Snakes and salamanders, wildlife and watersheds, and brownfields with a green future comprise the five area environmental programs that have been named as the winners of the 2009 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards, announced yesterday by Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
These five programs address a wide range of local and regional environmental issues, including land and watershed conservation, wildlife protection and brownfield development and were chosen from entries submitted earlier this year. They include a student-run conservation group working to raise awareness of the environmental threat to reptiles; community initiatives to preserve and protect two major watersheds in Cambria and Indiana counties; the redevelopment of downtown Ambridge, which had been in decay after the decline of the steel industry; and a remarkable program that teaches private landowners the importance of creating wildlife sanctuaries.
With these awards, each winner will designate a $5000 cash prize to be used in support of a nonprofit environmental program of their choice.
The winners are:
-Bartramian Audubon Society Sanctuaries Program
-Northern Ambridge Redevelopment Project – New Brighton
-Stonycreek Conemaugh River Improvement Project – Johnstown
-TASOW, Inc. (The Awesome Spirit of Wildlife) – Slippery Rock
-Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Watershed Conservation Program – Blairsville
Additionally, Linda McKenna Boxx, the president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance and the driving force behind the creation of the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile trail connecting Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland., received the lifetime achievement award.
Ms. Boxx’s distinguished career includes public service positions in state government in both Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Her experience included a wide variety of positions in conservation, land use planning and the infancy of the rails-to-trails movement in Pennsylvania.
She has also served as the chairman of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, based in Latrobe, since 1982. In this capacity, Ms. Boxx has worked to provide support for a wide range of innovative programs including the remediation and protection of land and waterways, development of community and recreational facilities, rehabilitation of landmark buildings and a broad range of educational opportunities.
In 1993, she saw an opportunity to work with a number of regional trail groups in Western Pennsylvania and coordinate their local efforts into one large continuous trail connecting with the C&O Canal Towpath trail in Cumberland, Maryland, effectively creating a 335-mile continuous hiking and biking trail from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
The success of that work resulted in the Great Allegheny Passage, which is now nearly complete. All that remains is to finish a few miles of trail between McKeesport and downtown.
Every year thousands of people complete the Washington to Pittsburgh trail ride, including the hundreds of cyclists who last year participated in the week-long sojourn or the 24-hour relay ride as part of the “Pittsburgh 250” celebration.
Ms. Boxx also serves on a number of boards, including the Fallingwater Advisory Committee, the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.
She is a graduate of Bucknell University.
Dominion is fully committed to providing energy in a manner consistent with a clean environment. We believe it is both a good business practice and our duty to protect natural resources. In keeping with this belief, it is our policy to conduct our business in an environmentally responsible manner that protects the public, our employees and the earth that we all share.
Being environmentally responsible is more than corporate policy, it is people. Dominion employees have a national reputation for their volunteer work; much of it involving environmental protection or enhancement. Dominion has traditionally been a strong voice in regional education and has worked to strengthen learning in the sciences, math, and the environment. Through the Dominion Foundation,
donations are made to support projects and organizations that preserve and improve the quality of the environment in the communities where Dominion has operating or business interests.
Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 27,000 megawatts of generation, 1.2 trillion cubic feet equivalent of proved natural gas reserves and 14,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline. Dominion also operates the nation’s largest underground natural gas storage system with more than 975 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 12 states, including Pennsylvania. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s Web site at www.dom.com.
About the Pennsylvania Environmental Council
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) protects and restores the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
About the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards
The Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards recognizes and honors outstanding achievements of organizations, businesses, and individuals in a wide range of environmental initiatives throughout the region and pays tribute to those that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership, and accomplishment in their respective fields.
By sponsoring these awards, Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council hope to encourage the community to emulate the achievements of the successful nominees, thereby promoting innovative environmental efforts and enhancing the quality of life in Western Pennsylvania.
Contact: Sally Tarhi
Pennsylvania Environmental Council