This article appeared in the February 2012 newsletter and was written by Von Holguin, OSM/VISTA with Clearfiled County Conservation District and SGP
The Clearfield County Senior Environment Corps (SEC) is a small but dedicated group of seniors and retirees who gather monthly to discuss important environmental issues that affect the area, like hydraulic fracture drilling and abandoned mine drainage (AMD). Most of the members of the SEC perform regular water quality testing on nearby streams and tributaries, and report that data back to the SEC and to Kelly Williams, the Watershed Specialist for the Clearfield County Conservation District.
The SEC’s work on creating a baseline for readings like pH, conductivity, and total dissolved solids provides many valuable data points and a scientifically verifiable record for future studies like Trout Unlimited’s landmark Benchmark Study of the West Branch Susquehanna, a study that showed indisputable proof of great improvements in water quality in the West Branch, largely due to stream remediation work by the SEC, the Clearfield County Conservation District (CCCD), and various local watershed groups. The SEC’s sampling work in past years had actually helped provide some of the data that went into this benchmark.
The Senior Environment Corps is very aware of environmental problems, and several members have been actively sending letters to Harrisburg to make sure that their representatives are responding to these concerns properly. The SEC is especially concerned about the proposed revision to 25 PA Code §102.14 that would remove the required 200-yard riparian buffer zone between drilling or mining projects and streams and waterways. SEC member Marianne Atkinson has also sent letters to the EPA about new and proposed drilling projects near her property.
Another key member of the SEC is Carl Undercofler. He has also served as an Associate Director for the CCCD for over 9 years. During this time, he has dedicated thousands of hours of his personal time to not only the SEC and the CCCD, but also the myriad of other watershed organizations and other volunteer groups that he participates in. Although he has been retired for several years now, he puts in time nearly equivalent to a full-time job! His assistance in the Trout Unlimited benchmark study cannot be overstated, and without his help, it would not have turned out as well as it did. The Clearfield County Senior Environment Corps is an integral part of the West Branch Susquehanna River’s volunteer network. It is with them, and volunteer organizations like them throughout the West Branch, that much of the positive change in the river’s quality begins on a grassroots level. Interested in joining the Clearfield County SEC? Contact Kelly Williams with the Clearfield Conservation District at 814-765-8130.
Photo courtesy of the Clearfield County Conservation District