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Senior Volunteers Help Keep Water Quality in Check

<BR>The Senior Environment Corps is expanding to areas that need it most.

ELK COUNTY---Volunteers 55 and over have been keeping an eye on Pa's waterways, now the Senior Environment Corps is expanding to Elk Co., and is looking for some help.

Area chapters of the Senior Environmental Corps are coordinated by a Clearfield organization called Nature Abounds. Tuesday, the non-profit agency held an event to train new volunteers in Elk Co., so that they can get started on making sure our water is safe.

James Girty, 85, came to the training meeting, and has been fighting for environmental issues his whole life. He says he's not stopping now.

"Boy, I stepped on some toes, but I'm the first one to ever get Elk Creek stocked," Girty said, "You can't believe what I put into it. I put a lot into it, I really did."

Melinda Hughes-Wert, President of Nature Abounds, said volunteers like Girty have incredible knowledge of the area and the factors that have impacted our environment over the years.

"I had one senior in the Pittsburgh area at one point. He used to work for the nuclear factory, and, actually, part of his job was dumping stuff into the ground," said Hughes Wert, "And then later, it became known that it was a problem, and so he wanted to come back and help solve that problem."

Tuesday, the newly-formed Elk Co. Senior Environment Corps got some training on water monitoring testing kits.

Hughes-Wert said they need all the help they can get because of the limited budget and resources of agencies like the DEP.

"We have a lot of natural resources in the area, a lot of waterways. In Pa alone, there's 86,000 miles of streams, and a lot of them aren't being watched," Hughes-Wert said, "And so actually having people on the ground, you know, they can get out during the day and actually do water monitoring, watch for habitat destruction, it's invaluable."

Water monitoring is especially important in Elk Co. with environmental concerns like acid rain and Marcellus Shale drilling.

"If something in the future does happen, we'll have that baseline data to show what it was doing for years before that to establish a record for that stream," Hughes-Wert said.

And at age 85, Girty is ready for yet another environmental project to tackle.

"You got to get off your fanny, and get out there and do it yourself, you know," said Girty.

The Senior Environmental Corps is expanding to new areas and is always in need of volunteers. To find out if there's a chapter in your area or if you'd like to help start a chapter, contact Nature Abounds at (814)765-1453 or email volunteer@natureabounds.org

To learn more about the Senior Environment Corps and other environmental initiatives from Nature Abounds, go to www.natureabounds.org.

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