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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 Ralph 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.