The Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project (SCRIP) was create to address environmental problems in the Upper Conemaugh Basin. The basin includes the Stonycreek and Little Conemaugh Rivers, which meet in Johnstown to form the Conemaugh River, which flows into the Kiskiminetas and then the Allegheny Rivers.

The Conemaugh Basin is beautiful, straddled by the highest ridges in PA: Laurel Ridge tops 2600 feet to the west and Allegheny Ridge tops 2700 feet to the east. The Conemaugh River cutting through Laurel Ridge forms Conemaugh Gap, one of the steepest river gorges in the eastern U.S. The basin has great potential for canoeing and fishing because of the slopes and elevations of the streams and rivers. The many headwaters with native, reproducing trout illustrates the aquatic potential.

But the ridges that make the region so beautiful and the headwaters such fine, cold-water fisheries contained vast coal reserves. Over 150 years of mining has left major environmental damage, known as acid-mine drainage or AMD. New passive-treatment technologies using limestone drains and wetlands make treatment feasible without daily maintenance costs, and SCRIP is supporting new initiatives aimed at recovering and selling the iron and other metal common in mine discharges.

SCRIP is a coalition of grass roots groups and local resource agencies drawing in sportsmen, environmental groups, municipalities, businesses, coal operators, schools, etc. SCRIP was created in part through the support of Congressman John Murtha and has enjoyed strong support from virtually all elected officials. With the grassroots and political support, SCRIP has succeeded in creating partnerships with many agencies: PA Department of Environmental Protection, US Geological Survey, US Office of Surface Mining, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

SCRIP has over a dozen projects, most in planning but also completed AMD projects on Bens Creek, Oven Run, Bear Rocks Run and Gray Run.

SCRIP is restoring the Stonycreek and Conemaugh Rivers. You can help by adopting a section of stream or becoming a member. Basic membership id $12, family $20 and club or small business $50. Write SCRIP, PO Box 153, Johnstown, PA 15907, or call the Somerset County Conservation District (445-4652) or Cambria County Conservation District (472-2120).

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