Churchill Area Environmental Council

Nature walkBackground, History & Projects

“To advise member municipalities and their residents on matters of environmental interest and importance.” That is the mission of the Churchill Area Environmental Council (CAEC).

The Council serves Chalfant, Churchill, Forest Hills and Wilkins, each of which may appoint members as representatives. The Council meets on the 3rd Monday of January, May and September at the Churchill Borough Building, 2300 William Penn Highway at 7:00 PM. The public is welcome.

The Council sponsored the first recycling center in our area back in 1970, and dedicated volunteers from community service groups ran the center for our small, non-mandated municipalities until early 2013, when Churchill Borough started curb-side recycling service. In the 1980’s the Council worked with and supported efforts at the High School to monitor water quality in area streams, work that is ongoing in school programs.

In honor of the United States Bicentennial celebration in 1976, the Environmental Council produced, and Westinghouse printed, an illustrated, 18 page “Churchill Area Tour Guide” for distribution to residents. It highlights local features of historical and/or environmental interest. Copies are still available at the Borough Office.

Periodically, the Council develops and distributes advisories and fliers on timely environmental issues affecting our communities. These are available on request from your municipal office and are listed elsewhere on this site.

Each year the CAEC, along with its member municipalities, sponsors a graduation scholarship for a senior at Woodland Hills High School. Applicants for this monetary award must complete a project that makes an active, tangible contribution to environmental conservation, education, legislation, or research - particularly within the school district or the communities it serves. A downloadable application form with more information is found elsewhere on this site. Entries must be received by March 31st of the student's senior year. Projects may be done during any high school year.

Announcements

  • ChurchillIT'S MOSQUITO SEASON - The West Nile and other mosquito borne illnesses are serious and potentially lethal to our population. Inspect your property NOW for any stagnant pools of water. Do not forget those empty saucers, decorative pots, old tires, pails, wheelbarrows, and ponds should have circulating, dripping water or be stocked with carnivorous fish. If you need additional help with mosquito control, please contact the borough office at 412-241-7113.

  • New advisories "Marcellus Shale Primer" (2011) and "Energy Efficient Lighting Update" (2013) are available on the literature rack in the lobby of the Borough Building. They contain up-to-date information on the economically and environmentally important Marcellus shale gas drilling industry in PA and on the new types of light bulbs (CFLs, LEDs, halogens) now replacing much less efficient incandescent types. Pick up your FREE copies today.

  • A cash graduation scholarship is available each spring from the C.A.E.C. and its sponsoring municipalities. Any Woodland Hills High School senior is eligible to apply by the March 31 deadline for this award. The application form is short and simple. Applicants must complete an original environmental project during one of their high school years. If you know a Churchill senior at W.H.H.S. encourage him/her to select and carry out an active project and apply for this scholarship. Suggestions for projects are on the application form, but original ideas are welcome and encouraged.

    An application form for the CAEC graduation scholarship is available at the Churchill Borough Building or from the Woodland Hills High School Guidance Office.  It can also be downloaded from the link in the section below under "Environmental Award Available to W. H. High School Seniors."

Churchill Area Environmental Council

hawkAdvisories, Fliers, and Leaflets 

Periodically, the Council develops and distributes advisories and fliers on timely environmental issues affecting our communities. For your convenience, you may download these from the list below. Copies are also available at the Borough Building.

3 Rivers Wet Weather

The 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program is committed to improving the quality of Allegheny County's water resources by helping communities address the issue of untreated sewage and stormwater overflowing into the region's waterways. Learn more at www.3riversweteather.org

Environmental Award Available to High School Seniors

The Churchill Area Environmental Council, along with its member municipalities (Chalfant, Churchill, Forest Hills, and Wilkins) makes an annual monetary award to a Woodland Hills High School senior who completes the best environmental project within the school district or the community it serves. All W.H.H.S. seniors are eligible. No preference is given to residents of any particular municipality in the school district.  

You may download an application from the following link: Churchill Area Environmental Council Graduation Award Application FormChurchill Area Environmental Council Graduation Award Application Form.

Oak Wilt Alert

Churchill Borough is home to a large number of mature oak (Quercus) tress, particularly in the aptly named Royal Oak section off Beulah Road. With homeowner help, these oaks survived the gypsy moth surge of 1990, but the trees are now threatened by an aggressive fungal disease called oak wilt. The fungus (Ceratocystis fagacearum) appears to be an eastern U.S. native, unlike the chestnut blight that was introduced from Asia. However, oak wilt has the potential to be equally lethal, especially to black, red, and pin oaks, all of which can die of wilt infections in a matter of weeks or months. White oaks die more slowly, one branch at a time, over several years.

Infection occurs when the fungus moves underground across the connected roots of closely planted oaks. It can also be carried considerable distances from tree to tree by sap beetles and other insects that feed on the fruity-smelling spore mats breaking through the bark of newly killed trees. Symptoms of oak wilt infection vary somewhat, but include rapid leaf discoloration, wilting, leaf drop, and death. The top of the tree crown is the first to be affected, suddenly undergoing an off-green to bronze color in early summer followed by severe wilting, leaf drop, and death. There are other afflictions suffered by oaks (e.g. anthracnose, oak decline, borer insects, and the gypsy moth defoliations mentioned earlier), so accurate diagnosis of oak wilt by a licensed arborist isWinter important before control measures are considered. The city of Pittsburgh recently cleared several acres of infected oaks in Frick Park in a "fingers crossed" effort to block the spread of oak wilt.

If you have an oak tree on your property be aware that its life may be abruptly ended if it becomes infected. There are no known "cures", but fungicides like propiconazol can prevent oak wilt if injected into healthy, non-symptomatic trees. The treatment is expensive and creates injection wounds that may themselves become infection sites. Oaks have some natural resistance to fungal infections but it varies genetically in individual trees, as do all traits. Probably the best thing is to help your tree stay healthy throughout its natural life span.

  • Never prune an oak tree between April and November. This is good advice for most tree species. Late fall through winter is the best time to do trimming because trees are dormant,their sap is quiescent, and the spread of disease through fresh cuts is minimized.
  • Avoid injuring healthy trees. Keep mowers and other equipment from hitting tree trunks. If Injury occurs accidentally or from a severe storm treat the wounds with wound dressing or tree "paint". Such treatments are not advised for general use since they seal in water along with infections, but they may protect against oak wilt during the vulnerable growing season. They should not be used during the dormant months.
  • Irrigate your oak tree during prolonged droughts to minimize water stress. One inch of water per week is the general rule and drip methods are best. Water early in the day for maximum effectiveness, allowing time for surfaces to dry before the evening cool that encourages fungal growth and slug foraging.
  • Feed your tree in early spring and again in early summer when the need for minerals and water is especially high. Use an all-purpose garden fertilizer with no added herbicides or insecticides, following package directions carefully.
  • Never transport "found wood" from other areas for use at your home. If not properly dried and treated, it may harbor the spores of pathogens, including oak wilt. Chestnut blight was probably brought to this country in imported lumber around 1900, and by 1940 all mature American chestnut trees were wiped out.

Oak wilt has been known in the U.S. since 1944 but its impact has been felt only since the 1980's. Its increasing effect may be related to genetic changes in the fungus, aging of oak trees, increased development and construction wounding in oak woodlands, weather extremes and climate shifts, or other factors. Much more research is needed but our magnificent oaks may be running out of time.

For more information on Oak Wilt, Search The USDA website for Oak Wilt

Churchill Area Environmental Council Membership List

Chalfant Borough, 218 North Avenue, 412-823-4412
Chad Hoover
Wendy Rocco
Laurie Williams

Churchill Borough, 2300 William Penn Highway, 412-241-7113
Joan Gottlieb
Susan Keane
Tess Philipps
John Weber

Forest Hills Borough, 2071 Ardmore Boulevard, 412-351-4141
Nancy Bernard

Wilkins Township, 110 Peffer Road, 412-824-6650
Janet Adams
Michael Boyd
Carol Pena
Heidi Steele

Members may be contacted through their municipal offices.

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