News from the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landcape

At PEC, we firmly believe in conservation through collaboration. One way we practice this motto is through the bi-monthly publication of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape (LHCL) E-newsletter that reaches more than seven hundred individuals. We write this e-newsletter to tell the stories of the Landscape to promote partnership and inspire participation.

Content for the e-newsletter reflects the mission of the LHCL, which is to support the region’s premier outdoor recreation and heritage areas through strategic planning and project implementation, to foster stewardship, and to protect the region’s unique natural and man-built environments as the means to a sustainable regional economy.

Information shared in the e-newsletter is gathered from a wide range of stakeholders and community partners and features stories related to;

  • Trail development,
  • Parks and outdoor recreation,
  • Cultural/historic assets,
  • Land and water conservation,
  • Grant opportunities,
  • Meetings and conferences,
  • And regional events that share the goals of the Landscape.

If you would like to contribute, please contact Laura Bray at [email protected] to share your story, or follow the link below to sign up for the e-newsletter.



June- July 2018
E – N E W S L E T T E R
In this Edition…
Funding Opportunities
Water Trails
Funding Opportunities
PA Water Trails Partnership Mini Grants


Mini grants are available for Pennsylvania’s water trail network, which includes 26 designated water trails that span more 2,100 miles of recreation opportunity. Grant requests are capped at $5,000 and require a 1:1 match.
The 2018 PA Water Trails Grant Application Forms are only available electronically. Please submit your completed form, a copy of your 501(c)3, and a BOC certificate to Lizzie Hessek at lhessek@pecpa.orgIf you have any questions, please contact Lizzie at (215) 545-4750 or by email.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship


National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is accepting proposals for the 2018 Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship that will award grants to restore and sustain healthy forests, wetlands, rivers, and streams that provide habitat for diverse native bird and freshwater fish populations. The Laurel Highlands is one of eleven focal geographies in Pennsylvania.
For more information about the RFP visit NFWF’s website.
Laurel Highlands Trail Summit 2018
Save the Date!


The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape presents
Ghost Towns to Boom Towns: Creating Healthy Economies & CommunitiesThrough Trails on Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 at Pour on Center and Amici’s Restorante in Ebensburg, PA.
Mark your calendars!
Quemahoning Lake Mountain Bike Trails Main Loop Funded


The main loop of the Quemahoning Lake Mountain Bike Trails is on schedule to be completed this year! The trail is being built to International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) standards.

Funding from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and the Conemaugh Township Rotary Club has enabled the construction of the 17-mile loop around the lake. Eleven miles are currently completed, and the remaining six miles of trail will be cleared and grated to appropriately divert rainwater.


The permitting process is underway for Phase II, which will add 17 miles of secondary loops to provide a challenge for intermediate and advanced cyclists, while the main loop will be suited for beginners. 
Indian Creek Valley Gorge Trail
Restoration Underway 


The 4.3 mile segment of the Indian Creek Valley Trail Gorge section is one of the best kept secrets in the Laurel Highlands. This trail is surrounded by forests, serving as home to some of the most exceptional natural diversity throughout the area.

The Mountain Watershed Association (MWA), home of the Youghiogheny Riverkeeper, has been working to refurbish the segment of trail for several years. Funding and permitting delays have resulted in the trail needing much more repair than was initially contemplated. 


MWA has begun to repair the Gorge Trail with existing funds. The goal is to have trail opened all the way to the Yough by the end of the summer. To learn more about this project or to make a donation, please visit the MWA website and review this handout.
Riders Connect All Three


9/11 National Memorial Locations
The September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance recently completed the first-ever bicycle ride, connecting the three 9/11 National Memorial locations. The group started at the Pentagon on April 11, rode the Great Allegheny Passage to Garrett, reached Berlin in Somerset County on April 14, and passed through Flight 93 National Memorial and Johnstown on April 15. 


The entire 23-day bike sojourn covered 1,300 miles and generated publicity about the trail and its efforts to “commemorate the tragic events of 9/11 and to celebrate what is best about America,” said Tom Baxter, the Alliance’s executive director.

For more information visit the September 11th National Memorial Trail website.

PennDot Awards Two Transportation Alternative Grants in LHCL
Two counties within the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape have been awarded funding from the recently announced Surface Transportation Block Grant Set-Aside or Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program to improve transportation alternatives and enhance mobility and public accessibility.
  • Derry Township Municipal Authority – $1,000,000 to construct a trail that will extend from Keystone State Park in Derry Township to the New Alexandria Borough Municipal Park.
  • Redevelopment Authority of Somerset County – $1,200,000 for Phase II-A of the Berlin Revitalization Project, including sidewalks, curbs, streets capes along a portion of the September 11th National Memorial Trail.

Read the full article to learn more.

Water Trails
Johnstown’s Whitewater Park
Celebrates Improvement


Phase II of the Whitewater Park in Johnstown was celebrated with a dedication ceremony on opening day of the annual Rendezvous on May 18. 


The $400,000 project fixed the lower feature of Stonycreek Whitewater Park and added restrooms to adjacent Greenhouse Park, where the Rendezvous is staged each year. 


Major funding was provided by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the R.K. Mellon Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Somerset County Tourism Grant Program, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, and private donations.
Johnstown’s Whitewater Park
Celebrates Improvements
Jacob’s Creek Watershed Association is celebrating the new boat launch in Scottdale with the Lazy River Family Friendly Float Day on June 16 from 12-4 PM.


Bring a raft, boat, canoe, kayak, tube, or anything that floats and join in a day of fun on the creek. Rentals and transportation are available.


More information and event tickets can be found here
Cast Your Ballet: 1% for the Plant
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy


The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy/Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team is one of five nominees to be awarded funds from Hairstory, a 1% for the Planet donor. The popular vote will determine which of the five gets the max award of $2500. It’s one vote per email address, so use them all. Voting closes tomorrow, May 31st at midnight.

Vote before it’s too late!
Johnstown’s Whitewater Park
Celebrates Improvements
Earlier this year, the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy(CVC) published the State of the Kiski-Conemaugh River Watershed document, which updates the original KC Rivers Conservation Plan published in 1999. It quantifies changes in the watershed since the 90s, provides a status report of the 120 recommendations made in the 1999 plan, and offers new recommendations. 


Funded largely by grants from the DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program and Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, the document is sub-titled “Community Shift” due to the change in species dominating fish communities in the Conemaugh and Kiski Rivers from those tolerant of pollution to those sensitive to it. The 500+ page document and accompanying 3-page Executive Summary may be downloaded from the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy’s website, found in the documents section under “State of the Kiski-Conemaugh.” 


The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy is selling chances to win either a Native Ultimate 12 fishing kayak, a Liquid Logic Recreation SUP Board, or $750 cash to benefit its Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team. Please contact Melissa Reckner at 814-444-2669 or [email protected] to secure your tickets!
We want to hear from you! If you have a story or an event that takes place within the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape that you want to share, contact Laura Bray at [email protected] or 412-481-9400.
PEC is proud to be the external lead to the DCNR Conservation Landscape Program in the Laurel Highlands.
Follow-up Links
To learn more about the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape or to get involved, email Marla Meyer Papernick or Kathy Frankel.