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PA Cleanways to hold volunteer cleanup of Lower Trail in the Juniata Watershed

PA Cleanways of Blair and Huntingdon County has scheduled a cleanup of the Lower Trail in the Juniata Watershed for Saturday, April 17.
According to a news release issued by PA Cleanways, the site, which is part of the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Mainline Greenway project, and is adjacent to the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River, has an estimated five to seven tons of trash, including scrap metal, construction waste, household trash and over 200 tires, some of which is spilling into the river.
The goal of the event is for all the trash to be removed to help continue the five-mile extension of the rails to trails project from Williamsburg to Canoe Creek in Blair County.
According to information posted on its web site, PA Cleanways explained The Lower Trail Phase I Cleanup will focus on eliminating an illegal dump that exists along the right-of-way of the Lower Trail Extension Project that is scheduled to begin construction in spring 2004.
The Trail Extension, which will end in Canoe Creek State Park, is expected to have a grand opening in late May. However, the illegal dump is abutting to and within direct eyeshot of the proposed extension and has to be eliminated for the trail project to begin. The trail originated in Huntingdon County and is used by for outdoor recreation and is also a habitat for local wildlife.
Once it’s cleaned, native trees and shrubs will be planted to secure stream banks and provide adequate shelter from wildlife. A volunteer monitor through Rails to Trails of Central PA and an already established trail maintenance program will maintain the site.
The Lower Trail is an 11-mile rail-trail that extends from Alexandria in Huntingdon County to Williamsburg in Blair County.
Funding for the cleanup was awarded from DCNR and PA Cleanways, Inc. because the trail lies within the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway.
Alana Roberts, executive director of the PA Cleanways Huntingdon County chapter explained to The Daily Herald the definition of a greenway.
“A greenway is a linear open space,” said Roberts. “It could be a land trail or a water trail.
“We are coordinating this with the Blair County chapter since the trail runs into that county,” said Roberts. “The actual clean up is occurring in Blair.”
The greenway is developing through the Allegheny Ridge Corporation, a state heritage park that is drafting the management plan of the greenway project.
“Prior to the event we are also doing education about greenways,” explained Roberts. “We are sending out newsletters to non-profit organizations, schools and community groups and we are also offering some presentations.”
The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway project is one that follows the paths of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal and the Allegheny Portage Railroad that were used in the 1830\’s to transport people and goods westward from Philadelphia and Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.
The Lower Trail cleanup project is being supported by Rails to Trails of Central PA, PA Cleanways of Huntingdon County, and Allegheny Ridge Corporation all support this project.
Funding for the project was provided through the PA Department of Community Conservation Partnerships Program, with a 50 percent match from PA CleanWays and other partners involved in the project.
PA Cleanways is a statewide nonprofit environmental organization with recognized expertise in cleaning up illegal dumps and empowering people to take action against illegal dumping and littering. Since its inception in 1990, the organization has coordinated more than 1,600 illegal dumpsite cleanups, litter cleanups, and hard to recycle events.
The start time for the cleanup is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. next Saturday. Those seeking more information should contact the Blair County chapter at 814-946-0484 or by email at blairclwy@keyconn.net. The registration and meeting point is at Canoe Creek State Park.