Block Scholarship winner

George Block congratulates Christina Adams, a Carmichaels student, who won the George Block Conservation Scholarship. The announcement was made during the Washington County Sportsmen’s & Conservation League’s annual Sportsmen’s Show at the Washington Crown Center Mall that was held Feb. 8-10.

On Feb. 9, I was privileged to award the second annual George Block Conservation Scholarship to a fine up and coming environmentalist, Christina Adams, a student who attends Carmichaels High School.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention that Christina is a member of the Carmichaels Environthon team that went to the international finals and did quite well. The members of that team, as well as the teacher/coach Mr. Kevin Willis, should be congratulated on their success. They submitted more than one outstanding entry this year.

We were all impressed by this young lady’s entry. Congratulations to the Carmichaels School District, and I do hope to get to go there and present this prestigious award to her there.

I also received entries from a few other young environmentalists, which is great. One of them stopped by to see me during the cold spell we had, even after he didn’t receive the award, and drove quite a ways, which was appreciated. He seemed to be a good public speaker who will raise his voice for the future of the environment. All in all, a great turnout of entries. Take note fellows, this is the second year that the girls beat the boys.

Our group of presenters taking part in the ceremony this year included State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, Commissioner of the Game Commission Dennis Fredericks, Mike Weber, Kathy Ward and myself. A special thanks is offered here to that group and all my donors this year. A thank you to Signature Printing for some last-minute work and a special thanks to a special person and great environmentalist Sen. Bartolotta. She always steps forward and backs the outdoorsperson and gun owners in our state. She also honored Ms. Adams with a certificate from the State Senate recognizing her win of this award. Mr. Fredericks surprised us all when he gave Christina a coveted Game Comission Commemorative Coin. It is people like Ms. Adams who must carry the torch in the future. I can see many challenges that will need to be faced in upcoming years.

Trying to neutralize the acid entering the Monongahela River from the abandoned mines in the area might be one. These sources of pollution are slowly filling and becoming close to capacity. They will soon be leaking into the river. If not taken care of – the technology is there to stop it – all the work of the past will be wiped out. The funding for this project needs to be put in place for these youngsters who will heed the cry for help coming from the environment.

It was these young applicants who got me to thinking about environmental issues. Those abandoned mines dotting the hillsides of Pennsylvania are but one issue. The impact of gas drilling and the pipelines are another big one. As woods are cleared to make way for the drilling rigs does it hurt the songbirds? Remember, we are changing those woods to open pastures.

As they clear land for the gaslines they plant clover, which the deer love. This is especially true of young tender clover. When the gas line is in the young clover state the deer are far more visible. Are they more vulnerable? There is little doubt the gas drilling and the pipelines have made changes – if you work for one of the gas companies all is well but for the environment, watch out.

In the mid-1930s a bill was passed in Congress called the Land Reclamation Act. This short-lived act of Congress cost us much of our wetlands. While the wetlands look dark and forbidding they are actually very beneficial to man and wildlife. Is it a coincidence that the Eastern swampland is the last home of the panther? Go to Ding Darling Game preserve in Florida and you will see a huge swamp filled with birds seldom seen anywhere else. But beyond that, the swamp eases flooding and the wetlands’ ability to cleanse is well-documented. They are in reality nature’s cleaners and purifier.

Somewhere 40 years down the road I am hoping someone will call out Miss Adams. They will ask her tell us what you did and how you did it? I am betting on her that she will find the answer. We all know saving Central Park isn’t all that easy.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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