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Westmoreland

Lowber field day highlights outdoors, Sewickley Creek cleanup

Jeff Himler
| Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 2:18 p.m.

Area residents will be able to explore a walking trail and learn about efforts to clean up the Sewickley Creek at a free Family Field Day Aug. 4 near Lowber.

The second annual environmental education event, sponsored by the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lowber Abandoned Mine Drainage Treatment Project, on the Herminie-Lowber Road about a half mile from Lowber.

The site features a series of settlement ponds that capture iron oxide remaining from a deep coal mine that operated in the first half of the 20th century. The material that otherwise would pollute Sewickely Creek and the Youghiogheny River is instead harvested and sold for commerical use, the association notes.

The site has become an outdoor environmental education lab, with students from several colleges sampling the water and plant life, said association Executive Director Tom Keller. There is a 2,22o-foot walking path, which the group hopes to double in length, and a pavilion is nearing completion.

“So many people stop to take photos of the wildlife,” said Keller, who added that goeocaching activities and a kayak launch ramp also are available.

During the field day, stations will offer demonstrations of water testing and information on the site’s history, kayak and water safety, plant sampling and microbiology. Local coke oven historian Mike Mance and railroad historian Lou Corsi will participate.

A free lunch, snack and water will be served. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by Aug. 2. Email scwa@sewickleycreek.com or contact Keller at 724-610-0829.

Attendees should not wear sandals or flip flops. Long pants are recommended. In case of rain, the field day will be held on Aug. 18.

The event is funded by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. Participating organizations include California University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Cub Scout Pack 258, Lowber Volunteer Fire Department, the Westmoreland Conservation District and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

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