Pinizzotto and his team recognized early on, for instance, that agriculture has one of themost significant impacts on the region’s waterways. Crops planted in floodplains and cowsgrazing near streams cause fertilizer and manure to overload water with nutrients.However, many farmers lack the financial and planning resources to implement bestmanagement practices. Within the program’s first three years, Pinizzotto’s group created acomprehensive agriculture assistance program to help with the design and installation of featureslike cattle fences and barn gutters.To date, more than 500 farmers have participated in the program.While the Watershed Conservation Program continues to focus on its original objectives,it has expanded its services and staff of biologists, natural resource managers, geographers andothers, to meet the needs of this program.The program staff now occupies an expanded office near the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s campus in Indiana, Pa. The office includes a library, a conference room withstate-of-the-art technology, new cubicles and a large fish tank with Pennsylvania native trout.A small laboratory at the new site houses field specimens and upgraded scientificequipment, including two top-of-the-line microscopes that help scientists identify even thesmallest macro-invertebrates. Other equipment enables them to classify aquatic life, conductwater quality and chemistry tests and conduct visual assessments.Despite significant growth, the program has not lost sight of its original goal to providegrassroots assistance to watershed organizations.“Our initial interaction with the Conservancy’s watershed program was over five yearsago when they helped us obtain a Growing Greener grant from the state,” said Jim Powell,chairman of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association. “We developed one of the first watershed protection plans. Most plans were about remediation. Our plan was designed to protect thestream, because Buffalo Creek is a pristine waterway.”Since then, WPC has worked with the Buffalo Creek Watershed Association on other initiatives including outreach. Last fall, WPC staff showed more than 30 Boy Scouts on DutchFork Creek how to catch and monitor fish. Last August, the two groups collaborated on astreambank improvement project.“I speak for all of the watershed association members; it has been a wonderful experienceworking with Nick and his staff. They have been most helpful,” Powell said. Mike Pardee of theLittle Mahoning Creek Watershed Association had similar praise.“We’ve done quite a few projects with the Conservancy that made a tremendous impacton Little Mahoning Creek,” he said, referring to grant-writing, a dam removal, and a litter pickupthat yielded 33 tons of trash. “We now see fish in the creek and mussels along the stream banks.”An article in the May 2001 issue of Conserve outlined the center’s original four objectives. They were:--
Provide technical assistance to watershed groups
and like-minded organizations. Sincethen, the Watershed Conservation Program has provided technical assistance to nearly 550different entities; most of them are in Western Pennsylvania, but some are as far away as Hawaii.--
Abate point and non-point source pollution
. Today, the program works to address all typesof pollution from erosion and sedimentation to abandoned mine drainage. This is accomplishedthrough direct implementation of best management practices, most of which are designed and built by WPC staff.