To Protect, Conserve and Enhance by Kenneth C. Wolensky

Book Review presents reviews of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects by noted scholars, historians and journalists.

Fish & Boat CommissionTo Protect, Conserve, and Enhance: The History of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
by Kenneth C. Wolensky
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, 400 pp., paper $19.95

As part of the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1866, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) has published its own comprehensive history. Author Wolensky, through interviews, exhaustive review of PFBC records, and his own observations as a commonwealth historian, chronologically illuminates the facts and stories about the people, places, policies and events that compose the agency’s rich conservation legacy. Meeting minutes, annual reports, magazine and newspaper articles, special publications, and photographs are among the book’s primary sources.

Wolensky indicates that throughout its history PFBC has made protection, conservation and enhancement of Pennsylvania’s waters a top priority in order to provide easily accessible, safe and affordable fishing and boating recreation close to home and to make people aware of these opportunities. He emphasizes the paramount effort of the agency to maintain healthy fish and reptiles by managing their habitats in the state’s streams, rivers and lakes. Without this, there would be limited or no recreational opportunities. Wolensky observes PFBC’s key strength as an independent commonwealth agency has been strong and enduring leadership from dedicated commissioners, executive directors, employees and field volunteers in partnership with other local, state and federal agencies and conservation groups.

The book contains an abundance of historic photographs depicting the work of PFBC and examples of fine wildlife art used in its programs complied by the agency’s Outreach, Marketing & Education Division Chief Ted Walke. A detailed bibliography lists sources of information and an appendix conveniently lists Pennsylvania fish species by watershed.

It became obvious to me while reading and reflecting on this book that PFBC is a premier conservation organization that has stood the test of time, and it continually evolves to carry out its mission to “protect, conserve, and enhance the commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities.”

Wayne W. Kober
Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Project advisory board and Ralph W. Abele Scholarship Fund board of directors