River Walk Trail
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Residents are calling on Penelec to replant vegetation along the James Mayer Riverswalk Trail after Penelec sprayed the trail with herbicides. But according to Penelec officials, spraying herbicides is a vital part of upkeep on power lines. Johnstown resident, Christine Dahlin started to notice the trail where she would go on runs and take her children to play had vegetation that was dying. Dahlin took to Facebook to share photos of the brown, dying plants along the trail. "I came out and took pictures of the trail and shared it on social media to go, hey Johnstown, look at what happened to this beautiful trail. And there are so many people that use this trail system," said Dahlin. She says people are concerned about more than just the looks of the trail. They say the dead trees and plants are also disrupting the ecosystem in the area. All these reasons made Dahlin start an online petition. "People are concerned about erosion, the butterflies. We have monarch butterflies that rely on milkweed that grows along there and the milkweed has been killed and just generally the biodiversity and just the fact that it looks awful now," said Dahlin. According to Penelec official, Todd Myers, Penelec must spray herbicides and do vegetation maintenance like this where any power lines are located. He says that Penelec's main responsibility is the reliability of electricity for customers. Penelec officials also say a vegetation management program is one of the most important things to maintain electric system and restore power quickly after storms. "Penelec could be careful. They could have been careful how they sprayed but they went the easy, cheap route," said Dahlin. The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority oversees the Riverwalk trail. The executive director, Ciff Kitner, says the authority will work with Penelec in the future. Dahlin hopes Penelec will share detailed plans with the public of how they plan to manage trails and power lines. "And something very specific that would outline what species they will cut rather than spray with herbicides. The time of year they are going to engage in spraying how frequently, they are going to spray. I think that is the only way we can be sure that they are not going to do this kind devastation again," said Dahlin.