Waterkeeper Alliance Welcomes Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium

New Affiliate to Protect Local Water

The world’s largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water, the Waterkeeper Alliance, has welcomed the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium as a new Waterkeeper Affiliate.

In its role of fighting for clean water worldwide, the Waterkeeper Alliance connects and mobilizes over 300 Waterkeeper groups. As chair of the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium, local resident and educator Melanie Smith will lead the group’s work to protect and preserve the entirety of the Conewango Creek watershed by combining firsthand knowledge of the waterway with an unwavering commitment to the community’s rights to clean water and environmental justice. 

“The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium will have an incredibly important job,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Waterkeeper Affiliates defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water, from law-breaking polluters to irresponsible government officials. Until our public agencies have the means necessary to protect us from polluters, and the will to enforce the law, there will always be a great need for people like the Consortium to fight for our right to clean water.” 

The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium will be an advocate for Conewango Creek, its lakes and its tributaries, working to protect and restore water quality through community action and enforcement. Smith, chair of the group, stated: “Our Waterkeeper Affiliate’s aim is to provide strong advocacy that will result in clean water for all citizens, whether they rely on it for drinking or recreation and to maintain the ecological integrity of the waterways within the Conewango Creek watershed.”

The Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium is sponsored by the Conewango Creek Watershed Association. The Consortium will work on water-related issues affecting the water bodies included in the Conewango Creek watershed.  Those water bodies include Chautauqua, Cassadaga and Bear Lakes, the Chadakoin River, and Cassadaga Creek in New York, as well as all of the headwaters and the main stem of Conewango Creek. A main goal of the Consortium is to be the voice of protection for the region’s water, both surface and ground, and the creatures who depend on it. This will be achieved utilizing research-based materials which will guarantee factual information to the public. The Consortium will also provide a means for the public to report citizen science or improper practices. Visit the Consortium’s website at cccwaters.org for more information and to learn how to get involved.

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more information about the global organization please visit: www.waterkeeper.org

Howard Zahniser Deserves a place in National Garden of American Heroes

Howard Zahniser Deserves Higher Regard and Increased Recognition in the Pantheon of Great Americans

Without a doubt, Tionesta, Pennsylvania native, The Wilderness Society Executive Director, and Wilderness Act of 1964 author Howard Zahniser (ZON-i-ser) should be included in the new National Garden of American Heroes, slated to be open by July 4th, 2026 — the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

As the human population in this country continues to grow, sprawl continues its expansion into open spaces, and natural settings become more scarce, by the law of supply and demand untrammeled wilderness is going to take on greater significance to Americans for many important reasons.

I believe Howard Zahniser’s Wilderness Act, already considered by many to be the most poetic yet precise legislation ever enacted, will become the singly most important and appreciated work completed by any American. Howard Zahniser has given us an invaluable gift, the full import of which may never be truly known.

In my estimation Zahniser can be thought of as a latter-day Founding Father with the enduring import and quality of his magnanimous efforts, his intellectual and philosophical capacity, and his acute aptitude with and love for the English language. His drafting of the Wilderness Act, shepherding of it through 66 rewrites and 19 public hearings before Congress over a period of eight years, and tireless advocacy for wilderness with all who would listen is unparalleled.

The community of Tionesta and all residents of the Commonwealth have reason to be very proud. Howard Zahniser deserves higher regard and increased recognition not only in the pantheon of great American conservationists, but in the pantheon of great Americans.

Kirk Johnson is Executive Director, Friends of Allegheny Wilderness.