California announces upcoming River Fest

On Saturday, August 18th, the first-annual River Fest will kick off in the heart of downtown California, PA on Wood Street.  The River Fest is a two-day outdoor event and also a fundraiser for park enhancement and trail creation projects within the California/Coal Center communities.

The event will host several food and craft vendors, activities and games for kids, as well as live bands playing throughout the day.  The line-up for bands includes The Split, the band LocaL from the Pittsburgh area, and folk music by the Weed Rags.  There will also be an Elvis impersonator, a blues rock band Bad ‘n Ruin, and the local polka band Mon Valley Push.

Saturday night will conclude with a firework show.  There will be a free car show on Sunday, August 19th in the parking lot next to the California Public Library.  Bring out your family and friends for a fun weekend in the sun by the river!

Special thanks go out to all of the sponsors and supporters of the event, including the Monongahela Valley Hospital, California Army Navy Surplus, Lisa J. Buday Attorney at Law, Pennatronics Corporation, Highway Appliance Co., The California University Art Club, the California Borough, and the California Recreation Authority

The River Town Program is a community and economic development project of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  In partnership with McCollom Development Strategies and the Student Conservation Association, the project aims to promote outdoor recreation as an economic driver for communities bordering the Monongahela River.

If you would like more information on the California River Fest, please contact Marah Vecenie at 724-603-3151 or by email at


Attention River Town Business Owners! New Funding Opportunity Announced!

The PA Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for its Small Business Advantage Grant Program to fund pollution prevention and energy efficiency projects.  Well designed energy efficient or pollution prevention projects can help small businesses cut costs and reduce the risk of potential regulatory problems, while simultaneously protecting the environment. The program closes on September 26th or when all funds have been awarded. Funds will be awarded on a first come-first served basis.

The grant program provides up to 50 percent of project cost, to a maximum of $9,500, to enable a small business to adopt or acquire energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. These are reimbursement grants, meaning the business owner will have to pay the full amount of the project, then submit receipts to the DEP for reimbursement of ½ the costs or $9,500, whichever is less.

For more information, visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program webpage.

We strongly encourage businesses in the River Town region to take advantage of this program. Every dollar that is not spent on wasted energy can go into improving and growing your businesses. If you would like to discuss a potential project or need help preparing your application, please contact Lindsay Baxter at Pennsylvania Environmental Council at 412-481-9400 or

Examples of Eligible Projects:
A. Lighting (including lighting controls)
B. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, including geothermal)
C. Industrial Equipment (refrigeration, pumps, compressors, etc.)
D. Insulation/Air Sealing of existing structure
E. Pollution Prevention/Material Recycling
F. Auxiliary Power Units (APUs), Bunk Heaters or Anti-Idling equipment



August 4th Full of Activities in River Towns

With so many events going on, why not come for a visit and make a day of it?

The Greensboro Farmers’ Market will take place from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the Greensboro Gazebo, overlooking the Mon. Pick up some local produce and homemade goodies.

The Brownsville Community Festival and 4th Annual Ducky Race is also occurring on August 4th. The day kicks of with a 5k race at the High School. At 11:00 a.m., exhibitor booths open, followed by the community parade at noon. The afternoon is filled with live entertainment from local dance groups, cheerleaders, and bands. At 3:30 p.m. the annual ducky race will begin, with hundreds of rubber duckies racing from the Inter-County Bridge to the Wharf, attempting to break the record of 850 duckies set in 2009! The day concludes with Music on the Mon, a concert featuring Harold Betters, at 6:00 p.m. Click here for a full schedule of events.

Animal lovers won’t want to miss the 2nd annual Dock Dogs competition on August 4th-5th at the Greene Cove Yacht Club outside of Fredericktown. Dogs and their owners compete to see which dog can jump the farthest to retrieve a tennis ball from Ten Mile Creek. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Learn more at

Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding making big splash locally

Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding making big splash locally

From By Mary Ann Thomas, July 4, 2012

From 2010 to 2011, recreational kayaking saw the largest increase compared to a number of outdoor activities at 27 percent, according to the Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report 2012 by the nonprofit Outdoor Foundation in Boulder, Colo.

During that same time period, kayaking was followed by bow hunting (up 19 percent), Stand-Up Paddling (18 percent), telemarking skiing (15 percent) and trail running (9 percent).

“I think it will continue to trend upward,” Andritz said. “Kayaking is an easy sport to learn, and it can be relaxing and peaceful.”

But it can also provide an adreniline jolt on white water.

Local outfitters in the Alle-Kiski Valley cater mainly to flat-water lovers and light rapids — whether it’s in a kayak, canoe, rowboat or a stand-up paddle board.

“The desire to go out on the water is increasing, and ever year we are providing more services to more people,” said Jon Lucadamo, projects director for Venture Outdoors, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that offers kayak and other water adventures on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, North Park lake, and recently, the riverfront park in Millvale.

Read the full story here.

New Report Finds Outdoor Recreation Employs 6.1 Million

A report released today by Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) shows that outdoor recreation is a major economic driver in the United States — and one that has grown throughout the recession. According to The Outdoor Recreation Economy report, more than 140 million Americans engage in outdoor activities each year, directly delivering $646 billion to the economy and supporting 6.1 million domestic jobs.

This new study reinforces what the outdoor industry has known for a long time — outdoor recreation is a larger and more critical sector of the American economy than most people realize.

Highlight Facts from the Recreation Economy Report
The outdoor recreation economy is responsible for:

  • 6.1 million direct American jobs
  • $646 billion in direct consumer spending
  • $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue
  • $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue

Read the report here.

WARNING: Help Stop the Spread of “Rock Snot”

Didymo, better known as “rock snot,” is an invasive algae that has infested waters in 16 states, and has recently been found in the Youghiogheny River. It forms dense mats on the river bottom that are barriers to native organisms (caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies). As a result, fish populations can decline, and fishing becomes very difficult.

There are simple steps boaters can take to help stop the spread of Rock Snot. Please read more to learn how you can help.