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Shapiro Administration Honors 22 Projects Statewide with 2024 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

Projects include streambank restoration efforts, tree planting, environmental conservation in environmental justice communities, and many more projects


Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is honoring 22 projects completed by schools, businesses, and community organizations around the state with 2024 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.

“This year’s Environmental Excellence honorees showcase the innovative ways we can protect our environment and shape a more sustainable future here in Pennsylvania,” DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “Together we will spur the next generation of environmental stewards and these projects represent our ability to work together and preserve Pennsylvania’s natural resources.”

Applications were evaluated for their degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice, as well as outcomes achieved.

The 2024 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were awarded to:

Adams County Trout Unlimited
The Collaborative Public, Private, and Non-Profit Partnership Leads to Land and Stream Preservation and Restoration in Adams County project conserved a parcel of land through stream restoration, riparian zone improvements, and recreational infrastructure. This partnership between non-profits and local municipal authorities focused on increasing access to fishing in the area and supporting the stream ecology.

East Buffalo Township
The Turtle Creek Park Acquisition and Restoration project partnered with the Union County Conservation Department, DEP, Fish and Boat Commission, and Bucknell University students to do major stream restoration on Turtle Creek. The project aimed at restoring the space in a local park with enhanced recreational opportunities, pollinator habitat, and riparian buffer improvements.

Fox Chapel Area School District, Audubon Society of Western PA, Allegheny County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, and Fox Chapel Borough Parks Commission and Public Works Department
The Second Graders Restoring Habitat at Salamander Park project is a joint recognition project that integrated a local school district with nonprofit environmental groups. The project empowered over 300 second grade students to enhance a local habitat by planting over 300 trees to improve the riparian habitat of Sycamore Run. This multi-sector partnership engaged students, teachers, nonprofit organizations, and community volunteers to plant over 1,500 native trees.

Friends of Wharton Square Park, in partnership with the Master Watershed Stewards of Philadelphia County
The Wharton Square Park Native Habitat Gardens project centered around an Environmental Justice Community and transformed the city park in the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia. Working with the park’s existing design, the project created a network of eight native plant gardens that incorporated high-visibility areas to promote environmental education and enhance the experience of the park, while still achieving ecosystem benefits.

Heritage Conservancy
The Croydon Woods Nature Preserve Species Surveys and Educational Program project furthered restoration and management of a site designated as a superfund site in the 1980s. The organization spearheaded a survey to update plant and animal biodiversity statistics on what is now a nature preserve. The conservancy partnered with local schools to continue tracking and the data was used in educational programming.

Humane Action Pittsburgh
The Swissvale Community Pollinator Garden project, in partnership with the local municipality, created a pollinator garden on a 12,000 square foot vacant lot in Pittsburgh. The garden will include native plants for pollinators and will provide space for community events and educational opportunities for residents of all ages in the area. Community events held in the garden contribute to environmental awareness, fostering a sense of stewardship among community members.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful
The Young Ambassadors of Pennsylvania project is an education program that aims to engage students in 10th through 12th grades on litter, waste, and recycling. The students led education events, community cleanups, and undertook professional development classes.

Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation
The Lacawac Pocono Lake Ecological Observatory Network Program: Protecting Pennsylvania’s Water Resources provided hand-on education, continued lake monitoring, and citizen science programs. This project promotes and enables lake stewardship at the individual and community level while also connecting local Pennsylvanians closer to their freshwater resources.

Larson Design Group
The Desktop BMP (Best Management Practices) Analysis with Non-Intrusive Field Verification project developed a remote sensing based agricultural BMP methodology to collect Resource Improvement Practices that were completed and not accounted for with the Chesapeake Bay model. The program makes data collections similar and time efficient. This project was an excellent example of the collaborative nature and positive outcomes of a public-private partnership.

Lower Allen Township
The Lower Allen Township Solar Energy Project significantly reduced the use of fossil fuels by switching to renewable solar energy and had significant long-term cost savings for the township and, in turn, the taxpayers. It also has a significant environmental impact annually, reducing the township's reliance on fossil fuels.

Pennsylvania Resources Council
The From Bins to Bottles: Amplifying Source Separated Glass Recycling in Pennsylvania project implemented a glass recycling program through 2023 and had “pop-up” glass drop- off collection sites for communities with no access to glass recycling bins. This program met a critical community need when these communities were faced with the loss of glass recycling in their curbside single-stream recycling programs. The project collected over 1,000 tons of glass to be recycled.

Pike County Conservation District
Dingman Township Park Pollinator Gardens project developed two native plant pollinator gardens at Dingman Township Park which provide habitat and nutrition to local pollinator populations, supporting them amid the many environmental stressors facing insects globally. The project included educational signage to provide visitors with planting information, pollinator identification and benefits, information on threats to pollinators, and steps individuals can take to encourage pollinators on their own properties.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The 2023 Young Naturalists Program provided paid student internships to engage in education, professional development, and service learning through environmental stewardship. The students planned and executed stewardship projects aimed at making lasting changes in our parks along with weekly final projects including installing water bars, bluebird nest boxes, erosion control measures, and more.

Radnor Shade Tree Commission
The Bare Root Tree Plantings project planted 230 shade trees in the last year by engaging volunteers and community organizations. The program has built awareness among community members of the value of trees, and the benefits they provide to our environment. The commission also provided educational opportunities for community members.

Regional Science Consortium
The Restoration of Nationally Designated Priority Wetlands at Presque Isle State Park project focused on restoring wetlands in Presque Isle State Park, primarily through removing invasive plants and installing native species. There was also significant monitoring of plant and animal species in the area. The project involved volunteers, student interns, and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources staff.

This Is My Quest, Inc.
The Conservation Education Through Remediation project directly addressed critical environmental issues in Pennsylvania, fostering a culture of sustainability and stewardship. Through hands-on learning experiences and community involvement, the goal of the project was to cultivate a deep-rooted understanding and appreciation of environmental conservation and sustainability in an Environmental Justice Community.

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
The George B. Duke Engineering and Information Technologies Building Rooftop Solar Array project aimed to reduce the University’s dependence on commercially generated power while advancing the campus towards its overarching goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The project also raised campus and community awareness of the importance of renewable energy sustainability.

The Wilkinsburg Stormwater Resiliency Project Phase I project, with funding from the Growing Greener Program and other local funding sources, enhanced the largest stream restoration in the country on Nine Mile Run. This project addressed stormwater management issues around Nine Mile Run to improve water quality and improve resiliency in an Environmental Justice Community.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Chester University of Pennsylvania held “A Forest Festival Celebrating 50 years of the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Education” which attracted over 200 university and community members to campus. The successful event celebrated the university’s commitment to protecting the land, the unveiling of educational signage developed in collaboration with the Delaware Tribe of Indians and their sister nations, the Delaware Nation, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, and the growing partnership between the university and these indigenous nations.

West Goshen Township
The Hamlet Crest Park Reforestation Project, led by West Goshen Township’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, was a large public service event held on Arbor Day. The primary goals of this project were the reforestation of public parkland and increased biodiversity, as well as to educate the public on the many benefits of planting trees. The project included over 40 community volunteers.

Women for a Healthy Environment
The Healthy Homes Asthma Program aims to reduce environmental hazards contributing to asthma triggers in homes. The program's goal is to create healthier living environments, address respiratory health challenges, and contribute to economic growth through workforce development. With funding from a Housing and Urban Development production grant award, and in partnership with PA’s Whole Home Repair program, the project focused on repairing homes for families of children with asthma and test for lead, radon, and other contaminants that may worsen asthma conditions.

United States Steel Corporation Mon Valley Works
The Zero Emissions lithium-ion battery electric switch locomotive project involved the transfer of two locomotes at a Steel facility to battery-power. Battery-powered locomotives will reduce the amount of diesel fuel consumed at the Clairton and Edgar Thomson facilities, reduce airborne particulate matter, and demonstrate U. S. Steel’s use of emerging technology to reach its climate goals. This project has reduced the amount of diesel fuel consumed at the facility by 40,000 gallons annually and reduced airborne particulate matter equivalent to 7,000 passenger vehicles or 51 transit buses.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit website, or follow DEP on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.


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