Endowment: Promoting Clean Natural Energy Resources

Outdoor America 2016, Issue 2
Jim Saska

The Harry Enstrom Chapter in Pennsylvania received a $15,000 grant from the Izaak Walton League of America Endowment to support a positive approach to addressing water quality impacts from current and legacy energy extractive industries. Building on a successful stream monitoring pilot program, the chapter developed a Citizen Watershed Monitoring Program to monitor headwater streams across the state. This program was designed to proactively engage the interests, talents, and energy of local citizens.

The Citizen Watershed Monitoring Program provides an effective stream quality early warning system and a comprehensive, continually updated database of area watersheds. Trained citizen volunteers record physical stream characteristics and test the water for pH, electric conductivity, and total dissolved solids. IWLA Endowment grant funds were used to provide equipment, calibration fluids, supplies, replacement parts, data collection sheets, and informational updates to volunteers.

The Endowment funds also enabled the chapter to develop a comprehensive six-hour training program that each volunteer must complete. The training emphasizes the importance of quality assurance, quality control, and safety to and for the volunteers. Streamside field training is specific, requiring all aspects of water sampling, physical stream observations, data acquisition, and record-keeping protocols to be completed with the volunteers implementing the program. The training includes a one-hour video, classroom and lab experience, monitored field trials, and a final field test. The chapter has trained more than 70 volunteers to sample more than 75 sites across the state. Water monitors have logged more than 6,000 hours over the past five years.

The Harry Enstrom Chapter’s Citizen Watershed Monitoring Program facilitates collaboration among a variety of public and private entities. West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute displays the program’s data on its Web site. The Mon Basin Watersheds Compact, constituting some 45 watershed-oriented groups in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, uses data collected by program volunteers to form policy as well as comparative project planning input in areas not currently monitored for water quality. In addition, government entities such as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Green County Conservation District accept the volunteer data.

The Endowment grant enabled the further development of the Harry Enstrom Chapter’s Web site. Short videos, resources, and links regarding community natural resources have been developed and posted. The information is updated regularly to engage interested citizens.

The Endowment grant funding helped the dedicated members of the Harry Enstrom Chapter make their vision of safeguarding natural resources for the future a reality. Key contributors to this project include Ken Dufalla, Chuck Hunnell, Marty Niverth, and Jim Butler, who applied for the grant, structured the project with key activities and milestones, maintained financial tracking of all grant funding, and provided several progress reports to the Endowment Board. At the IWLA national convention several years ago in Fredericksburg, Virginia, chapter members presented a report to fellow Ikes to share their experiences.

The Citizen Watershed Monitoring Program is one of many conservation projects supported by the Endowment grant funds. Learn more about the IWLA Endowment grant process, including the application and deadline.

Patty Nunn, IWLA Endowment Board member