Friday, January 6, 2012

Powerdermill Gets $730K

John Wenzel, pictured at Powdermill Nature Reserve, is director of the Carnegie of Museum of Natural History's new Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management. Photo: Josh Franzos, courtesy Carnegie Museums

via the allegheny front :

"The Richard King Mellon Foundation is investing $730,000 to create a major Appalachian research center--what it hopes will become one of North America's biggest such facilities. The money will go to expand the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems and the Powdermill Nature Reserve located in the Laurel Highlands, in southwestern Pennsylvania. TAF's Jennifer Szweda Jordan interviews John Wenzel, director of the museum's Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems."

This was the sort of news that I like to hear. Positive resources to protect the future. In a world that seems to be content with damaging the future for instant pleasures its good to see this. So, what is the Powdermill Nature Reserve? 

From their website-Powdermill Nature Reserve:

"Powdermill Nature Reserve, the environmental research center of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, has been dedicated to its mission of research, education, and conservation for over 50 years. It is a place for scientists, for students, and for families who are interested in the natural world. The Powdermill Bird Migration Research Program is home to the one of the longest continually running bird banding stations in the United States. A wide variety of public education programs serve children and adults. Researchers from around the world conduct diverse long- and short-term scientific studies in herpetology, botany, invertebrate zoology, and ornithology."

About Powdermill:

Powdermill was established in 1956 to serve as a field station of Carnegie Museum of Natural History for long-term studies of natural populations—their life histories, behaviors, and ecological relationships.
Powdermill Nature Reserve is both a place and a philosophy. It stands as a symbol of the human vision—both scientist and philanthropist alike. 

The museum's need for a natural area which could be used as a laboratory and preserved for the study of natural processes was understood and outlined in 1948 by Dr. M. Graham Netting, then Assistant Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Since he believed the Ligonier Valley to be the finest natural area in western Pennsylvania, he personally instituted a search for a suitable site for his vision.
Dr. Graham Netting
In 1956, General and Mrs. Richard K. Mellon and Dr. and Mrs. Alan M. Scaife presented to Carnegie Institute, for the use of the Natural History Museum, eleven tracts of land totaling 1,160 acres, beginning about three miles south of Rector. The area was named "Powdermill Nature Reserve, a Research Station of Carnegie Museum." 

Over the next several years, additional acreage was added to the Reserve through other generous gifts, and today, Powdermill Nature Reserve offers over 2,200 acres of woodlands, streams, open fields, ponds, and thickets.  The reserve is used by scientists to monitor and study changes in the local ecology and wildlife populations. It has served as a refuge for many plants and animals which, as a result of habitat distruction, are now becoming increasingly rare in our region as their habitats are destroyed. Powdermill Run, the mountain spring stream that traverses the mixed deciduous forest property, was found to be one of the very few unpolluted streams available for ongoing studies of aquatic life.  

Today, as the Reserve celebrates its fifty-year anniversary, it is far more beautiful than when it was established, due to the natural growth of protected vegetation and the efforts of many supporters. 

I have driven past the Powdermill Nature Reserve a few times in order to fish the small cold mountain streams of the area. These fragile streams hold native brook trout populations that are unique to the Appalachia region. Powdermill has a stream that holds wild rainbow trout. One of only several in the region. This money is much needed in order to protect and education the resources of this distinct region. With the unknown impacts of shale drilling taking place throughout the commonwealth it is a relief to know that some areas will be protected.


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