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Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force Calls for Strengthening Security, More Mental Health Services, Community Connections

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today announced the common themes that will be addressed in an upcoming report from the Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force, created by Gov. Wolf and the Auditor General in February after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. This announcement comes following the passage of Gov. Wolf’s 2018-19 bi-partisan budget, which includes $60 million for a School Safety Fund to strengthen security and mental health services in schools.

Appointed by the governor, the task force held a series of six regional roundtables at schools from April through June to listen to students, parents, school officials, school nurses and other health care professionals, law enforcement, education organizations and community members about their ideas to improve safety and security.

“I commend the work of all those who participated in the task force – especially the students – for providing their incredible perspectives,” said Governor Wolf. “It was clear in every region of the state that keeping our schools safe requires a holistic approach focused on students and our communities so that our classrooms can be focused on learning.

“While I will continue to push for progress on gun safety reform, including universal background checks and keeping guns from dangerous individuals, this work is important to ensure we’re doing everything we can to protect our students and teachers.”

“In the last few months, it’s been my privilege to travel the state meeting students who are deeply invested in each other’s safety,” said Auditor General DePasquale. “This generation of students is smart, informed, and eager to positively impact the world around them. It’s become clear to me during these discussions that each school has its own unique set of challenges – but some major themes remain consistent across the state. Our regional conversations helped identify those themes; now it’s time to take what we learned and turn it into action.”

Based on the expertise and opinions shared during the regional roundtables and hundreds of comments provided through an online feedback form, the task force identified multiple themes, including recommendations, barriers and opportunities. The overarching themes to strengthen school security heard by the task force include:

  • Improved communication and information sharing
  • Enhanced social and emotional learning
  • Increased access to mental health services, including more health professionals in schools
  • Building community connections
  • Effectively integrating law enforcement and school resource officers
  • Providing guidance on establishing priorities for schools
  • Providing schools with more resources

Read the full content of the initial findings here.

Other members of the task force included vice-chairs Derin Myers, Acting Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; Mark DiRocco, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Bonita Allen, President of the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association; Judy Morgitan, Immediate Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners; and Dolores McCracken, President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Each meeting included over 40 community participants invited by the vice-chairs to create a discussion focused on the needs of that region.

Several members of the Wolf Administration provided support to the task force, including Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, Acting State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick, and Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Deputy Secretary Lynn Kovich.

The task force plans to release its final report before the start of the 2018-19 school year.

The 2018-19 budget, which the governor signed last week, includes the newly created School Safety Fund, a $60 million investment to help individual school districts meet their local needs by funding a wide variety of programs aimed to keep students and teachers safe.

The funding will be awarded to schools in the form of grants to cover numerous expenses and programs, including physical building upgrades, security equipment, violence prevention education programs, teacher training, alternative education programs, and special and individualized mentoring programs.

Also included is a new program that will allow the Pennsylvania State Police to create three regional Risk and Vulnerability Teams to help schools undergo security and safety assessments.

And, the state will be creating a confidential, statewide tip line that will allow students and teachers to anonymously report potentially dangerous situations or individuals that involve schools.

“This new money aligns with the themes we heard during the task force and will help address the needs of school districts by providing an immediate infusion of funds, so our schools can increase security while creating programs that meet the safety needs of their schools and communities,” Gov. Wolf said.

Education Secretary: State Budget Continues Strong Investments in Students, Job Training

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Harrisburg, PA – State Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today outlined the investments in education championed by Governor Tom Wolf in the 2018-19 budget and over the last four years that are helping Pennsylvania’s students by restoring education funding, increasing enrollment in kindergarten and pre-k, bolstering graduation rates, and training more students for careers.
“Over the past four years, Governor Wolf has fought hard to reinvest in Pennsylvania’s schools,” Rivera said. “With this increased support, students across Pennsylvania are now learning in smaller classes, with more teachers, and from new and innovative programs developed by their schools.”
Rivera noted that in this year’s budget, Governor Wolf secured an additional $100 million in basic education funding, bringing the total increase over four years to more than $538 million that will be distributed using the fair funding formula enacted by the Wolf Administration in 2016. The formula provides for equitable funding for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts.
Secretary Rivera added that the 2018-19 budget also lays out a plan to re-imagine how the commonwealth provides workforce training, as well as advancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
The budget strengthens the state’s investment in workforce development and job training with a $10 million increase for secondary CTE programs and $30 million to launch the governor’s PAsmart initiative. PAsmart is a first-of-its-kind investment to align and strengthen workforce efforts at multiple state agencies by providing $20 for the fast-growing fields of STEM and computer science education and $10 million to expand apprenticeships and job training.
“By connecting business and industry leaders with educators in our classrooms we ensure our students are learning the skills that are in demand by Pennsylvania employers, specifically STEM and computer science professions,” said Rivera. “In today’s job market, it is more critical than ever that students leave high school with strong academic and technical skills that prepare them for success in college, career and community.”
Pennsylvania has more than 16,000 approved career and technical education programs, and over the past three years the number of CTE students earning industry-recognized credentials has increased by 32.2 percent and the number of credentials earned by students enrolled in CTE programs has increased by 28.4 percent.
The demand for STEM-trained workers also continues to grow, including an estimated 300,000 STEM related jobs available in Pennsylvania in 2018. The commonwealth is a national leader in STEM education, producing the fifth highest number of STEM graduates and is home to second highest number of nationally-recognized STEM ecosystems.
In addition to the PAsmart initiative, the 2018-19 budget includes increases of:
·         $42.5 million for higher education;
·         $15 million for special education;
·         $25 million for pre-school and Head Start programs; and
·         $21.6 million to support early intervention services.
Since Governor Wolf took office, $115 million has been invested in the Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs.
The budget also maintains $1 million in grant funding for It’s on Us PA, launched by the Wolf Administration in 2016, to combat campus sexual violence.
The budget also invests more than $61.4 million for school and community safety, including a $1.4 million increase for the Safe Schools Initiative, which provides grants to schools, police departments, and municipalities to support safer schools.
“This year’s investments further demonstrate the Wolf Administration’s commitment to investing in Pennsylvania’s schools and ensuring students are college and career ready when they graduate,” he added.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov

DEP Reminds Homeowners to Check for Mine Subsidence Risks

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Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania homeowners have new tools at their disposal to identify risks and insure their property from underground mine subsidence, thanks to a newly revamped website from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The new website – www.pamsi.org  – contains information for residents about known underground mine locations and possible risks for subsidence. Recently updated maps show historic mining and known coal-bearing areas that could be affected by mine subsidence from old and abandoned mines.

“Underground mining has a long history in Pennsylvania, and historic mines can still cause subsidence today,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to log on and see what their risk is, and to sign up for mine subsidence insurance if needed.”

Cracked foundations, collapsed walls, and even homes sinking into the ground are all possible impacts of underground mine subsidence, which is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance policies. A subsidence event can occur at any time and cause sudden, significant damage, often exceeding $100,000 or total loss of the structure. Mine subsidence occurs when the ground above an old or abandoned mine cavity collapses.

“DEP is continuously improving our maps and data for underground mining,” said McDonnell. “Our goal is to have the best underground mine mapping easily accessible to anyone who wants to view it, so that residents can know if they could be affected and can easily sign up for mine subsidence insurance if they need it.”

DEP administers low-cost mine subsidence insurance (MSI) coverage through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The average policy of $160,000 costs about $7 a month, and senior citizens are eligible for discounted rates.

Homeowners should visit www.pamsi.org or call 1-800-922-1678 to check if their home is over an abandoned mine and for more information on the Mine Subsidence Insurance Program.

Wolf Administration to save $27.2 Million Through Innovative Electricity Purchasing

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Harrisburg, PA –  Through an innovative approach to shopping for electricity, the Wolf administration will save an estimated $27.2 million through 2022 –  including $4.3 million in savings over the next four years for commonwealth facilities and municipal members of the COSTARS program. This is the third consecutive year the commonwealth will increase savings and decrease per kilowatt hour costs.

“My administration is continuously searching for ways to reduce costs and use innovation to improve efficiencies,” said Governor Wolf.  “This new approach to buying electricity has delivered long-term savings to the state and local governments, and I commend the Department of General Services for implementing this process.”

Before the Department of General Services launched the new approach to shopping for electricity in 2015, the commonwealth purchased electricity on shorter term, 1-2-year contracts. In 2015, the commonwealth adjusted its purchasing approach to longer term, 4-year fixed-price contracts that result in better pricing and budget stability. In addition, the volume of the commonwealth’s purchasing power is leveraged by bundling accounts to receive more favorable pricing – similar to the practices employed by large commercial electric consumers.

The commonwealth also has started the practice of shopping earlier in advance of the current contract expiration dates, allowing for more flexibility in seeking favorable rates.

The energy shopping events are held in cooperation with the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute (PSFEI) where the institute solicits the electricity accounts of the commonwealth agencies and COSTARS members for lower electricity supplier pricing.

The $27.2 million in total savings covers numerous accounts and term lengths that began to accrue in 2016 and will continue through December 2022.  These savings were generated by lowering the commonwealth’s average load-weighted cost per kilowatt hour from 5.6 cents in 2015, to a current average of 5.2 cents. This average cost includes capacity and transmission charges.

“Through our partnership with the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute, we’ve been able to develop improved approaches to how we purchase electricity and take advantage of the wholesale market in terms of favorable pricing,” Topper said. “In addition to generating these positive results, we’ve been able to expand the program to COSTARS members and pass the ability to experience those savings onto them.”

In November 2017, the commonwealth expanded its Electricity Procurement Program to COSTARS members. Since the expansion, more than $580,000 in electricity cost savings vs. prior rates have been generated. The COSTARS program allows its members – including municipalities, public authorities, school districts, and certain non-profits – to use state-awarded contracts to purchase a large variety of materials and services at lower prices.

Wolf Administration Unveils Additions to Opioid Data Dashboard, Increasing Information for Public Access

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Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf’s multi-agency Opioid Command Center announced the addition of three important datasets to Pennsylvania’s Opioid Data Dashboard, introduced in March.

“The more information we share, the more informed Pennsylvanians can become and the more we can work together to fight this epidemic from all sides,” Governor Wolf said. “The Opioid Command Center agencies are working tirelessly to collect data and make it widely available to health care professionals, treatment facilities, and the public.”

“As the opioid data dashboard grows to include more information, we are moving towards a more complete picture of the impact the disease of opioid-use disorder has on our communities,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “With this information in hand, communities can work at the grass-roots level to help prevent the disease, rescue those who are in immediate need and get their loved ones into treatment. Treatment works and recovery is possible.”

The newly added datasets include emergency naloxone doses administered by Emergency Medical Services, inmates admitted to prison who self-report opioid use, and naloxone prescriptions filled using Medicaid.

Emergency naloxone doses administered by EMS.
The data depicted in the EMS naloxone map show doses of naloxone administered by emergency medical services (EMS) providers at the scene of an emergency by county. The data are derived from EMS patient care reports completed by certified EMS providers in the field.

Inmates Admitted to Prison who Self-Report Opioid Use
All inmates sentenced to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) are assessed upon admission to prison for substance use disorder. The maps included on the dashboard show the percent of all inmates sentenced to PA DOC from each county who indicate that an opioid-based drug caused them the most serious problem, and the percent of all inmates sentenced to PA DOC from each county who indicate that they used an opioid drug in the past 12 months. These maps can be indicators of which areas of the commonwealth are experiencing high opioid use disorder issues related to criminal activity. It should be noted that this is self-report information.

Naloxone Prescriptions Filled Using Medicaid
Naloxone is a covered outpatient drug in the Medical Assistance Program. Everyone on Medicaid has unrestricted access to life-saving naloxone with no limits and no co-pays. The map shows, by county, the number of people on Medicaid filling a prescription for naloxone.

The opioid data dashboard focuses on data sets in the three main areas distinguished by Governor Wolf in his disaster declaration: prevention, rescue and treatment. It also shows data at the county-level.

On January 10, Governor Wolf signed a statewide disaster declaration for the opioid epidemic to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives. He renewed the 90-day declaration in April and the disaster declaration Opioid Command Center continues to implement the 13 initial initiatives, plus add new ones to combat the epidemic.

Governor Wolf and state agencies have been increasing efforts in the fight against prescription drug abuse in multiple areas, including numerous programs and initiatives:

  • ​Working with the legislature to establish a new law limiting the number of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor and to individuals discharged from emergency rooms to seven days;
  • Strengthening the PDMP through the legislative process so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines;
  • Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients, including guidelines specific to orthopedics and sports medicine;
  • Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
  • Teaming with the legislature to establish education curriculum on safe prescribing for medical schools; and
  • Awarding four $1 million grants for medication-assisted treatment using a hub and spoke model for Pennsylvanians who are uninsured, under-insured or have private insurance.

For more information on the state’s efforts to battle the opioid epidemic and to view the dashboard, visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/opioid-epidemic/.

Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.5 Percent in May

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Commonwealth Sets Jobs Record for Fourteenth Consecutive Month 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) released its employment situation report for May 2018.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point from April to 4.5 percent, the lowest rate since September 2007. This was the second monthly decrease in the rate after 10 consecutive months at 4.8 percent. The commonwealth’s rate remained above the U.S. rate, which fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.8 percent. Over the year, the Pennsylvania unemployment rate declined by four-tenths of a percentage point.
The estimated number of Pennsylvania residents working or looking for work, known as the civilian labor force, was down 14,000 in May to 6,364,000. The labor force decline was due to a drop in unemployment, while resident employment was up slightly over the month. Employment and unemployment both declined since last May, by 8,000 and 21,000, respectively.
The estimated number of jobs in Pennsylvania, referred to as total nonfarm jobs, was up 2,300 from April to a record high of 6,014,400. Highlights from this month’s jobs report include:
·      Fourteenth consecutive month jobs established a record high level
·      Jobs were up in seven of the 11 industry supersectors
·      Professional & business services set a record high for the ninth time in the past 10 months
·      Construction experienced the largest supersector gain, up 1,900 in May
·      Education & health services had the largest decline, down 1,900 from April’s record high
 
Since May 2017, total nonfarm jobs in Pennsylvania were up 1.3 percent. During this timeframe, nine supersectors in the commonwealth added jobs with increases ranging from 31,700 in education & health services to 2,000 in other services.
Additional information is available on the L&I website at www.dli.pa.gov or by following us on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.
Note: The above data are seasonally adjusted. Seasonally adjusted data provide the most valid month-to-month comparison.
 
MEDIA CONTACT: Penny Ickes, 717-787-7530 or dlipress@pa.gov
Editor’s Note: A breakdown of Pennsylvania’s employment statistics follows.
Current Labor Force Statistics
Seasonally Adjusted
(in thousands)
        Change from Change from
  May April May April 2018 May 2017
  2018 2018 2017 volume percent volume percent
PA              
Civilian Labor Force 6,364 6,378 6,429 -14 -0.2% -65 -1.0%
Employment 6,081 6,080 6,116 1 0.0% -35 -0.6%
Unemployment 283 298 313 -15 -5.0% -30 -9.6%
Rate 4.5 4.7 4.9 -0.2 —- -0.4 —-
               
U.S.              
Civilian Labor Force 161,539 161,527 159,729 12 0.0% 1,810 1.1%
Employment 155,474 155,181 152,892 293 0.2% 2,582 1.7%
Unemployment 6,065 6,346 6,837 -281 -4.4% -772 -11.3%
Rate 3.8 3.9 4.3 -0.1 —- -0.5 —-
Note: June 2018 labor force and nonfarm jobs statistics will be released July 20, 2018.
 

 

Pennsylvania Nonagricultural Wage and Salary Employment
Seasonally Adjusted
(in thousands)
Change from Change from
May April May April 2018 May 2017
2018 2018 2017 volume percent volume percent
Total Nonfarm Jobs 6,014.4 6,012.1 5,936.2 2.3 0.0% 78.2 1.3%
 
Goods Producing Industries 851.7 849.1 836.4 2.6 0.3% 15.3 1.8%
  Mining & Logging 28.7 28.3 26.3 0.4 1.4% 2.4 9.1%
  Construction 258.1 256.2 248.8 1.9 0.7% 9.3 3.7%
  Manufacturing 564.9 564.6 561.3 0.3 0.1% 3.6 0.6%
Service Providing Industries 5,162.7 5,163.0 5,099.8 -0.3 0.0% 62.9 1.2%
  Trade, Transportation & Utilities 1,131.0 1,129.2 1,124.4 1.8 0.2% 6.6 0.6%
  Information 80.7 81.1 83.7 -0.4 -0.5% -3.0 -3.6%
  Financial Activities 324.7 323.6 320.8 1.1 0.3% 3.9 1.2%
  Professional & Business Services 816.4 815.2 800.1 1.2 0.1% 16.3 2.0%
  Education & Health Services 1,273.7 1,275.6 1,242.0 -1.9 -0.1% 31.7 2.6%
  Leisure & Hospitality 574.4 573.3 563.3 1.1 0.2% 11.1 2.0%
  Other Services 263.5 265.2 261.5 -1.7 -0.6% 2.0 0.8%
  Government 698.3 699.8 704.0 -1.5 -0.2% -5.7 -0.8%
For a more detailed breakdown of seasonally adjusted jobs data at the sector level, please contact the
Center for Workforce Information & Analysis at 1-877-4WF-DATA, or visit www.workstats.dli.pa.gov
Note: June 2018 labor force and nonfarm jobs statistics will be released July 20, 2018.

Route 41 (Gap Newport Pike) Overnight Lane Restrictions Scheduled for Milling in Chester County

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King of Prussia, PA – Overnight lane restrictions are scheduled on Route 41 (Gap Newport Pike) from the ramps at the U.S. 1 Interchange to Route 10 (Limestone Road) in London Grove, Londonderry and West Fallowfield townships, on Sunday, June 24, through Thursday, June 28, from 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM, for milling operations as part of an improvement project to repair and resurface 40 miles of state highway in Chester County, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today.

Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling through the work area because slowdowns may occur. The contractor’s schedule is dependent on the weather.

State highways completed under this resurfacing project include:

• Route 52 (Lenape Road) between Route 926 (Street Road) and Creek Road in Pennsbury, Pocopson and Birmingham townships;
• Route 82 (Doe Run Road) from east of Tapeworm Road to Strasburg Road in West Marlborough and East Fallowfield townships;
• Strasburg Road between Route 372 (Valley Road) and Route 82 (Doe Run Road) in Sadsbury and East Fallowfield townships; and
• Chadds Ford Road/Creek Road between the Delaware state line and the Delaware County line in Pennsbury Township.

Additional state highways scheduled for resurfacing under this contract include:

• Route 472 (Hickory Hill Road/Market Street/Lancaster Avenue/Lancaster Pike) between Freese Road and the Lancaster County line in East Nottingham and Lower Oxford townships and Oxford Borough;
• Saginaw Road between Route 472 (Hickory Hill Road) and Big Elk Creek in East Nottingham Township;
• Cypress Street/Baltimore Pike/State Street from west of Thompson Road to west of Mill Road in New Garden and Kennett townships;
• Route 352 (North Chester Road/Sproul Road) between Route 3 (West Chester Pike) and U.S. 30 (Lancaster Avenue) in Westtown, East Goshen and East Whiteland townships;
• Northbrook Road between Brandywine Drive and Route 842 (Unionville Wawaset Road) in West Bradford and Pocopson townships;
• 5th Avenue/Elm Street/Black Horse Road/Black Horse Hill Road between Business U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) and Caln Road in the City of Coatesville and Valley and Caln townships; and
• Faggs Manor Road between Route 926 (Street Road) and Route 41 (Gap Newport Pike) in Londonderry Township.

Under this improvement project, PennDOT is milling the existing roadway surface and repaving the state highways with new asphalt. The new pavement will seal the roadways and provide motorists with a smoother riding surface.

Allan A. Myers, LP, of Worcester, Montgomery County, is the general contractor on the $7,959,000 project, which is financed with 100 percent state funds from Act 89, Pennsylvania’s Transportation Plan.

Work on the entire project is expected to be completed in October 2018.

CWD CASES MULTIPLY IN PENNSYLVANIA

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HARRISBURG, PA – The number of chronic wasting disease cases continues to multiply in Pennsylvania, and more of the state’s residents are being impacted by rules that aim to slow the spread of the disease, which always is fatal to the deer and elk it infects.

In 2017, chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in 78 free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania.

That’s more than three times the number of free-ranging, CWD-positive deer documented in the state in 2016, when 25 were detected.

Most of the new free-ranging positives – 75 of them – either were within or near the boundary of Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2) in southcentral Pennsylvania. Three free-ranging CWD-positives were within or near DMA 3 in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Both of these DMAs have been expanded as a result of CWD-positive deer being detected near their boundaries.

And with the creation earlier this year of DMA 4, which was established after CWD was detected at a captive deer farm in Lancaster County, more than 5,895 square miles within Pennsylvania lie within DMAs, in which special rules apply to hunters and residents.

It’s unlawful to feed deer within DMAs. Hunters are prohibited from transporting high-risk parts (generally the head and backbone) from deer they harvest within a DMA to points outside a DMA. And the use or field possession of urine-based deer attractants also is prohibited within DMAs.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans stressed the importance of becoming familiar and complying with these rules.

“The escalating number of CWD detections and the sudden emergence of this disease in new parts of the state should put all Pennsylvanians on guard to the threat CWD poses and the disease’s potential to have damaging impacts on Pennsylvania’s deer and deer-hunting tradition,” Burhans said. “It’s important for each of us to take this threat seriously and do all we can to slow the spread of the disease where it exists.

“By discontinuing feeding of deer and curbing other behavior that induces deer to congregate, and potentially spread disease, and by responsibly disposing of high-risk deer parts and not transporting them outside DMAs, those living within DMAs can do their part in helping fight CWD,” Burhans said.

 

CWD sampling in 2017

In 2017, the Pennsylvania Game Commission tested 7,910 free-ranging deer and 128 elk for CWD. More than half of these deer – 4,753 – were associated with DMAs 2 and 3. Samples from 3,304 deer from DMA 2 and 1,449 deer from DMA 3 were tested.

And only within or near these DMAs did free-ranging deer test positive.

With the additional 78 CWD-positives, a total of 125 free-ranging CWD-positive deer have been detected in Pennsylvania since 2012 – all of them within DMAs 2 and 3.

CWD sampling increased in 2017, compared to the 5,707 deer and 110 elk collected in 2016 and tested. This largely is due to the Game Commission’s decision to provide free CWD testing for deer that hunters harvest within DMAs.

More than 1,533 deer harvested by hunters within DMAs were tested, at no cost to the hunter, after hunters deposited the heads from their deer in collection boxes set up in public areas. And 28 CWD-positive deer were identified through the collection boxes.

Since 2002, the Game Commission has tested over 69,000 deer for CWD.

 

Expanded DMAs

In a state where CWD has been a growing problem, it’s important for hunters and residents to stay up-to-date on how DMA boundaries might have shifted due to the detection of new CWD-positives.

DMAs 2 and 3 have been expanded due to 2017 CWD sampling, and the newly established DMA 4 was put into place in February.

The most up-to-date maps and descriptions of DMA boundaries always can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov on the Chronic Wasting Disease page.

Due to an early print deadline and the number of samples that were tested for CWD, an updated DMA 2 map could not be included in the 2018-19 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.

DMA 2 now totals more than 4,614 square miles and includes parts of Juniata, Mifflin and Perry counties, in addition to all or parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

Meanwhile, DMA 3 has been expanded to more than 916 square miles. It now includes parts of Armstrong, Cambria and Clarion counties, as well as parts of Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties.

And DMA 4 in parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counites encompasses 364 square miles.

Turn-by-turn descriptions of all DMA boundaries are available in the Game Commission’s executive order on CWD available on the Chronic Wasting Disease page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

While hunters are prohibited from removing high-risk deer parts from DMAs, the meat, hide and antlers attached to a clean skull plate may be removed from a DMA.

High-risk parts are where the CWD prion concentrates. They are: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes, and lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone (vertebra); spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft material is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord material; and brain-tanned hide.

 

DMAP within DMAs

The Deer Management Assistance Program again will be employed within Pennsylvania’s DMAs in the 2018-19 deer seasons.

As with DMAP permits allocated elsewhere, hunters can obtain up to two permits in each unit. Each permit allows for the harvest of one antlerless deer, and the permits can be used within any open deer season – including the antlered-only firearms deer season.

Hunters with permits for DMA 4 (Unit Number 3468) can use them anywhere within the DMA. DMA 3 is split into three DMAP units: from north to south, Units 3466, 3045 and 3461. Hunters with permits for any of these units can use them within the unit’s defined boundary.

And there are six units within DMA 2: Units 3460, 2874, 3458, 2875, 4359 and 3468.

Maps and boundary descriptions for all units within DMAs are available on the Chronic Wasting Disease page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

Because DMAP units established within DMAs contain a mix of public and private land, hunters who obtain permits for these units need to make certain they have permission to hunt on land within the DMAP units.

DMAP permits cost $10.90 each and will be available beginning June 18.

All DMAP permit holders are required to submit reports on their success, regardless of whether a permit is used to harvest a deer. Hunters will be encouraged to provide deer heads for CWD testing. Intensive testing within these areas provides better understanding of distribution of disease across the landscape.

 

More on CWD

First identified in 1967, CWD affects members of the cervid family, including all species of deer, elk and moose. To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the disease is always fatal to the cervids it infects.

As a precaution, CDC recommends people avoid eating meat from deer and elk that look sick or that test positive for CWD.

More information on CWD can be found at CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs of CWD include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death.

Much more information on CWD, as well as a video showing hunters how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website

EPA Plans to Award $213,000 to Erie County, Pennsylvania for Water Quality Monitoring at Beaches

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Water Quality Monitoring at Beaches

PHILADELPHIA (June 27, 2018) – As peak beach season arrives, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to award approximately $213,000 to Erie County Pennsylvania to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs along the shores of Lake Erie.

Enjoying the beach is a quintessential pastime for Americans every summer,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Through EPA’s BEACH grants, we are ensuring communities across the country can keep their beaches safe and enjoyable for all.”

Under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, EPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial and tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches.

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic office expects to award the funds to Erie County contingent upon eligibility requirements and availability of funding.

“In addition to helping measure pollution in the water near beaches, EPA is pleased to help states, tribes, territories, and local governments inform people about the threats to beaches and opportunities to protect them,” said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Through this program, EPA is improving public access to information about the quality of water at our beaches.”

When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.

Since 2002, state and local governments, territories, and tribes have used more than $157 million in EPA BEACH Act grants to monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources, and report results of monitoring and notification activities to EPA. Grant funding under the BEACH ACT is part of a broader EPA effort to find and eliminate sources of water pollution that contribute to beach closures.

For more information about what EPA is doing to protect America’s beaches: https://www.epa.gov/beaches/learn-epas-role-protecting-beaches

As EPA Repeals and Delays, Environmentalists Turn to Courts

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Environmental advocates say the federal courts are serving an increasingly critical role in protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Since Scott Pruitt took over as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, he has repealed or delayed more than 30 environmental regulations, including bedrock provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. According to Patrice Simms, vice president for litigation at the environmental law firm EarthJustice, that organization already has filed 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration to try to preserve regulations that protect public health.

“The agency is undertaking this effort largely without the benefit of clear justifications and detailed records and data that explain what the agency is doing, why it’s doing it and what the impacts will be,” Simms said.

The administration claims that environmental regulations slow economic growth. But critics contend that the EPA disregards the economic value of preserving public health and the environment.

For example, 17 Pennsylvania counties are out of compliance with minimum standards set by the Clean Air Act. Simms said when the EPA rolls back regulations, creates loopholes or delays enforcement of clean air rules, communities and individuals pay the price.

“It will be harder for those counties to come into compliance,” he said. “And that non-attainment, that dangerous level of air quality, will last longer and end up affecting more people.”

Smog increases the risk of heart disease, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments.

Several states, including Pennsylvania, have joined in lawsuits challenging the repeal or delay of environmental regulations. Simms pointed out that non-governmental groups have turned to the courts as well.

“Our clients are often community groups, farmworker communities, sometimes other nonprofit environmental and public-health organizations, scientists,” he said; “and we will continue to hold the government accountable to the law.”

Simms added that the EPA is increasingly challenging the legal standing of those who file lawsuits against it, and bills introduced in Congress could block some legal challenges.