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PSD Employees Help Shore up Arkansas Riverbank

November 16, 2016

Pratt & Whitney volunteers Kevin Darnell and Tom Samuelson overlook the oxbow area of the Kings River prior to planting trees.
Cliff Smart, a volunteer with The Nature Conservancy, looks on as P&W's Kevin Darnell and Tom Samuelson plant trees along the Kings River oxbow area.
The volunteer team waters the trees after planting.
The Pratt & Whitney Kings River project team: (from left) Brad Rekus, Kevin Darnell, Tom Samuelson, Randy Grigg, Mike Williams, Angela Harris, Skyler Lowery and Brittany Lowery.

A group of employees from Pratt & Whitney PSD in Springdale, Ark., recently planted 125 trees to help nonprofit organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC) kick off the Kings River Oxbow Restoration Project in Eureka Springs, Ark.  The trees, which were purchased in part through a Green Power Grant, will help reduce sediment discharge caused by a 2015 flood, keeping the river cleaner, safer and more beautiful. Sediment accounts for one-third of all pollution in the Kings River.

"We lost 65 feet of riverbank in the December 2015 flood, which effectively discharged 1,300 dump truck loads of sediment into the Kings,” said John Chapman, TNC watershed restoration program director.  “The new trees, which are part of a two-week conservation project, will shore up the banks and reduce further pollution of not only the Kings River but also Table Rock Lake.”

For some employees, the project held personal connections. “I volunteered for this project because my mother grew up on a farm along the Kings River in Berryville, Ark.,” said Angela Harris, Pratt & Whitney metal lab calibration technician. “As a child, I heard countless stories of her swimming, fishing and growing up along the river.  Planting trees and preserving the habitat for future generations is a way of honoring her and my grandparents as previous stewards of the land in this area.”

The volunteers earned high praise.  “We were impressed with the camaraderie, duty sharing, help and caring attitude of the employees,” said Tim Snell, associate state director, TNC.  “They listened carefully to instructions from our forester and biologist, understood the scope of the larger project and the importance of their participation and performed the planting as quickly as any group in our history.  Their enthusiasm for the natural and sustainable elements of the project was refreshing.”

Pratt & Whitney’s Green Power Grant program empowers employees to engage with their communities to improve their local environments. Through the program, Pratt & Whitney provides grants to employee-led organizations and projects that enhance, protect or preserve the environment, or teach others the importance of doing so. Since the program’s inception in 2008, Pratt & Whitney has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in its global site communities to causes championed by its employees.