Bike Ride that Celebrates and Benefits the Schuylkill River Trail Returns for a Second Year

The Schuylkill River Trail is one of this region’s most valued recreational amenities. On Saturday, September 30 the Schuylkill River Heritage Area will host a bike ride that gets cyclists pedaling on the trail, while also benefiting the trail.

Ride for the River, now in its second year, will take an estimated 250 cyclists along the Pottstown to Reading section of the Schuylkill River Trail. The ride begins and ends at Sly Fox Brewery’s Can Jam Festival, at Circle of Progress Drive in Pottstown where, after the ride, participants can enjoy eight hours of free, live music, as well as festival food and beer.

Cyclists will pedal 40-or 16-mile routes that take them either to Reading Riverfront Park or Union Township Recreation Area and back to Sly Fox Brewery.

The ride serves as a fundraiser for the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, which works with partners to build, improve and promote the Schuylkill River Trail. When complete, the trail will run 130 miles from Philadelphia to Pottsville. Today, about half of the trail is complete in sections. One of the largest finished sections is the Pottstown to Reading stretch, which totals about 20 miles. Ride for the River will take place along that part of the trail, with some on-road riding to and from the festival.

That section is owned and maintained by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. Money raised through Ride for the River will support ongoing maintenance of the trail.

Sly Fox Brewery has partnered with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area for the past two years by producing SRT Ale, a seasonal “ale for the trail” that benefits the Schuylkill River Trail. During the Can Jam Festival, Sly Fox representatives will present Heritage Area officials with a check from the sales of this year’s SRT Ale.

To learn more visit

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development.

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REMINDER: Schuylkill Acts & Impacts Application Due March 24th

There are just over two weeks left to submit an application! Click image below to download official 2017 application.

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Schuylkill Acts & Impacts 2017 – APPLY NOW!

The 4th annual Schuylkill Acts & Impacts watershed expedition will be held from June 17-24, 2017. Click on the link below to download the official 2017 application.

Schuylkill Acts & Impacts Application 2017

Complete applications must be submitted by FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017.

As a reminder, Schuylkill Acts & Impacts is a weeklong watershed expedition that is offered to a team of 12 high school students from the 5 counties (Schuylkill, Berks, Montgomery, Chester, Philadelphia) in the Schuylkill River watershed. Students will spend the week learning about different water quality impacts in the watershed, do hands-on testing, learn from and interact with environmental professionals throughout the watershed, and will camp, kayak, and have tons of fun!!

Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Fairmount Water Works, and Stroud Water Research Center have partnered to make this year’s program a success!

To see pictures from previous expeditions, please visit SHA’s Facebook page.


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Schuylkill Acts & Impacts 2017 – Save the Date! – June 17-24



This year’s Schuylkill Acts & Impacts expedition will be held from June 17-24, 2017. As we begin to prepare the 2017 schedule, we will be contacting speakers and presenters to be involved in the 4th year of the expedition.
Applications will be available to students within the next few weeks (*check back soon*). As a reminder, Schuylkill Acts & Impacts is for students in the Schuylkill River watershed in grades 9-12 including 2017 high school graduates. If you are an educator, parent, or mentor of a student who you think would be interested in the trip, please share this opportunity! Keep checking ours, or Fairmount Water Works’ website, for updates to the 2017 program and to download the application when it becomes available.


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Big Creek Limestone Sand Reclamation

Through a partnership between Schuylkill County Conservation District, Blythe Water Authority, and Pennsylvania DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) SHA had 330 tons of limestone sand delivered and dosed in Big Creek near New Philadelphia; a stream affected by acid rain.
On the week of Oct 3rd, Miller Bros. Construction took two days to 
deliver the limestone sand and another two days to move it into the head of the stream channel. For this project, SHA and the above mentioned partners received a grant through the 2016 Exelon Schuylkill River Restoration Fund Grant Program. SHA and BAMR have monitored prior pH/alkalinity and will be continuing post monitoring with anticipation that pH will be raised to natural levels and stormwater events will be reduced. This project aims to restore the 3.9 mile main stem to a viable coldwater fishery.

dscf9788Picture Above: This is the start of the headwaters of Big Creek before adding the limestone sand.

Pictures Below: These pictures show the limestone sand, the sand being added to the start of the headwaters of Big Creek, and the headwaters channel after the limestone sand was added and the water flowing through it.

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Former 2012 OSM/VISTA Cataia Ives Featured In Wellesley Center for the Environment Newsletter


An article featuring a brief life story about our former Office of Surface Mining – Volunteer In Service To America (OSM/VISTA), Cataia Ives, was published in the Wellesley Center for the Environment December 5, 2016 Newsletter. Along with the picture above, below is the whole featured article.

WCE Person of the Week!

Cataia Ives
Class of 2011

 “The summer after 2011, I moved with some Wellesley alums to an apartment in Allston,
where I worked at a pizza shop to fund my unpaid internship for an environmental non-profit.
The free pizza was definitely worth it for the opportunity to thoroughly explore the Charles
River by boat for their volunteer water quality monitoring project. Following that adventurous
summer, I moved back home to Florida whilst job searching. I signed up for a year of
community service through Americorps and was stationed in rural Schuylkill County, PA. My
job was to build volunteer capacity to clean up streams polluted by abandoned mine drainage
(AMD) discharge. This was the first real test of everything I’d learned in ES at Wellesley,
because I had to convince local residents, many of whom didn’t know that their water was
polluted, of their interest in supporting our cause. One success was organizing a clean-up event
in which a local 4×4 off-road group came up with their own rig to help us tow more than 50 old
tires from a dump pit to a recycling plant.
My interest in cleaning up water led me to graduate school for environmental sciences.
Since graduating with my Master’s this August, I work at the US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) in Research Triangle Park, NC, on a bioinformatics web application for scientists to
better understand health outcomes. Although this year is a time of transition at the EPA, I’m
hopeful about protecting the environment and human health.”

This article and picture is from the December 5, 2016 WCE Newsletter sent to Wellesley College Community (students, faculty, staff, alumnae), or friends, parents, or prospective student interested in environmental issues including: breaking news and announcements, detailed schedules of upcoming events both on and off-campus, and comprehensive lists of internship and job opportunities. Copyright © 2016 Wellesley College Environmental Studies Program, All rights reserved.

Sign up for WEC Newsletter or Contact Them Here

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New Philadelphia Ballfield Habitat Project


On the week of Sept. 12, SHA completed a trout habitat project with a partnership through Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited and the Schuylkill Conservation District. Along with creating a renewed natural meander in the stream for restored fish and wildlife habitat, the completion of this project will enhance recreational opportunities such as fishing and park use for the community and tourists. The project is located downstream from the Silver Creek abandoned mine drainage (AMD) treatment system at the New Philadelphia Ballfield Park. Since SHA began AMD mitigation efforts upstream, this project brings a long term vision of restoring healthy fisheries and wildlife to fruition in the waterway.





The picture on the left shows the stream channel before habitat construction began. This shows the lack of natural river meander, riffles, eddys, and depth variation generally required for better quality trout wildlife habitat in coldwater streams. The picture on the right shows volunteers and equipment operators moving logs into the stream channel to create ideal habitation sites.

The New Philadelphia habitat project was a combined effort of Blythe Township Water Authority, the New Philadelphia Borough, National Trout Unlimited, Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited, and the Conservation District. The project was funded by a Trout Unlimited Embrace-A-Stream grant received by Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited. The project was designed (see below) and given oversight by National Trout Unlimited’s Phil Thomas. There were a total of 37 volunteers working on various sections of the habitat site. Logs for the structures, made of larch trees, were supplied through DCNR Weiser Forest District. K&S Tree Service delivered the logs as a donation. R.E. Pearson Middleport Quarry provided stone at a reduced rate and New Philadelphia Borough hauled the stone to the site. Both Blythe Township Water Authority and Madonna Enterprise Construction Company provided equipment and operators.


This picture is the above view of the New Philadelphia Ballfied habitat plans showing the habitat structures that were installed into the stream channel.


Topographical map showing New Philadelphia Ballfield project location where habitat structures were implemented.


This picture shows a completed habitat deflector structure.

This picture shows detailed plans of a structure with a log frame filled in with stone to act as a deflector.


This picture shows an eddy being created on the far side the habitat structures.



These three pictures show more detailed habitat structure plans of boulder placement, cribbing, and deflectors that were installed in the waterway.


This is a picture of a completed log framed cross vane. It shows the formation of a deep pool eddy being formed downstream which is ideal for trout habitat development.

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Exciting Updates as SHA Moves Forward Into 2017


Greetings residents of Schuylkill County and anyone interested in the progress of Schuylkill Headwaters Association (SHA) as we continue to implement projects in our local watershed, the Schuylkill River. Moving toward the last month of 2016, there are a few updates that we are excited to share with you about what has been happening within the organization.


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In July, SHA got a new Office of Surface Mining Volunteer in Service to America (OSM VISTA). As a local resident of Schuylkill County, Nathaniel A. Hafer (pictured) is serving the county with SHA. We are excited to have Nate on board.  He will be building our organization’s capacity and implementing projects in the watershed.




Project Schuylkill Outdoor Leadership Odyssey

As an extension of the OSM VISTA program and a partnership with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, SHA designed and facilitated a highly interactive and scientifically integrative 10-week learning experience for the eighth grade class of Gillingham Charter School. Project Schuylkill Outdoor Leadership Odyssey (SOLO) consisted of 10 field and classroom experiences designed to give the students both knowledge and a real world career-centered perspective of the outdoor, environmental, and scientific fields. Fifteen students of teacher Taia Bachman’s eighth grade class successfully completed the odyssey. We are happy to boast that the students not only enjoyed the experience but they also demonstrated a real interest in what it takes to work in an outdoor/environmental career.  The Project SOLO students learned some possibilities for their own futures.


Nativity Field Day

On October 4, SHA took Nativity High School’s senior environmental science class, led by teacher Danielle Fox, to the Silver Creek Environmental Education Trail & Recreation Park to learn about water quality testing and local abandoned mine drainage (AMD) issues. The class tested multiple parameters at the beginning and end of the discharge site and were given worksheets with questions designed to help the students understand the relationship of those parameters to aquatic life. Students then ventured downstream to see the work SHA did in partnership with Schuylkill County Chapter Trout Unlimited on the new fish habitat construction in the Schuylkill River near New Philadelphia. This field day allowed students to take a needed break for fresh air from the classroom but most importantly helped them to understand the whole AMD remediation process.



Our very own president, Bill Reichert, recently received a Partnership Award at the 26th annual Evening for Northeast Pennsylvania’s Environment Banquet at the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Wilkes-Barre. Bill received the award for leading water quality improvement efforts in the Schuylkill River watershed.  Schuylkill County Commissioners George F. Halcovage, Jr., Frank J. Staudenmeier and Gary Hess also presented Bill with a proclamation at the Schuylkill County Courthouse for receiving the Partnership Award. See Link Below:

See Republican Herald News Article (Here)



SHA and its VISTA program have also had some recent publicity (including the award article link above).

SHA helped install street art decals for a student’s contest-winning design through the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. See Links Below:

Street Art – Republican Herald Article (Here)

Street Art – WNEP Article & Video (Here)

Street Art – PA Homepage Article & Video (Here)

The Republican Herald did a story highlighting the VISTA program for SHA and Schuylkill County. The story features previous VISTAs, SHA’s current outreach coordinator, Alexa Kramer, who served as last year’s VISTA and SHA’s current VISTA, Nate Hafer. See Link Below:

VISTA – Republican Herald Article (Here)



Cub Scouts Port Carbon Pack 604

On October 1st Port Carbon 604 Cub Scout Pack came to the Silver Creek Environmental Education Trail & Recreation Park. The scouts planted native plants in the rain garden and cleaned out the blue bird boxes for the season. The Cub Scouts enjoyed a day out with a hands-on experience of community service. SHA would like to thank Port Carbon’s Pack 604 for 4 years of continued help on this and various other projects.


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Our Former VISTA Sierra Gladfelter listed as a Research Associate at the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET) – International

Sierra Gladfelter is currently completing her Master’s degree in Geography and a Certificate in Development Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests include the politics of knowledge in climate adaptation and development interventions. Specifically, she is interested in studying the extent to which local knowledge and priorities are actively integrated into or excluded from the design and implementation of such programs. While her thesis examines interventions to assist communities in coping with chronic flooding along the Karnali-Ghaghara River in Nepal and northern India, Sierra has also studied flooding and the uneven process of recovery along rivers in Zambia and the United States with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and ISET-International. However, it was Sierra’s experience working for the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, a small watershed NGO serving communities impacted by abandoned mine drainage in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian mountains, that inspired her to pursue a career engaged in research and tangible work guided by local visions and communities’ active participation.
Contact Sierra:

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Schuylkill Acts & Impacts Application DEADLINE EXTENDED

Good news! The application period for the 2016 Schuylkill Acts & Impacts expedition has been extended. The new due date for application submission is FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2016.

To download the 2016 application, click the link below:
Schuylkill Acts & Impacts Application 2016

All directions for how to submit the application can be found within the packet.


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