The sight of ospreys nesting at the overlook by Wallenpaupack Dam has become something local residents have come to expect for more than 20 years.
So when the nesting platform originally put up by PPL Electric Utilities came down during a wind storm early in 2018, Meg Welker knew what had to be done.
The senior environmental professional, who has been with PPL for 22 years and has lived near the overlook for more than three decades, quickly began making arrangements for a new nesting platform.
Hours after the new platform went up in April, the ospreys were back, and Welker couldn’t be happier.
“I believe it’s our obligation to support the communities we work in because we’re truly a part of them,” Welker said. “And this is such a nice place to work.”
Welker has spent much of her career at PPL being a steward of the environment. A graduate of Penn State University with a degree in environmental resource management, she is responsible for protecting wetlands, watersheds and waterways at PPL projects that are designed to improve service and reliability to the company’s 1.4 million customers.
She has become the local contact for various state and federal agencies. She’s a board member of the Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District, a nonprofit organization set up to protect the lake.
She helped lead the effort to add the osprey platform at Wallenpaupack in 1997. In the two decades since, about 40 chicks have hatched at the location. PPL has worked with the state Game Commission to build similar platforms throughout the utility’s service territory.
The platforms provide the once-threatened birds with an alternative spot to nest so they don’t have to build nests on high-voltage transmission line structures.
Welker said she’s never felt more proud of the work that PPL does, particularly its environmental efforts, which also include recycling old wooden utility poles, making use of a fleet of hybrid electric vehicles, and giving out thousands of trees to schools, community organizations and local governments.
“The investment we’re putting into our grid and what we do to get projects completed is critical to the success of our customers, our communities and our company,” she said. “And what we’re doing in the environmental realm is essential to getting that work done.
“And being able to do all of that in an environmentally responsible way … you just have to feel good going home at night.”