OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
Schuylkill River Heritage Area
OSMRE / VISTA: Kaitlin Flahive
Supervisor: Robert Folwell
Address: 140 College Drive, Pottstown, Pennsylvania 19464
County: Berks and Schuylikll
Voice Telephone: 484-945-0200
Web site: www.schuylkillrivertrail.org
Congressional District: 17th
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is dedicated to assisting communities, organizations, and citizens of the Schuylkill River region to preserve and sustain their cultural heritage and natural environment for future generations.
About the Surrounding Community
Schuylkill County’s anthracite coal-based economy still survives, and they proudly state that they have more BTUs underground than Saudi Arabia. However, that industry has been in an ongoing recession with high uses of fuel oil and natural gas. Unemployment is about 10% and has traditionally been about 2% over Pennsylvania’s state-wide average. In 2010, the City of Reading (In Berks County and served by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area) was declared the poorest city of America. While the distinction has now gone to others, Reading still has a 41.2% poverty rate. The average percentage of residents living below the national poverty level for all the zip codes served by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA) is 19.53%. The per capita income of these zip codes is 24.19% below the national level.
The OSMRE/VISTA assists in the development of the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) to enhance tourism and the local economy; coordinates trail events, marketing, development, and stewardship activities; researches, develops, and helps to implement a management plan that provides guidelines for removing invasive species and sustaining trails with native plant materials; and develops volunteer groups and engages individuals to provide trail management and a sense of oversight to increase sustainability from charter schools, public and private schools, colleges, and universities. The OSMRE/VISTA coordinates and expands the Schuylkill Outdoor Leadership Odyssey (S.O.L.O) Project, which joins at-risk high school students with professionals in various environmental fields to foster interest in outdoor education and connect students with future career options. The project improves the capacity of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area through volunteer management and outreach, thereby leveraging the Schuylkill River Trail as an effective tool to promote the cultural and physical landscape of the region, to draw tourism and revenue to the adjacent communities, and to increase service area employment opportunities.