MWA’s 2022 Year In Review

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, we are excited to ring in 2023 with good newsupcoming events, and the announcement of two open staff positions.  We are eager to share the 2022 Year In Review with you. Our diligent work to protect, preserve, and restore the Youghiogheny River watershed and its broader communities shines through in this report.  
Some of the highlights include:

– Fundraising efforts to rehabilitate the Steyer Bridge were successful; we will begin construction this year. This moves us one step closer to connecting the 19-mile Indian Creek Valley Trail from its start in Jones Mills to the end where Indian Creek meets the Youghiogheny River. 

– We began work on the Youghiogheny River Conservation Plan: Part 1 from the Headwaters to Dunbar Creek. This document is a collaborative effort with many partner organizations and stakeholders. The information in the Conservation Plan will guide our work in the watershed for years to come.

– Our education team started to expand watershed education through an afterschool program at West Crawford Elementary and Clifford N. Pritts Springfield Elementary. Our Education Coordinator hosted community workshops and compiled MWA’s Equipment Resource Library, a free community library for locals and visitors to rent outdoor equipment and outdoor education curriculum and activities at no charge.

– MWA has expanded our land preservation efforts. In 2022, we raised the funds needed to purchase nearly 200 acres of forest along Rasler Run, a Wild Trout Stream which empties into Indian Creek in the Gorge. This forest will be protected and the property will be opened for recreational access and primitive camping. Rasler Run is one of five streams in southwestern PA that supports a wild reproducing rainbow trout population.  

– MWA continued organizing with residents in Yukon, a community near Pennsylvania’s only hazardous waste landfill operated by MAX Environmental. Our community organizers installed air quality monitors, reported environmental violations, and advocated for MAX’s landfill expansion permit to be denied by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Our efforts helped to turn out over 100 residents to a DEP hearing to speak out against the proposed expansion of the landfill. (Update: MAX Environmental Withdraws Expansion Application!)

– MWA hosted 52 community meetings this year, including a public “Know Your Rights” meeting after LCT Energy filed a pre-application for a second mine, Rustic Ridge II in August. The company is proposing an underground mine of over 2,600 acres, with the mine portal on the surface covering approximately 65 acres. We are currently fundraising for the legal appeal, which will likely span the next several years. 

– MWA’s work was highlighted by local and national media 40 times in 2022. For instance, MWA’s Community Organizer, James, was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal for his work with the nurdle patrol, collecting rogue plastic pellets from the river and shore near the new Shell Ethane-Cracker Plant, which began operating this past summer. 

This is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to the hard work and dedication shown by MWA staff and volunteers.  

Thank you for your continued support of the Mountain Watershed Association. Together, we can fight for clean water and a healthy environment.