The 15th Anniversary PA AMR Conference has been deemed a huge success by it’s Conference Planning Committee and from the written surveys of those who attended.
The Pre-Conference Workshop at the Civil Engineering Lodge in Stone Valley, sponsored by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), was exceptionally informative and provided tech savvy information from the Bayer Center for NonProfit Management’s Cindy Leonard, Consultant Team Leader at Robert Morris University, on how to utilize Social Media outlets like FaceBook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, websites, Tumblr, Flickr, Photobucket, Pinterest, and others to your advantage.
Mark Critz, President, Mark Critz LLC, Vice President National Sales-Print & Copy Center, and former US Congressman for the PA’s 12th Congressional District (2010-2013), that stretched from Johnstown, to the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh did an excellent job on educating those in attendance on how to establish relationships with Staffers from legislative offices at the State and Federal level to communicate our environmental issues with Congressmen and women, and Senators in PA.
Andy McAllister, WPCAMR Regional Coordinator gave a dramatic and theatrical presentation on legislative issues, normally a dry topic to expound upon, facing PA’s AMR Community from both the National, State, and Local perspective and rhetorically asked everyone, how are they going to approach these issues, proactively, or re-actively with a collective voice.
Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director provided each of the speakers with a small token of appreciation for their talks and insight, a commemorative 15th Anniversary PA AMR Conference magnet that was made out of EPCAMR’s “Yellow Boy” recycled iron oxide from an AMD passive treatment system in the region, coal ash from a Wyoming Valley home that still burns anthracite, and a regional clay from the Harvey’s Lake area of Luzerne County. The magnet was created by Skip Sensbach, Artist in Resident, with assistance in the design concept by EPCAMR, and his art students at Misericoridia Univeristy’s Art Department. The magnets were provided to all conference attendees as well on Friday and Saturday.
The Friday morning Keynote Address provided by Glenn RIder, PA DEP Bureau of Conservation and Restoration, highlighted the new bureau with his new mission of “getting dirty water off the dirty waters list” and that means AMD and other non-point source pollution across PA. He discussed funding opportunities, the Bureau’s goals related to AMD, their priorities, and acknowledged our PA AMR Conference Committee’s vital collective efforts, and EPCAMR and WPCAMR’s steadfast coalition-building across PA, along with their partners to continue to make AMD a priority in PA’s Coalfield communities.
The Friday and Saturday presentations will be uploaded soon and we can’t tell you how pleased we were with the quality of the presentations. All were great! Our Friday lunch speaker, Peter Stern, was personal, introspective, seemed to have made a connection with many in the audience, and provided us all with a new aerial look of PA’s abandoned mine lands and mining activity from above with his stunning photography captured using aerial photography as he flew across PA.
Robert E. Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director set the tone of the Friday evening Dinner with a recap of the PA AMR Conference’s 15th Year Anniversary, having coordinated all of the previous Conferences as either Chair or Co-Chair, back to 1996 and gave an inspiring 10 minute speech on why it is important for the PA AMR Community to continue to do the work that we do in the hopes of achieving clean water for our future and our children, the next generation. He acknowledged his first Supervisor, Mario Carrello, from the PA DEP Moshannon District Mining Office, who mentored him as an intern while at Penn-State back in 1994-1995, who was in the audience on Friday night, and is to this day, a trusted colleague and friend that EPCAMR continues to work with on AMD projects some 20 years later. Robert highlighted many fun themes, activities, presentation tracks, and places that we’ve toured over the years that connected us all to our roots in the PA Coalfields where we have successfully turned orange water into clean water and have brought trout fisheries and bugs back in increased numbers and diversity. He told us to be proud of who we are and take pride in what we are doing against all odds and to stand up for what is right in our communities. We need to continue to develop the partnerships with all levels of government and non-traditional groups like the Coal Industry, Co-Generation Plants, the Gas Industry, and others keep our goals in line. Clean water. “Removing the dirty water, from the dirty waters list” reiterated by Glenn Rider, PA DEP BCR. We are the local liaisons and boots on the ground that have to take care of ourselves and not wait for projects and initiatives to tell us what to do and when. We need to remain vigilant and have perseverance in our approach to AMD remediation and abandoned mine land reclamation.
Friday night’s Annual presentation of the Mayfly Award Winner was also no exception to great folks that we recognized at the 15th Anniversary Conference. The Pennsylvania Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AMR) Conference’s coveted “Mayfly Award” recognizes individuals who have dedicated a lifetime of knowledge and expertise to the reclamation of abandoned mines in Pennsylvania. The mayfly was selected as the symbol for this award because its presence in a stream signifies clean water.Mr. Bruce Leavitt, a Consulting Hydrogeologist, from Western PA who figured out a way to use an ancient device known as a “Trompe” to achieve mechanical aeration without the need for electricity, motors, or any moving parts to aid in AMD remediation was the 2013 Mayfly Award Winner. He was presented the Award by Tim Danehy, BioMost, Incorporated, who had many kind words to say about Bruce, and stood for the award with his most esteemed colleagues, from Stream Restoration Inc. and Bio-Most, Incorporated. The welded sculpture was created by Michael Bestwick, Fennelton, PA.
Bruce also assisted EPCAMR and WPCAMR with choosing the 5 Watershed Heros that were selected among all the submissions for the first ever Trading Cards that were a fun addition to the 15th Anniversary Conference. An anonymous donor provided $1000 towards the cash awards to the 5 Watersheds that were selected for awards based on submissions of Watershed Hero Trading Cards. The winning submissions were chosen out of a hat to make it fair. EPCAMR will work to secure the addresses and proper payment to the winning organizations. The winners were:
1. Rob MacLachlan donating $200 to Allegheny Land Trust, Land Protection Fund
2. Dennis Hawley donating $200 to Crooked Creek Watershed Association
3. Gracie Angelo donating $200 to Shoup’s Run Watershed Association
4. Max Sapinsky donating $200 to Kiskiminetas Watershed Association
5. Tom Clark would like to donate $100 to Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association and $100 to the Lackawanna River Corridor Association
The PA AMR Conference Committee even sprung for a 15th Anniversary Cake created by WEIS Markets in State College, PA, complete with a marble-looking photo of the Manor AMD discharge that was visited on last year’s tour to Western PA and our PA AMR Conference logo bookmarking both sides of the two-tiered butter-cream chocolate and vanilla cake.
Saturday mornings presentations were also a big hit. We may have lost 40% of our audience, however, those that were able to stay through lunch received a good education on the differences between Anthracite and Bituminous Mining, Geology, and Water Chemistry and Flows of AMD discharges across PA, learned about what the Media is looking for in stories about our issues, got a look at a comprehensive Restoration and Assessment Plan for the Lackawanna River and photos of what may be the largest AMD pollution source in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the Old Forge Borehole, and a presentation on utilizing Macro-Invertebrates as Indicators of AMD impacts and recovery efforts, to name a few.
The Conference couldn’t have been made possible without the financial support of the PA DEP, the PA Association of Conservation Districts, Inc., and the PA AMR Conference Planning Committee, and a special thanks to Agri Drain Corporation and our colleague Joe Shueck, for providing us with note pads for all Conference attendees.
Hy-Tech Mushroom Compost, Inc. also auctioned off a large mushroom block that netted some donations to the Conference thanks to Lisa Van Houten that was won by Eric Rosengrant, PA DEP Moshannon Mining Office.
In the next several weeks, EPCAMR will be converting the presentations from the 2 Tracks into “.PDF” documents on the website for those who were not able to attend or get to visit the other sessions during the Conference.
The PA AMR Conference Committee makes every effort to make all of our presentations public on this website for the larger AMR Community that was not able to attthend due to financial reasons or other conflicts. Please check back to the site for the updated information for next year’s Conference and location slated for June 26-28th, 2014.
In the meantime, if you attended the Conference and did not have a chance to complete the written survey in your packets, here is the online link. We would appreciate you filling out this survey so that we can compile and aggregate the information for our wrap up and debriefing meeting on August 29th, at 10am. So please, if you have the time, and attended, please complete the online survey below by the 26th of August. Thank You!