Laurel Highlands e-blast v. 2-6-Fall tours, Conservation Coalition

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Laurel Highlands e-blast v. 2-6 - Fall tours developed, Conservation Coaltion created

In this issue: 

Fall Foliage tour new for Laurel Highlands
Gas severance tax could fund “rec & con”
Conservation Coalition kickoff big success
Somerset County Watershed Summit coming
Natural Biodiversity seeks founders for 1st meeting
Fall Festivals and other events

Fall Foliage route done for interpretive plan

Just in time for fall’s magnificent peaks in the Laurel Highlands, a new driving route has been developed as a tourism-promotion tool through the Laurel Highlands Interpretive Plan developed in the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.

The northern route goes through Conemaugh Gap, visits the Johnstown Inclined Plane, drives over the top of Laurel Ridge to Spruce Flats Bog in Forbes State Forest.  The southern route goes through Confluence and Ohiopyle.

The routes will be available on the web sites of Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (, DCNR’s Laurel Highlands page ( and Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Laurel Highlands page (

Speaking of fall trips, a survey says the Historic National Road that includes Route 40 through the Laurel Highlands is among the 50 most comfortable touring drives in the nation.  The survey from America’s Byways® and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company found that 70 percent of Americans plan to take at least one road trip this autumn. Unlike summer road trips focused on the destinations, fall getaway trips are built on the overall experience of the journey.

Gas severance tax urgent issue for recreation, conservation

People interested in conservation and recreation heard at our recent Laurel Highland Conservation Coalition meeting about the urgent need to call or visit their state legislators – especially their state senators – immediately to urge them to support adoption of a severance tax on natural gas.

Andrew Heath, executive director of Renew Growing Greener, provided an update today, saying the severance tax is on the verge of collapse and urging people to contact their representatives and senators to urge that the tax be adopted this year with a significant part of it going to conservation issues, including Growing Greener.

Every major gas-producing state already has a severance tax and at least three states have a higher net tax than that proposed in this bill.  In addition, the larger gas-producing companies are advocating for passage of a severance tax now so that they can know what the number is – they are more worried about knowing what the amount is than they are about paying something that they already pay in virtually every state where they drill.

Conservation Coalition gets off the a solid start

Over 85 people turned out for the inaugural meeting of the new Laurel Highlands Conservation Coalition, a spin-off of the CLI.  Land conservancies, watersheds, Trout Unlimited chapters and other conservation and recreation groups turned out for the day-long program held September 30 at Ligonier Town Hall. The group decided to meet twice a year.

The coalition was formed to provide a regular forum for large-scale conservation issues, make the funding pie bigger, advocate policy, get the “conservation message” out to a broader audience and network.  After discussing the reasons to form the coalition, the program included presentations on:

  • Renew Growing Greener – Andrew Heath’s powerpoint presentation and draft ordinances of support are available at
  • The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. Chuck Duritsa, a retired DEP official and current ORSANCO board member, said the Commission deals only with water quality in the Ohio River mainstem while the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Delaware River Basin Commission have much more authority.  Duritsa encouraged people to advocate to expand its authority.
  • The inadequacy of current regulations on Marcellus shale.  Jack Ubinger, a senior vice president of Pennsylvania Environmental Council, presented a recent PEC report that recommended a major overhaul of the regulations.  It’s available at
  • Efforts to monitor impacts of Marcellus shale drilling.  Presentations were made by the national Trout Unlimited and a panel of local watershed advocates – Somerset Conservation District, Loyalhanna Watershed Association Mountain Watershed Association.

Somerset County Watershed Summit coming

The Somerset County Watershed Summit on October 21 will feature the Laurel Hill Creek, which this year was named to the American Rivers Endangered List because of the low amount of water in the stream.

The program to be held at Penn Scenic View near Laurel Hill State Park will include discussion of the Water Resource Management Plan for the stream, a bus tour of the watershed, reports from watershed groups and partnering agencies, an update on the Laurel Highlands CLI and Conservation Coalition, and networking.

There is no fee to attend but registration is required by October 13.  Space on the bus is limited.  Questions: contact Susan Moon at, 814-445-4652 x 116, or Dave Kemp, 814-445-4652 x 117.

Yough Defense Fund sets annual event Nov. 18

The Yough Defense Fund raised a remarkable $16,000 in their first “Yough Defense Party” last year, and with threats remaining, the 2nd annual event has been scheduled for the evening of Nov. 18 at Falls City Pub in Ohiopyle.

Donations are being sought for the silent auction (valued above $15) and for the swag table (less than $15 value).

Regarding the Curry Mine, the Fayette County judge in the case of the mining company’s appeal of the Zoning Hearing Board’s (ZHB) denial of the special exception for Curry still has not ruled.  The Curry permit has still not been issued by DEP, but it could be before the event.  The strip mining company needs both the DEP permit and the ZHB special exception to proceed with the proposed strip mine on the banks of the Yough near Camp Carmel and the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.  Regardless of the rulings, appeals are expected.

Natural Biodiversity seeks founders for 1st meeting

Natural Biodiversity is encouraging costumes at its first annual meeting from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. October 27 at its new office in the historic Russell House at 539 Park Ave. in Johnstown. 

A $35 admission will cover local food, two beverage tickets and a one year membership with distinction as a “Founding Member”.  The meeting will include networking, dinner, a business meeting, a program speaker and door prizes.  Please RSVP to by October 20th. 

The non-profit Natural Biodiversity works to control invasive, non-native plants such as Japanese knotweed and to restore native plants using holistic habitat-management techniques. It works primarily in the Kiski-Conemaugh and upper Juniata drainages.

Fall Festivals and other events

A large list of events in the Laurel Highlands is available on the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau web site  A few highlights include:

Oct. 9-10, Fort Ligonier Days this weekend includes 150 juried crafters and battle re-enactments,

Weekends in October, Autumnfest at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, see

Oct. 9, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort’s Fall Festival,

October 17, Connellsville Yough River Trail Council Fall Foliage Ride / Walk, registration at 12:00 Noon. This Event Is Not A Race! Participants can begin biking or walking as much of The Great Allegheny Passage as they wish and return to Yough River Park in Connellsville for the family picnic from 3 to 4 p.m.

Oct. 29- 31, A Halloween Haunting Storytelling Event at Compass Inn Museum, Laughlintown,

Nov. 5, the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra at the State Theatre Center for the Arts, Uniontown,

Date Posted: 
Fri, 2010-10-08