OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
Schuylkill Headwaters Association
OSMRE / VISTA: Alexa Kramer
Supervisor: Bill Reichert
Address: 1206 AG Center Dr., Pottsville, Pennsylvania 17901
Voice Telephone: 570-622-3742 ext. 118
Web site: www.schuylkillheadwaters.org
Congressional District: 17th
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
The Schuylkill Headwaters Association (SHA) was founded in 1998 with the mission to promote the environmental integrity of the Schuylkill River, its tributaries, and the watershed that lies within the boundaries of Schuylkill County. SHA increases resident awareness and commitment to conservation of the Schuylkill River and implements projects to reduce and control pollution.
About the Surrounding Community
The main source of water pollution within the headwaters of the Schuylkill River is abandoned mine drainage (AMD). Before the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, coal operators extracted resources and degraded the environment unregulated. The environmental impacts still seen in Schuylkill County today include water quality impairment, forest degradation, and flooding and property devastation in downstream communities. According to studies by local organizations, this has resulted in a $72 million economic loss over twenty years in the area. In the absence of coal operators to drive the local economy, 19.53% of residents within the zip codes served by the Schuylkill Headwaters Association live below the national poverty level and live 25.41% below the national per capita income level. Additionally, on the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, only 29% of 11th graders in Schuylkill County were considered ‘proficient’ in science for their grade level. Some school districts were as low as 21% proficient and faced warnings for failing to meet No-Child-Left Behind goals.
The OSMRE/VISTA creates opportunities for community members to contribute to the development of the Silver Creek Environmental Education Trail and Recreational Park (SCEETR), an outdoor classroom used to increase local student environmental literacy. These opportunities include service projects such as planting rain gardens, installing educational signs, and constructing wildlife habitats. SCEETR programs expose students to science-based concepts such as the effects of AMD on water quality, conservation practices, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programming in the field. When Schuylkill County residents achieve higher levels of education and diversify the local economy, there will be greater economic opportunities for future generations. In addition, the OSMRE/VISTA engages in environmental stewardship by coordinating watershed clean-up plans; collaborating on remediation and monitoring projects; and organizing and expanding SHA’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program to monitor AMD treatment systems and discharges.