Harkins, Merski: More than $162k to launch Erie watershed steward program

Program to support training, education of volunteers

ERIE, Dec. 30 – A $162,422 grant to the Pennsylvania State University will help ensure Erie volunteers have the knowledge and resources they need to keep stewardship of the coastal region alive and well, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program will fund the Erie launch of the Master Watershed Steward Program, which will train volunteers in watershed management so they can educate the community based on the latest university research and recommendations.

“The steward program will broaden the knowledge base of Erie’s many volunteers who are devoted to caring for our coast and protecting our watershed,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Armed with the latest information and research, those volunteers can pass this information along at the local level. Launch of the program in our area – made possible by this funding – is going to ensure that our precious lake region benefits from state-of-the-state conservation and management techniques.”

Merski said: “Erie has some incredibly talented volunteers who understand our coastal region’s unique needs. But maintaining a balance between use and enjoyment on one hand and preservation of delicate ecosystems on the other is a constant challenge. The steward program will help ensure that our volunteers receive the benefit of the latest environmental studies and data, which they can share with a new generation who will care for the coast with the same level of knowledge and expertise.”

A collaboration among citizens, local government and conservation organizations, the Penn State Master Watershed Steward Program was established to strengthen local capacity for management and protection of watersheds, streams, and rivers, by educating and empowering volunteers.

The grant awarded today will also fund the launch of watershed steward programs in Schuylkill, Franklin, Adams, Crawford and Warren counties.

More information about this grant and others awarded statewide is available here.