams in Pennsylvania to determine if they are home to important and threatened trout species.  Since the original Foundation grant was awarded in 2011, the NFWF's partner organization, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, had discovered that more than 3,500 streams covering 12,800 miles did indeed support wild trout.  These streams receive a heightened level of protection, so that road building, stream crossings, and other development in the watershed must be done with great care.


A Foundation grant of $750,000 evenly over 30 months to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation allowed the group to expand its Pennsylvania Watershed Restoration Program's outreach and technical assistance efforts to farmers and landowners in six additional counties - Blair, Center, Franklin, Mifflin, Snyder, and Union - in which runoff is particularly high.  These endeavors improved 40 farms, restored 70 acres of wetlands, and added 330 acres of forested buffers, which resulted in annual pollution reductions to the Susquehanna River and its tributaries of 244,000 pounds of excess nitrogen, 45,000 pounds of excess phosphorus, and 1,258 tons of sediment.


Again in 2013, the Foundation awarded a grant of $400,000 to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds (FPW), allowing FPW to continue its endeavors to improve water quality in the region by restoring 35 acres of acid mine lands, 15 miles of streams degraded by acid mine drainage, and 1,500 feet of riparian buffers to reduce erosion.  Funding also supported 15 convening programs to promote watershed education and science, and enabled FPW to upgrade its technology and complete a new strategic plan. 


A Foundation grant of $300,000 evenly over two years to the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA) enabled the organization to purchase monitoring equipment, including microscopes and outside lab work, needed to evaluate stream quality.  In addition, working with the Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, MWA addressed the Marsulino acid mine drainage site on Indian Creek and restored 2,000 feet of stream bank in Shupe Run and another 2,500 feet of severely eroded stream bank along Jacobs Creek.

2012

The Foundation provided a grant of $350,000 to 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. to continue endeavors to develop a collaborative, cooperative storm water and sewage infrastructure program for the region that is affordable and environmentally sound.


Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania was awarded a grant of $600,000 to continue its nationally recognized habitat restoration program.  This grant enabled the group to fence 25 miles of stream, while also restoring 500 acres of upland, 200 acres of early successional habitat, and 500 acres of wetlands.


Ongoing funding to Trout Unlimited - $600,000 over two years - supported the ongoing work of Phase IV to restore the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.


A Foundation grant of $42,000 to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) supported a three-year effort to assist in research and development of a long-term water management strategy for the upper Ohio River system.  A second Foundation grant of $100,000 in June to CMU, internationally ranked for its robotics programs, enabled the university to refine and deploy low-cost "waterbots" to monitor water quality, initially in Pennsylvania and, over time, in other locations.



2011

The Foundation provided a multi-year grant of $800,000 to 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. to continue its efforts to develop a practical, cost-effective management model for the Allegheny County Sewage System and to engage a consulting team to help integrate green solutions in wet weather plans in the Pine Creek watershed.


A Foundation grant of $500,000 over two years to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy supported a multi-organizational public partnership to further land and water protection in the French Creek watershed, which hosts and exceptionally high level of biodiversity, including 90 species of fish and 28 species of freshwater mussels, some of which are endangered.


The Trustees awarded the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) a grant of $225,000 over two years to assess Pennsylvania streams, particularly headwaters, which often have high biodiversity and provide habitat to important trout species, such as the Eastern Brook Trout.  NFWF worked in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to engage universities and other qualified organizations in surveying hundreds of previously unassessed cold water streams in Pennsylvania.


A Foundation grant of $190,000 to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association supported three stream restoration projects that improved water quality in Loyalhanna Creek - one each above and below the former Ligonier Beach and one below Peters Road Bridge.


In 2011, the Foundation also awarded a grant of $675,000 over two years to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds (FPW), which used the funds to mitigate acid mine drainage and other sources of pollution, as well as restore 25 miles of streams affected by acid mine drainage and 15,000 feet of riparian land.  FPW also engaged 7,000 people in watershed protection efforts.

2010

Trout Unlimited was the recipient of a Foundation grant of $600,000 over two years, which supported Phase IV of the West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Initiative.  Indicators of the project's success to date include a near normal pH of 6.4, decreased aluminum and iron loading, and the presence of 16 species of fish and more than 420 individual fish.  In addition, segments of two restored streams - Babb Creek and Sterling Run - have been reclassified as wild trout fisheries.


A Foundation grant of $80,000 over two years to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association enabled it to continue to protect land, improve water quality, promote community collaboration, and educate the public about the value of regional resources.


The Foundation awarded a grant of $260,000 over two years to the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association that supported education and outreach, as well as development of a storm water management service that helped the organization generate income and diversify its funding base for future projects.


A grant of $750,000 over two years from the Foundation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) supported efforts to improve the water quality of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams by implementing agricultural best management practices in Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania's Bradford and Lancaster counties.  In total, CBF implemented best management practices on 70 farms, restored 35 miles of forested stream buffers, and reestablished 100 acres of wetlands.  In addition, the group began to work toward permanent agriculture easements on some of the farms.


A two-year grant of $700,000 to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council was used to continue watershed restoration efforts in the upper Allegheny River and to create a series of river trails and maps, including for French and Loyalhanna creeks.  These, combined with new canoe and kayak access sites, help to reconnect people to their local rivers and streams.  It also supported efforts to promote the use of green infrastructure in Allegheny County communities to improve water quality and meet federal and state requirements to reduce combined sewer overflow.


A Foundation grant of $225,000 over three years to Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative provided operating support that furthered efforts to bring whitewater rafting to Cambria County, an economically distressed area.  Funding supported construction of a whitewater park in Johnstown, a water release system at the Quemahoning Reservoir to ensure adequate river flow during peak rafting times, and community assistance to make area towns boater-friendly.


As part of a $700,000 grant for land and watershed protection, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's watershed team provided assistance to 120 groups and 49 farmers.  It installed 253 best management practices, and restored 251 miles of streams.  It also developed conservation plans for key watersheds on the Allegheny Front and Lake Erie.

2009

With a business plan in place, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. received a $600,000 grant from the Foundation to develop a practical, cost-effective management model for the Allegheny County sewer system.  The funding also helped educate citizens about improving water quality, as well as attracted and optimized local, state, and federal funding to upgrade the wastewater treatment system.


The Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania was awarded a $900,000 grant to continue improving Pennsylvania's farmland wildlife habitat and water quality.  Since 1996, this program has successfully fenced 345 miles of stream bank, restored over 3,410 acres of wetlands, planted over 5,520 acres of warm season grasses, and completed more than 400 acres of boarder edge cuts to provide cover and habitat for farmland wildlife.


A Foundation grant of $40,000 to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association supported the organization's continued efforts to improve water quality and protect land within the watershed, as well as further community education endeavors around its environmental issues.


Again in 2009, the Foundation awarded a grant to the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.  Funding in the amount of $29,000 supported repairs to Nine Mile Run's stream banks, which suffered significant storm damage on June 17th, when nearly five inches of rain fell in a six-hour period.  The restoration project used larger stones with better placement to ensure that future storms do not inflict the same level of damage.


A Foundation grant of $300,000 to the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds advanced the organization's  efforts to develop a management and governance support center for community watershed organizations (CWOs) to assist them with scientifically-based conservation plans, as well as address needs for marketing, financial management, fundraising, membership and volunteer development, technology, and other services.  A second grant of $600,000, payable over two years, enabled the organization to continue to assist CWOs with grants to support projects that address acid mine drainage, eliminate non-point pollution from farms, re-establish stream buffers, and improve cold water fisheries, as well as support educational programs that raise public awareness about the value of the state's natural resources.


A Foundation grant of $48,000 to the Mountain Watershed Association (MWA) supported efforts to digitize and develop a data model for stream restoration in the Indian Creek Watershed, resulting in an innovative web-based model of the watershed that serves as a model for other stream restorations. A second grant in 2009 from the Foundation to MWA in the amount of $250,000 ($125,000 paid in 2009 and $125,000 paid in 2010) enabled the organization to further its efforts to clean up acid mine drainage sites in the Indian Creek watershed and engage in a new cooperative program to clean up sites in the Jacobs Creek watershed.

2008

A Foundation grant of $500,000 over two years enabled Trout Unlimited to continue its leadership role in the West Branch Susquehanna Initiative and helped leverage additional funding from other sources.


As part of an $800,000 grant for land and watershed protection efforts, the Foundation provided two years of support to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to continue its stream restoration efforts.  With the funds, the group's watershed program conducted 200 stream stabilization projects and assisted 33 organizations with 85 different projects.  As part of the effort, it implemented 176 best management practices on streams and in farmyards, stabilized 11 miles of dirt and gravel roads, replaced 11 failing septic systems, installed three acid mine drainage systems, and planted 650 acres of upland habitat with warm season grass.

2007

A grant of $500,000 from the Foundation to the 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc. promoted cooperation and collaboration among municipalities and various agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, to help communities remediate untreated sewage and storm water overflow into the region's waterways, improving the quality of the region's water resources.


A Foundation grant of $600,000 payable over three years to American Rivers supported the organization's ongoing efforts to remove dams and restore rivers in western Pennsylvania.  Such efforts provide communities with economic, environmental, and public safety benefits.


The Foundation provided $600,000 over two years to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to engage communities in land and river trail development in the Ohio River basin, to support local economic development strategies that focused on rivers to increase ecotourism, and for stream restoration projects in the upper Allegheny River system.


The Foundation awarded a grant of $40,000 a year for two years to the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, which continued to build its constituency and financial support base, as well as engage in an increasingly wide array of collaborative endeavors benefitting watershed residents, landowners, the economy, and the environment.


A Foundation grant of $300,000, paid evenly over three years, to the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association supported Phase II of the rain barrel initiative launched in 2006.  Funding helped to underwrite the education of the public about watershed pollution, install 3,500 rain barrels, and monitor the impact of run-off at four demonstration sites within the watershed.


The Mountain Watershed Association received a Foundation grant of $150,000 that provided two years of operating support for this largely volunteer-run organization.  The funding enabled it to complete a treatment system for acid mine drainage (AMD) on the Kalp project, the largest contributor of AMD in the Indian Creek watershed.  Funding also supported the beginning of several new AMD treatment systems.

2006

A Foundation grant of $500,000 over two years to Trout Unlimited enabled the organization to continue its work as the lead catalyst in a major restoration effort to clean up abandoned mine drainage (AMD) in the West Branch Susquehanna watershed.  AMD is the largest source of pollution to Pennsylvania's waterways, and nearly one-third of the Commonwealth's AMD-impacted streams are located in the drainage of the West Branch Susquehanna River.  The watershed also contains the highest concentration of public lands in the mid-Atlantic region, rendering it a popular destination for outdoor recreation, so the restoration enhances ecotourism in the region.


The Nine Mile Run Association received a Foundation grant of $100,000 that supported the development and launch of a rain barrel initiative to divert storm water run-off and the resulting pollutants, preventing them from flowing into Nine Mile Run Creek, which runs from Regent Square in Pittsburgh into the Monongahela River.


A $1,500,000 grant over three years to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supported restoration of 400 miles of forested buffers and created 800 acres of new wetlands, helping to clean Pennsylvania rivers, including the Susquehanna, that contribute to major pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.


A Foundation grant of $140,000 to the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy supported engineering and design of a release system for the Quemahoning Dam, a 12-billion gallon, 900-acre reservoir that once served Bethlehem Steel.  The new release system better regulates water flow, provides increased whitewater for rafting, and offers the depressed area an economic boost.

2005

American Rivers received a Foundation grant of $200,000 for a two-year period to support dam removal throughout Pennsylvania to improve watersheds, promote positive changes to the affected waterways and the species that depend on them, and provide the impetus for wider ecosystem restoration efforts.


A Foundation grant of $150,000 over two years to Mountain Watershed Association enabled the organization to further its remediation efforts to the Indian Creek Watershed caused by discharges from abandoned mines, educate the community about these issues, and engage state and other officials in addressing residents' concerns.


The Foundation provided the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) $415,000 over two years for continued work in the upper Ohio River watershed, including the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Beaver rivers.  With the funds, PEC reached out to 70 communities in eight counties as it finalized a River Conservation Plan for the Three Rivers Region.  It also continued to engage hundreds of urban youth in the outdoors through river exploration.

2004

A Foundation grant of $250,000 per year for two years to Trout Unlimited supported the organization's ongoing watershed restoration work on Kettle Creek and launched a much larger restoration effort in the West Branch Susquehanna River.


The Loyalhanna Watershed Association received a Foundation grant of $40,000 for operating support, including watershed education.


The Foundation reinvested in the successful efforts of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to restore streambanks and to implement best management practices on farms.  A $150,000 two-year grant allowed the group to conduct this work along Loyalhanna Creek, Sideling Hill Creek, Shenango River, the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, Bob's Creek, and French Creek.

2003

By 2003, the Loyalhanna Watershed Association (LWA) had a relationship with the Foundation that had already spanned three decades.  That year, LWA increased its membership from the previous year by almost 29 percent.  A Foundation grant of $40,000 helped the organization implement a new strategic plan with concentrated efforts in four distinct areas: water quality protection, land conservation, education, and membership and community outreach.


A $500,000 grant from the Foundation to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supported the organization's Pennsylvania Watershed Restoration Program, which endeavors to improve the water quality and wildlife habitat of the state's waterways through significant and targeted restoration of forest riparian buffers and wetlands. This grant catalyzed the restoration of 244 miles of buffers and 976 acres of wetlands.  By leveraging state and federal funds, each dollar provided through this grant yielded nearly $18 in conservation benefits.


Foundation for California University of Pennsylvania was awarded $750,000 to expand its farmland habitat restoration and watershed conservation project. The program had evolved into one of the national significance, touted by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior as a model for public/private cooperation.


The Mountain Watershed Association received a Foundation grant of $70,000 over two years for operating support that enabled the organization to continue to implement its plan to remediate damage to the Indian Creek Watershed caused by abandoned acid mine drainage.


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy received a multi-year grant of $150,000 to continue its stream restoration activities in western Pennsylvania as well as to promote the protection of farmland in Ligonier Valley by purchasing easements.  The group focused much of its work on farms that it eventually protected with easements.

2002

A Foundation grant of $200,000 over two years supported American Rivers' efforts to remove dams from rivers in southwestern Pennsylvania that no longer served a purpose or whose costs outweighed their benefits.


The Pennsylvania Environmental Council received a two-year grant of $500,000 for the Ohio Headwaters initiative, a comprehensive strategy designed to restore, enhance, and protect natural amenities of the upper Ohio River Basin.  The program included working with 70 communities to formulate a strategy for river conservation.  The grant also supported the group's efforts in the French Creek watershed, where it was leading a "conservation through cooperation" approach to resource protection.

2001

The Foundation's trustees awarded a grant of $750,000 to The Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the Pennsylvania Watershed Restoration Program.  Funds were used to fence streams and to leverage Pennsylvania Growing Greener funds.


The Foundation awarded $750,000 to Foundation of California University of Pennsylvania to continue work on the farmland habitat restoration and watershed conservation program aimed at improving Pennsylvania's farmland, wildlife habitat, and the water quality of creeks and streams.


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy received a multi-year grant of $100,000 to initiate a river restoration program on streams and creeks in western Pennsylvania.  The projects were done in cooperation with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and California University of Pennsylvania.

2000

The Foundation provided $400,000 over two years to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council for its watershed protection efforts in western Pennsylvania, including its programs on French Creek and the upper Allegheny River system.  The grant supported a consortium of five conservation groups and Allegheny College, allowing them to work together to restore streams and rivers, particularly in the French Creek watershed.

1998

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council received $75,000 to develop an online interactive atlas of the Allegheny River watershed.  It also received $5,000 to implement a youth outdoor adventure program to get urban youth out on the region's rivers and streams.

1996

Foundation of California University of Pennsylvania received $750,000 to support its farmland habitat restoration and watershed conservation program, a stream and habitat restoration program to mitigate problematic agricultural sites.