Young conservationists to focus on Mon River

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BROWNSVILLE – A corps of young conservationists has arrived in the Mon Valley to work this year promoting tourism and recreation in six towns along the Monongahela River from Brownsville south to Point Marion.


The four interns from the Student Conservation Association have been assigned to the River Town Program, which is in its third and final year of developing a cooperative approach to promoting the Mon in the six municipalities, which also include California Borough, Fredericktown, Greensboro and Rices Landing, said Lindsay Baxter, a program manager with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which launched the project.


“This is the year we focus on transitioning the ownership to the communities,” Baxter said Tuesday following an announcement that the SCA interns will work from an office in Brownsville’s Historic Flatiron Building at 69 Market St.


Among the team’s first big projects will be helping the towns organize a March 12 party to celebrate the Mon’s winning $10,000 for being voted 2013 Pennsylvania River of the Year through an online contest sponsored by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.


The prize money will be given to Brownsville Area Revitalization Corp. to sponsor such events as river sojourns along the Mon so that people “will see it in a new light, hopefully,” Baxter said.


The volunteers in each of the six towns already have accomplished goals, including the expansion of a river dock in Fredericktown, and they will finish this year erecting “gateway signs” welcoming people to the municipalities, she said.


The SCA team will be assigned to the River Town program through December, and it will be up to the association whether that effort will be repeated in 2014.


Dennis Slagle, a businessman in Fredericktown, said in past years the corps worked as a liaison between the communities and Environmental Council, performed clean-up work along the Mon and painted the East Bethlehem Township building. Slagle, owner of Bee Graphix, said he expects the program will be funded again next year.


The change this year involves relocating the group’s headquarters from Connellsville to Brownsville.


“We’re really excited that they’re going to be living and working in one of the river towns,” Baxter said. “These are young recent college grads kind of getting their feet on the ground.”


Norma Ryan, who works with the River Township program through BARC, said she, too, is excited that the corps will be in the Flatiron Building.


“The fact that we won River of the Year and River Town being part of all that is a very positive fit for us,” Ryan said.


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