Ralph W. Abele
Conservation Heritage Award
Dr. William R. Kodrich
Dr. William R. Kodrich was named the recipient of the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award for 1993. The honor is the highest recognition
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission bestowes on persons who distinguish themselves in the
cause of conservation.
Dr. Kodrich was honored as a long time contributor to environmental efforts,
dedicating his time, energy and money to the conservation of Pennsylvania's natural resources,
especially aquatic resources. He was a charter member and first president of the Iron Furnace
Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Clarion County. He also served as National director of Trout
Unlimited and president of the PA Council of Trout Unlimited, of which he chaired the
Environmental Committee for many years.
He was a life member of the PA Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, and a member of the following
organizations: Concerned Sportsmen, Clarion County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (served as
treasurer), American Fisheries Society. Ecological Society of America, Board of Directors of
Falling Springs Greenway Inc., Advisory Board of the Pennsylvania State University School of
Forestry, Windsor Associates and the Pennsylvania Wildlife Society.
Dr. Kodrich has been a long-time friend to the Fish and Boat Commission. He has served as a
Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer (DWCO) for over 20 years. He has helped train other DWCO's
on how to collect relevant data for prosecution of water pollution problems. His research on the
impact of harvest of largemouth bass populations contributed to the Commission's decision to
establish minimum size limits, which helps maintain a larger population of of bass of
reproducing size. As a Professor of Biology at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where he
served as major advisor for 42 graduate students who earned a master's with a major in fisheries
biology or aquatic ecology, Bill has had a hand in the education of a number of Commission
biologists as well as ones for other state's fish and game agencies, federal agencies and
private consulting firms.
His contributions to conservation efforts in Pennsylvania and especially in the Clarion
County area are too numerous to list, but here are a few:
- Instructor for Clarion County Conservation School each summer.
- Collected, identified, labeled, and preserved fish from major drainages in western PA,
including the Ohio River, Potomac River and Great Lakes. These are located in the Clarion
University of PA permanent fish collection for educational purposes.
- Led or participated in efforts to prevent mine permits that would have adversely
affected fish populations in several PA streams.
- Instrumental in securing grants for stream reclamation projects.
Each year Dr. Kodrich traveled to schools to work with elementary and high school students, to
state parks to work with youth and adults, and to other locations to conduct hands-on field
trips related to water ecology. He is recognized by the courts as as an expert witness on water
quality, testifying at hearings and trials on behalf of state agencies, individuals, citizen
groups and sportsman associations.
The PFBC established the Abele Award to recognize citizens of Pennsylvania who have made
outstanding contributions to the protection, conservation and enhancement of the aquatic
resources of the Commonwealth. The award serves as a memorial to
Abele for his steadfast and courageous work in protecting and conserving our natural
resources. Kodrich is the 3rd person to be given the Abele Award,
joining Ken Sink and Dr. Maurice Goddard.
Ralph W. Abele served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission from 1972
until 1987. His goal was to protect Commonwealth waters, conserve our aquatic resources and
enhance fishing and boating in Pennsylvania. He was quoted as proclaiming: “If the fish can't
survive in the water, there are serious problems for man.” Ralph’s “Resource First” philosophy
continues to guide the Fish and Boat Commission today.