Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Newsletter

This is a repost of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative and is their content. Credit also goes to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Please support these important organizations.

Articles in this issue
Register Now for Laurel Highlands Summit
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail Bridge on track
Stony a close 2nd; valve dedication set
Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands
DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants
Projects advance, Boat Commission sets sessions

About the CLI

The Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) is a partnership that strives to raise the region’s quality of life while crafting a model of sustainable development tied to the natural and cultural assets of the region. The initiative connects communities and partners in the area with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high quality assets and enhance the region’s economic viability.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources has created seven CLIs. Pennsylvania Environmental Council is proud to serve as lead external partner to the Laurel Highlands CLI.

Laurel Highlands CLI
Laurel Highlands e-blast update Vol. 3 No. 1

Register NOW for April 4 Laurel Highlands Summit

Advance your knowledge about trail development, conservation, capacity building, funding opportunities in the new era, and the economic benefits of trails, conservation, recreation and tourism at the second Summit of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.

The Summit begins with registration from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on Monday, April 4, and continues until 4 p.m. at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

The incoming secretaries of DCNR, DEP and PennDOT are being invited to speak and another keynote speaker will be Todd Poole, principal of 4ward Planning, an economist who has been involved in economic impact studies across Pennsylvania who compares the economic benefits of development versus open space.

Please see for an overview and links to the full schedule and registration information. You may need to copy and past that web address rather than just click on it.

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge on track

news on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail bridge-replacement project: Funds are in place and bids will be opened on March 10 to replace the structure over the Pennsylvania Turnpike. DCNR was forced the remove the bridge last year when serious structural issues were identified that could risk the safety of Turnpike travelers.

Project updates are available by calling (814) 445-7725.

This critical project will not only re-connect the LHHT but also open access to the multi-use trail system for snowmobile, equestrian and mountain-bike users at Forbes State Forest.

Stonycreek close 2nd for River of Year; valve dedication set

Lined up for Rendezvous Rodeo
The Stonycreek River finished only 216 votes short of the Delaware River in public voting for River of the Year.
Mike Quinn of the Stonycreek Quemahoning Initiative helped to publicize the Stony’s nomination and said, “Congratulations to them. But considering that the Delaware folks had a significantly larger population base from which to solicit votes, I think the Stony’s finish says volumes about the high level of support for your efforts to make the Stony environmentally safe and a recreation destination.”

The release valve recently installed in Quemahoning Dam to provide water for whitewater boating will be dedicated Friday, May 13, to open the three-day Stonycreek Rendezvous. The Rendezvous typically attracts 800 to 1,000 whitewater enthusiasts from across Wisconsin to Florida but historically has been run in April when the water is often icy cold. With additional water from the Que, the Stonycreek will be boatable on every other weekend into October provided sufficient water is available in the dam pool.

Rails to Trails Sojourn coming to Highlands

The 9th Annual Greenway Sojourn of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) will be held July 19-24 on trails that are in or border the Laurel Highlands. Almost 2,500 people, representing every state in the country, have participated in these memorable bicycle rides, experiencing the joys and benefits of rail-trails and the communities that support them.

The 2011 Sojourn will focus on the Ghost Town, West Penn and Hoodelbug trails in Cambria, Indiana and Westmoreland counties, and an optional day will feature the Path of the Flood Trail in near Johnstown in Cambria County. See

Tom Sexton, director of RTC’s Northeast Regional Office, said, “Bringing the Greenway Sojourn to the region will show business and government leaders that an investment in trails is worthwhile. Last year, our 300 riders spent over $200,000 along the corridor they biked just that week.”

DEP’s latest Growing Greener grants

DEP has announced its latest round of Growing Greener grants – a much lesser amount than in previous years because of expiring and diverted program funds. The grants approved included:
 Mountain Watershed Association, $179,510 for operation, maintenance and replacement plan for its watershed restoration projects in Donegal, Saltlick and Springfield townships.
 Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, $38,515 for watershed monitoring of the Conemaugh and tributaries.
 Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, $110,800 for streambank stabilization and the UNT 2 abandoned-mine discharge treatment project.
 Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, $216,000 to restore Hypocrite Creek, a tributary to Loyalhanna Creek.
 Westmoreland Conservation District, $97,590 for stormwater retrofits at an industrial parks.

Regional projects funded include $130,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Drainage and $236,000 for Trout Unlimited for AMD assistance, $116,883 for Pennsylvania Environmental Council stormwater and green infrastructure assistance, and $79,591 for Stream Restoration, Inc., to maintain Datashed, a web-based data-management tool for watersheds.
All four counties in the Laurel Highlands adopted resolutions supporting Renew Growing Greener!

Projects advance; Boat Commission sets sessions
Lincoln Highway State Heritage Corridor has selected Smeltzer Construction of Apollo, PA, to restore two historic diners to museum standards inside the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum. The contract includes restoration of one an 1938 tourist cabin.

AMTRAK work in Connellsville

A new AMTRAK station is under construction in Connellsville. A temporary station is in place and will be removed once the new station opens. Much concrete work is being done now, mostly for the platform area around the new station.

Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority has “purchased” the right of way of the former Johnstown and Stonycreek Railroad from the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority for $1. Two sections of the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail have been completed in the City of Johnstown and will be connected using this ROW to make a 3.5-mile trail through the community.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has scheduled public meetings to receive comments about the agency’s draft river management plans for the Ohio and other major water basins. Based on factors affecting the rivers’ biological health, PFBC biologists will prioritize fisheries-management needs. Sessions are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at Doubletree Hotel, Monroeville, and from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Conference Rooms 301 and 302, Stover Campus Center, Waynesburg University, Waynesburg. See


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