The Conewango Creek watershed has never been so easy to see.
Thanks to the efforts of a group of Leadership Warren County graduates, three informational kiosks have been erected at strategic locations along the creek.
The kiosks can be found at Larimer Park in Russell, the trail head of the Bike Hike Trail in Warren just north Seventh Avenue, and at Point Park where the Conewango Creek meets the Allegheny River. "The three interpretive sign kiosks are located in strategic areas that see a great deal of human visitation year around and are easily accessible by anyone traveling by water and land," Penny Wolboldt said.
Photo submitted for publication
Leadership Warren County team members, standing from left, Kirk Johnson and Penny Wolboldt, and volunteers Tristan Tyler, an Eagle Scout candidate with Troop 13, and his father Dwayne pose as they put the finishing touches on a Conewango Creek Watershed informational kiosk at Larimer Park in Russell.
Each three-sided structure displays three informational panels.
"The first panel explains the basics of what a watershed - or drainage basin - is, and why it is important to protect the watershed in which one lives," Kirk Johnson said. "The second panel provides a map of the entire 900-square-mile Conewango Creek watershed, all the way up into Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties in New York, and also provides the mission statement for the Conewango Creek Watershed Association. The third panel is recreation-oriented and displays a map of the formal state-designated Conewango Creek Water Trail from the New York State line down to the Conewango's confluence with the Allegheny River at Point Park."
"Each panel is a work of art in its own right and includes art work, photographs and graphics as well as informative text about watersheds in general, the Conewango Watershed and the Conewango Creek Water Trail," Wolboldt said.
The team members - Johnson, Wolboldt, Ruby MacWithey, Jason Anderson, and Joe Beardsley - said they are pleased with the results.
"Our kiosks will be in place for years to come, gently reminding all who view them that protecting the natural environment within the Conewango Creek's watershed is at all times paramount over all other conceivable concerns," Johnson said.
"The product is exactly as we envisioned it but it is made magical somehow by the fact that it was embraced with such appreciation and supported by so many," Wolboldt said. "The marvel of it was how the idea caught fire with disparate groups, agencies, individuals and funding agencies and finally becoming a full-fledged community effort with wide-spread and varied supporters."
"There were many people, businesses, and entities who contributed to this project," Johnson said. "I am grateful to all of them."
Two contributors stood out.
"Two Warren County Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout candidates added an electric enthusiasm and sparkle to speed the completion of a Leadership Warren County class project that was two years in the making," Wolboldt said.
"I have been duly impressed in particular by the efforts and stick-to-itiveness of the two scouts who were involved, Eli Punsky (Troop 8) and Tristan Tyler (Troop 13)," Johnson said.
"Each Eagle Scout candidate coordinated the triangular kiosk construction projects, including planning, budgeting, researching, coordinating, collecting materials, recruiting volunteers, construction and installation of the panels," Wolboldt said.
"This project was such an interesting experience in witnessing a vision emerging, gaining support, forming and reforming and then bursting into reality," Wolboldt said. "Many hours of planning, research, writing, design creation, meetings, networking and recruiting were required."
The initial goal of one kiosk expanded to three, but the vision was not changed - despite some pressure.
"I am very satisfied because the messaging conveyed to the public by the panels about watersheds is accurate and informative," Johnson said. "There were efforts by some outside of our project group to have incorporated into our messaging values that are wildly inconsistent with the protection of a watershed, so I will forever be supremely satisfied that we were able to turn back such efforts to hijack our project, and complete it on our own terms."
The information should remain untarnished on the kiosks for years.
"The panels are made of polyurethane with a finish that is designed to be weather and vandal resistant for decades," Wolboldt said. "The Conewango Creek Watershed Association has agreed to maintain and repair the signage and the kiosks going forward."