water

The Importance of Water

Watershed expert April Claus called to the 20 Quaker Valley High students splashing through a creek bed in their muck boots: “Who wants to release the brown trout?” They were part of Claus’s environmental science internship—the Quaker Valley Creekers. And on that autumn day they waded into Little Sewickley Creek, releasing some fish and collecting …

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You’re in ‘Steelie Country’

When summer gives way to early fall and warm days yield to cool nights, an annual obsession begins to surface on Lake Erie streams. Steelhead and those enamored of the silvery salmonid (Oncorhynchus mykiss) migrate en masse to dozens of tributaries in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Anglers wade knee-deep into the chilly, slate-blue water …

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A Rhapsody in Blue

This summer, as Pittsburgh hosts World Environment Day and the world focuses on biodiversity, a small river 90 miles north of the city will do what it has always done. Quietly, its waters wind along a 117-mile path from Chautauqua County, New York, into western Pennsylvania, where it joins the Allegheny River at Franklin. And …

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Our Endangered River

It’s a crisp November morning, some 25 years ago.  Bob Ging and Don Gales are hunting on a ridge in Lower Turkeyfoot, Somerset County, where green hemlocks mingle with bare winter hardwoods. “Boy, this is beautiful,” says Ging as sunrise reveals the emerald waters of Laurel Hill Creek in the valley. Gales has a timber …

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Our City, Our Water

An April 23 Forbes article describes “America’s 10 Thirstiest Cities,” and, of course, each is west of the Rockies and faces some degree of water crisis. Closer to home, the Great Lakes, which hold roughly 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, have dropped dramatically in the past decade. Explanations range from weather patterns to …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Summer 2009

Winding its way through the Laurel Highlands is one of the most beautiful trout streams in western Pennsylvania. If you’ve ever waded into the stream, you know its charms—the rocks, the flowing water and the trees that line the banks. You could be anywhere, but you happen to be in Somerset County.  Laurel Hill Creek, …

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Fall Run Park

The verdancy of summer is best experienced in a narrow western Pennsylvania ravine. These places are particularly inviting after thundershowers wash the air crystal clear, polish the leaves to a glistening shine, and fill streams with roiling water. After the rain, the rising petrichor fills the valleys and tempts us to explore corridors winding under bowed …

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The Origin of Spring

My benchmark for the onset of spring follows neither the facts of planetary motion, nor the predictions of a rodent. In my mind, spring starts when the daily average high temperature begins to increase after bottoming out in late January. By using this ruler, my favorite part of the year, spring, is lengthened. That magic day …

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Testing the Waters

Herbert Dreiseitl was in a hurry to get back to work one day last February, so he did what most people do here. He jaywalked. He scuttled across Liberty Avenue — no cars were coming — and headed uptown, where his design team awaited him.​ His hurry was understandable. Dreiseitl, a world-renowned urban designer who …

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Crystal Clear Designs

Winter slows the primal routines of nature. Trees shed delicate, food-factory leaves before they freeze. Forests subsist on sugar hived in roots protected from the cold by the consistently above-freezing deep soils. Tender wildflowers abandon all life above ground. Small creatures build their own larders — caches of autumn’s bounty gathered and stashed underground out of …

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Row Your Boat

You should see Pittsburgh from down here, with nothing but a shell of wood and a few threads of spandex between you and the Allegheny, the water slapping at your elbows and the skyscrapers jutting like exclamation points at the end of the river. Pittsburgh is a city more often looked down onto, as from …

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