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Category Archives: Environment

DCNR Offering Grants to Plant Trees Along Streams, for Snowmobile/ATV Trails

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​Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) today announced that $1 million in PENNVEST-funded grants are being made available to assist landowners with planting trees along streams in Pennsylvania to improve water quality.

Pennsylvania has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of streamside buffers by 2025.

“Simply put, we can improve the water quality in our rivers and streams by planting trees along them to slow down runoff and filter sediments and fertilizers we apply to the land,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.

To expand on the existing streamside buffer options for landowners, DCNR has a multi-functional buffer option that is eligible for these grant dollars to provide greater flexibility in landowner eligibility, buffer designs, widths, plant species and allows planting of some income-producing crops in the buffer zone. For the PENNVEST-funded grants, multi-functional buffers are preferred but not required.

“PENNVEST is pleased to be a part of this effort to expand multi-use buffers, as we believe it is imperative that we develop a sustainable funding source to support the streamside buffer goal for 2025 and beyond,” said PENNVEST Executive Director Brion Johnson.

The DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program grant round is currently open and will close September 28.

Individual landowners; businesses; non-profit organizations; local governments; and educational institutions are all eligible for the buffer grants, but must be prequalified.

Information about how to prequalify is available online on the DCNR grant portal.

Forest buffers along stream banks provide critical barriers between polluting landscapes and receiving waterways. Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings:

  • Filter the runoff of sediments and the fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops
  • Control erosion
  • Improve water quality
  • Reduce flooding
  • Cool stream temperatures
  • Improve fish habitat

The grant application period opening this week also includes $250,000 for trails and projects related to the use of snowmobiles and ATVs. Funding for Snowmobile/ATV projects is through the ATV Management Restricted Account and the Snowmobile Management Restricted Account as authorized by Act 97 of 2016. The accounts are supported by registration fees.

Trail projects include acquisition; planning; development; rehabilitation; or maintenance of designated routes on land for motorized recreation activities. This includes the purchase of equipment for trail construction or maintenance.

Interested applicants should visit DCNR’s grants portal to apply.

DCNR Releases Second Shale Gas Monitoring Report

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Reported:

07/25/2018

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced the release of the department’s second Shale Gas Monitoring Report that outlines its efforts to track, detect, and report on the impacts of gas development on Pennsylvania’s state forest lands.
“Ensuring sound management of our state forests and park lands is one of the ways DCNR carries out the responsibility as trustee of the commonwealth’s natural resources,” Dunn said. “Using science to monitor how we manage our lands, specifically related to gas development, is an important way to assess the impacts of this activity, and adapt management practices to minimize those impacts to our state forests.”
The report was released during a presentation today to the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council.
Some insights from the report:
• Gas development on state forest lands has slowed considerably since the first monitoring report in 2014, due largely to market forces and a moratorium on new leasing which has been informally in place since 2010 and was formalized by Executive Order in 2015. Many leased tracts are only built out by about 30 to 35 percent.
• While shale gas infrastructure can result in improved access to forest interior, it can also conflict with the expectations of visitors who seek more primitive, undeveloped experiences undisrupted by industrial development.
• Invasive plants are of increasing concern as their presence and quantities are on the rise. Disturbed sites are ideal for the establishment of invasive plants that often emerge early in the spring and outcompete native plants through their rapid reproduction. Monitoring for invasive species and prioritizing the control of these plants based on the species and population size will continue, and strong governing lease provisions require operators to survey and treat invasive species.
• Water quality monitoring efforts by the bureau and its partners have not raised significant concerns on state forest headwater streams to date, however these results are still relatively short-term.
• Through planning and careful siting, forest fragmentation has been minimized. Those efforts need to continue as development proceeds on existing leases or where mineral rights are not owned by the commonwealth.
The department’s shale gas monitoring program began in 2011 and continues with a 15-member monitoring team. DCNR monitors repeated measurements over time to determine trends or patterns. The report notes that while certain trends can begin to be identified after eight years, natural resource monitoring is a long-term endeavor, and it may take longer to discern other trends in resource change and conditions, particularly if development under existing leases intensifies.
Of the state’s 2.2-million-acre system, there are approximately 600,500 acres of state forest land available for gas development, either through historic DCNR-issued leases, or on areas where the commonwealth does not own the subsurface rights.

Livestock Growers Reminded to Review Revised Standard Animal Weights, Determine Effect on Their Farms

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New weights take effect October 1, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Revised standard animal weights that take effect in 2019 could reclassify some livestock operations as Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), requiring those farms to adopt new levels of compliance with nutrient management laws.

Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Program regulations include a list of standard animal weights used to calculate whether a livestock operation qualifies as a CAO. The weights are periodically adjusted to reflect trends in contemporary production agriculture. The revised weights, approved in May 2017, take effect on October 1, 2019. They are detailed in Penn State Agronomy Facts sheet 54. Farmers have the option to use other average animal weights instead of the standard weights if there is sufficient documentation to support their use.

“We’re more than a year away from the implementation of the new standard animal weights, but, since developing and improving a nutrient management plan takes time, growers should start planning now to make sure that their farms are in compliance by fall of 2019,” said Redding. “We encourage growers to calculate their farms’ true average animal weights to ensure that nutrient management plans are appropriate for their operations. Otherwise, calculate plans with the new standard animal weights to see how they may affect classifications.”

CAOs are operations that have more than 2,000 pounds of animal weight (Animal Equivalent Units or AEUs) per acre of ground available for manure application. CAFOs are operations that have greater than 1,000 AEUs, or CAOs with greater than 300 AEUs, or an operation that meets a specific head count as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, regardless of the amount of acres available to spread manure.

Operations that become newly classified as CAOs or CAFOs due to the new standard animal weights must have their nutrient management plan approved before October 1, 2019.

Current operations classified as CAOs or CAFOs must amend their nutrient management plans with the new standard animal weights within the three-year lifespan of their nutrient management plan.

“While not all agricultural operations require a nutrient management plan, they’re a good idea, regardless of farm size,” added Redding. “Nutrient management plans promote viable farms and healthy waterways, while providing some protection from liability and helping to demonstrate the agriculture community’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

More information is available at county conservation districts or with private consultants, and at the Nutrient Management Program (Act 38) website. Visit https://extension.psu.edu/programs/nutrient-management and search either “standard animal weights” or “agronomy facts 54.”

A brochure sponsored by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Ombudsman program that county conservation technicians, and others, will provide to farmers in the course of compliance outreach, is forthcoming.

Planting The Seed Tour Pitches Strategic Investments in Agriculture Workforce at Lancaster Barnstormers’ Farm Show Weekend

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Lancaster, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding visited the Lancaster Barnstormers’ Farm Show Weekend Saturday on the Planting the Seed Tour, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to highlight career and educational opportunities in agriculture. Prior to throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s game, Redding addressed 150 area agriculture leaders, emphasizing the importance of investing strategically in building the skilled workforce the industry needs in the coming decade.

“Lancaster County’s agriculture industry feeds the nation and the world,” Sec. Redding said. “To maintain the county and the commonwealth’s position as a leader in the world’s agriculture economy, it’s crucial for both government and private industry make strategic investments today. By investing in a strong workforce through agriculture education and apprenticeships, we can ensure that the next generation is prepared for meaningful careers and equipped with the skills to meet the needs of agriculture employers.”

Pennsylvania agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing several challenges, including an aging workforce. Attrition and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit of nearly 75,000 over the next decade. The Planting the Seed Tour aims to engage and educate the next generation about the many career opportunities available in Pennsylvania agriculture.

Redding commended area agriculture leaders, noting that the state’s first initiative to address a growing demand for technicians to service high-tech agricultural equipment is the result of ongoing partnerships in Lancaster County.

He also discussed Pennsylvania’s competitive advantage, and some of the additional challenges the industry must tackle to remain competitive, reviewing an economic impact study released earlier this year, along with the department’s strategic recommendations for continued success. Those recommendations include: capitalizing on branding and marketing opportunities; expanding infrastructure, including processing and manufacturing capacity, broadband, and transportation; broadening workforce development and education opportunities; and diversifying products to strengthen markets and build resiliency.

Redding also outlined immediate and short-term strategies the department is undertaking in partnership with private sector partners to address the current challenges faced by the dairy sector.

Over the past three years, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $50 million in agriculture-related economic development projects; increased support for workforce development and agricultural education to help prepare students and workers for the thousands of anticipated job openings in the industry over the next decade; and signed historic legislation that has created new markets for farmers and lowered their tax burdens. The administration is also working to expand broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, creating jobs and improving infrastructure statewide, especially in rural communities.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s programs and services, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

 

 

 

 

Wolf Administration Officials Visit State Park, Borough Job Sites of Young Workers Employed by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps

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Barnesville, Schuylkill County, PA – Today, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and other state officials visited two projects underway by the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps at Locust Lake State Park, Schuylkill County, and Clarks Summit Borough, Lackawanna County.

The highly acclaimed Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is a Wolf Administration initiative offering work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on Pennsylvania’s public lands.

The program helps protect and restore natural resources while providing young people with the knowledge to be good stewards of the environment.

“Beginning its third year of operation, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps certainly is emerging as a ‘win-win’ effort for all involved,” Dunn said. “You young men and women who will accomplish so much here at Locust Lake are indicative of the corps’ spirit and commitment I’ve seen in state parks and forests across the state.”

Dunn joined other participants at the state park event in meeting members of the Hazleton-based youth corps and visiting one of their project sites, where they are rebuilding trails and repairing fencing.

The DCNR group then traveled to Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, where Wilkes-Barre-based youth corps members are helping the local shade tree commission inventory trees.

Employed across the state in paid positions, corps members have contributed to public lands by undertaking light construction, invasive species management, and the rehabilitation of green space, shorelines, nature trails, and park and forest structures.

Initial roll-out of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps in July 2016 was financed through the Department of Labor & Industry’s Reemployment Fund. The Department of Labor & Industry remains a program co-sponsor.

The corps is based in state park and forest locations in rural and urban areas, particularly those areas close to disadvantaged communities and school districts.

Crews are dispatched within the region, working on public lands with resource and infrastructure project needs.

The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps consists of two components: a seven-week, summer program for youth between the ages of 15-18; and a 10-month program for young adults ages 18-25.

Locations were set up across the state to help facilitate participation by youth and young adults in disadvantaged communities. Crew bases include:

  • Altoona
  • Erie
  • Greensburg
  • Harrisburg
  • Hazleton
  • McConnellsburg
  • Meadville
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Reading
  • Renovo
  • Saint Marys
  • Uniontown
  • Wellsboro
  • Wilkes-Barre
  • Williamsport
  • York

To oversee the program, DCNR recently appointed Michael D. Piaskowski as manager of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. Statewide efforts are overseen by the Student Conservation Association (SCA), America’s oldest and largest youth conservation organization. For more information, visit www.thesca.org.

For more details on the Pennsylvania Outdoors Corps, visit DCNR’s website.

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.

Fish & Boat Commission Seeks Applicants for Clean Vessel Act Grant Program

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​Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is requesting applications from interested parties seeking funding under the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Program, a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) which funds the construction, renovation, operation and maintenance of pump-out stations and waste reception facilities for recreational boats.

Applications must be submitted to the PFBC no later than September 30, 2018.

The PFBC is the only entity within Pennsylvania eligible to apply to the USFWS for funding under the CVA program and is looking for interested partners to utilize these funds.  CVA funds are available to both public and private entities that meet program requirements.  Reimbursements occur only after final inspection and approval of the project by PFBC staff.

The Grant will reimburse recipients for up to 75 percent of the installation cost of pumpout and dump stations, including the cost of new equipment, or the renovation or upgrading of existing equipment, as well as necessary pumps, piping, fitting, lift stations, on-site holding tanks, pier or dock modifications, signs, permits and other miscellaneous equipment needed for a complete and efficient station.  Grant recipients must provide a minimum 25 percent grant match and guarantee to keep the facility operated, maintained and accessible to the public for the full useful life of the station.

For more information about the Clean Vessel Act grant program, please contact the CVA coordinator at 717.346.8196 or visit http://www.fishandboat.com/Transact/Grants/Pages/PumpoutGrantProgram.aspx

July 4 Marks PA’s Second Fish-for-Free Day

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​HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 26) – Families and friends visiting Pennsylvania’s state parks, lakes and other popular outdoor spots over the Independence Day holiday can enjoy a day of free fishing, thanks to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).

Wednesday, July 4, marks the second of two free fishing days in the Commonwealth. The first was May 27.

First established in 1984 as part of the PFBC’s public outreach efforts, Fish-for-Free days allow anyone – residents and non-residents – to legally fish in Pennsylvania without a fishing license. From 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on both days, no fishing license is needed to fish in Pennsylvania’s waterways. All other fishing regulations apply.

“The dates around Memorial Day and Independence Day were chosen because they are popular picnic and camping days, with many families already spending the day at lakes and parks throughout the state,” said Steve Kralik, director of the PFBC Bureau of Outreach, Education and Marketing. “Fish-for-Free days offer an easy, convenient way to introduce friends and family to the sport of fishing, or to reconnect with the sport if someone hasn’t fished in some time. On these days, individuals can fish at no cost.”

To make the fishing experience more convenient, people can borrow equipment from dozens of fishing tackle loaner sites across the state. Many of the sites are at state parks, which are always a popular place for visitors on the Independence Day holiday. Loaner sites are also available at county parks and some public libraries.

Click here for the list of loaner sites.

More information is available on the PFBC website, which includes interactive maps, regional fishing reports, and tips on fishing fundamentals.

Smartphone users can view the information through the PFBC’s free FishBoatPA smartphone app, which is available from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app has been downloaded more than 105,000 times.

To continue your fishing experiences after this free fishing day, please visit GoneFishingPa.com to purchase your 2018 or multi-year fishing license.

Fish & Boat Commission Reminds Boaters – Don’t Let Boating Under the Influence Sink a Good Time

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​HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 26) – As the busy July 4th holiday approaches, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) waterways conservation officers (WCO) will be focusing on keeping boaters safe by cracking down on boating under the influence (BUI) as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign, which runs from June 29 – July 1.

In partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the PFBC is working to increase boater awareness of the hazards associated with boating under the influence, and to decrease the number of accidents and deaths attributed to impaired boating and other unsafe boating practices.

“As a part of the community ourselves, we want to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, and anyone enjoying our waters have a safe place to spend their time on the water, ” says Col. Corey Britcher, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement. “Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, and noise on a boat.

“Choosing to consume alcohol while boating puts everyone at risk, including passengers and people in the water,” he adds. “Our goal is to remove anyone choosing to operate a vessel impaired and to keep everyone else safe.”

Last year across the state, 15 individuals died in boating accidents. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 3 of the cases.

Throughout the weekend and through July 4, boaters will notice an increase in the numbers of officers on the water and at recreational boating checkpoints. This effort will result in the removal of impaired operators, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters this boating season.

So far this year, PFBC waterways conservation officers have arrested 12 individuals for boating under the influence:

  • Allegheny County, Allegheny River – 2
  • Centre County, Sayers Lake – 1
  • Crawford County, Conneaut Lake – 1
  • Huntingdon County, Raystown Lake – 3
  • Dauphin County, Susquehanna River – 3
  • York County, Susquehanna River – 1
  • Union County, Penns Creek – 1

Waterways conservation officers arrested 68 individuals in 2017; 90 individuals in 2016; 48 individuals in 2015; 93 individuals in 2014; 90 individuals in 2013.
Filtered by region, WCOs in 2017 arrested the following number of individuals for BUI:

  • 7 in Northwest Region (Counties – Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren)
  • 16 in Southwest Region (Counties – Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland)
  • 14 in Northcentral Region (Counties – Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union)
  • 19 in Southcentral Region (Counties – Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York)
  • 6 in Northeast Region (Counties – Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)
  • 6 in Southeast Region (Counties – Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill)

“Many boaters may not know that the threshold for BUI is the same as with motor vehicles – 0.08 percent,” added Britcher. “If you are found to be impaired and operating a boat you will be arrested.”

Tips to staying safe on the water this summer include:

Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.

Wear your life jacket. 85% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.

Take a boating safety education course. 71% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known*.

Visit operationdrywater.org for more information about boating under the influence.

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