Since 1947, the Washington County Conservation District has been working to preserve the county's soil, water and related natural resources. Supporting the Washington County Watershed Alliance and its individual watershed association members is one of the ways the Conversation District seeks to achieve its goals.
Some local watersheds have their own associations dedicated – but the level of support varies. And over time, watersheds can unfortunately become default dumping grounds, with people tossing waste ranging from tires to old furniture over the side of the road. While Chartiers Creek has a large volume of volunteers dedicated to frequent clean-up efforts, others – like Pigeon and Ten Mile Creeks – have fewer folks ready to lend a hand. That's where employees from Marcellus shale driller Range Resources recently stepped in – to lend several hands.
“We had over a dozen employees participate in a Pigeon Creek clean-up this past spring,” says Range's Mike Sherman. “We were also able to provide trucks to load up the debris we collected. And that's where teamwork really came in and it was great to see. We ran into the some strange situations! One of which was a huge pile of construction debris and we thought – how are we going to handle this? But everybody just dug in and we got it cleared.”
The next opportunity to help came up sooner rather than later – when the Conservation District reached out in the fall – this time looking for help with watershed clean-up at Ten Mile Creek. “On the designated day, we showed up with 14 Range employees ready to help,” says Range's Erica Taylor, a participant in both of Range's recent watershed clean-up efforts.
It was an area in dire need of some attention. “We pulled out couches, toilets, dressers, tires. We filled something like four dump trucks full of tires.”
Jennifer Dann is the Watershed Specialist at the Washington County Conservation District, and the Treasurer of the Washington County Watershed Alliance.
“The employees from Range Resources were amazing,” says Jennifer. “They are some of the hardest workers we've ever been lucky to enough to have. They show up ready to tackle whatever is in front of them and they never quit.” Jennifer also says it's not always easy to recruit volunteers for watershed cleanup, especially for the lesser known areas that don't have well-established watershed associations in place. “To be able to call on Range and have that group of volunteers show up and tackle a huge amount of debris clogging the watersheds around Pigeon and Ten Mile Creeks – you know, you're picking up other people's trash, but we still managed to have a good time! It was a great effort focused on really important work -- and we appreciate the help so much.”
For the Range volunteers, the opportunity to help one of the smaller watershed groups was a key driver in the effort. “We wanted to help in an area that had a greater need for manpower,” says Erica. And it's a partnership that employees would like to continue.
“These were our first watershed clean-ups where we specifically partnered with the Conservation District and both went really well,” says Erica's coworker Jessica Ullom, who is also an Associate Director on the Board of the Washington County Conservation District. “It's something we're looking to do on a yearly basis or even more frequently if we can manage it.”
This article is brought to you by Range Resources.