Published first on the Progress News, April 26, 2021

Spring 2021 feels like a breath of fresh air on so many levels.  We still have a few snowstorms to deal with – both literal and metaphorical – but there is a definite sense of hope and potential floating around with all the pollen.  For the ORA, as with many other organizations, 2020 was a time for adapting, reflecting, prioritizing, and strategizing.  And paperwork.  So. Much. Paperwork.  This spring, we are excited to once again be able to focus, with renewed vigor, on our on-the-ground efforts.

This past Saturday, the 24th, was a busy day for many of us in the region, with the ORA dedicating the Oil Creek Memorial Landing in Oil City, ARTinCC holding a groundbreaking ceremony in Foxburg for the future trailhead of the Foxburg-to-Emlenton section of Rail Trail, and Emlenton Borough celebrating the proclamation of an Eco Corridor along their stretch of the Allegheny River.  All three events highlighted the importance our communities place on the stewardship and enjoyment of our natural environment, and we are extremely excited to see these and other local initiatives continue to take shape.

For anyone who was looking forward to helping out with the Oil City Community Clean-Up Day, you still have your chance!  Unexpectedly heavy snow delayed the event, so eager cleaners can now meet up at the Oil City Town Square at 9am this coming Wednesday, the 28th.  The Great American Cleanup is in effect all across the country through June 20th, so there is plenty of time for you to organize a clean-up in your own community, too!  You can check out more information on the program from the parent organization, Keep America Beautiful, at kab.org.

Many other projects and events are in the works for the coming months, as well.  Down here in the Valley, we are looking forward to May 15th, which promises to be a family-friendly day of fun.  The day will kick off at 10am with Spring at the Spring, a “multi-station nature-themed morning of fun” at Mineral Springs Park in Emlenton, led by the artsy folks of the Chicken Coop Art Studio.  Kids of all ages are invited to learn about the history of Mineral Springs, dance, make a suncatcher, and so much more between 10 and 12.

After working up an appetite with the music, arts, nature, and history activities from the Coop, take your pick from one of our many Valley eateries, with your choice of everything from classic Italian to pub food.  The folks of Otto’s, Little It Deli, the Plaza Restaurant, Foxburg Pizza, Divani Chocolatier, Foxburg Wine Cellars, the Allegheny Grille, or Bob’s Place would be delighted to see you, and you might even be able to catch a peek at the under-construction Emlenton Brew Haus!

Once you’ve filled your belly, head up to the AC Valley School grounds in Foxburg to join us for the official ribbon-cutting of our new community farm at 1pm.  As always, check out acrivervalley.org or follow us on Facebook for more info.  There’s so much going on around the Valley and around the region.  See you out there soon!