As the organization that nominated the Allegheny River for the 2017 PA River of the Year Contest, Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, a registered 501-c-3 charitable organization serving the residents of eight northwestern PA Counties, received a $10,000 PA DCNR Leadership Grant to celebrate the River of the Year designation. Penn Soil RC&D has just released the final report of the Allegheny River of the Year Celebration this week to complete the requirements of the Pennsylvania River of the Year Contest. The yearlong celebration of the Allegheny River being designated the 2017 PA River of the Year was a busy year for Penn Soil RC&D staff and the hundreds of volunteers and numerous other organizations who partnered with Penn Soil to carry out the River of the Year Celebration.
“Since our organization serves an eight county region of northwest PA and we only have part time staff managing our projects, one of the challenges we faced was planning and carrying out the River of the Year Celebration for the entire Allegheny River which begins in Potter County and flows 325 miles to Pittsburgh, PA” said Wes Ramsey, Executive Director of Penn Soil RC&D. “Our strategy was to develop a River of the Year mini-grant program to offer up to $500 to other qualified charitable organizations and/or units of government to host local events on their stretch of the Allegheny River to thank the voters who had supported the Allegheny in the River of the Year Contest voting”, said Ramsey.
The response from other project partners was very good. Penn Soil RC&D received 12 mini grant applications and awarded funding to 11 event proposals which greatly added to the number of events Penn Soil could accomplish given its limited staffing. With the support of the great partnership that developed, Penn Soil was able to host or co-host a total of 24 separate days or events focused on the Allegheny River. These events attracted 1560 participants which were either educated about water quality and other benefits of the River to the community, or helped clean up the river by donating their time to plant riparian buffer trees and remove a total of 449 abandoned tires, 105 cubic yards of trash, and 5,350 pounds of recyclable metal and steel to improve water quality, public safety, and the overall health of the river.
River of the Year Celebration events were held in Potter, McKean, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, Crawford, and Allegheny Counties. The events or projects eligible for the mini grant funding had to meet the following criteria: The project must take place in the state of PA and provide educational, recreational, or environmental benefits focused on the Allegheny River resources. The event must be scheduled and held between the dates of May 1, 2017 and November 6, 2017. Examples of eligible projects included educational sojourns, paddling or float trip events, water safety programs, public access area improvements, stream cleanup projects, establishment of riparian buffers, erosion control projects, control of invasive species, fishing derbies, educational programs, water quality monitoring training, etc. Grant funds reimbursed by Penn Soil RC&D must be matched dollar for dollar with either cash from other sources, documented volunteer time or a combination of cash and in kind paid or volunteer time.
A total of 3046 hours of volunteer time was reported for all River of the Year Celebration events. For the purposes of the River of the Year Grants, volunteer time is valued at $21.25 per hour generating $64,727.50 of in-kind match to the River of the Year Leadership Grant. Combining the value of volunteer time and cash & donated services by other event partners, the $10,000 DCNR 2017 PA River of the Year Leadership grant generated a total of $92,337.40 in cash & in-kind match to help bring awareness and stewardship of the Allegheny River to western Pennsylvania. View the entire River of the Year Grant report for more information by clicking on this link.