Saturday, October 25, 2014

Calvin Ernst, Ernst Conservation Seeds, Honored By Penn State, Atlantic Seed Association

Calvin Ernst, founder and president of Ernst Conservation Seeds in Meadville, Crawford County, was recently honored for a lifetime of contributions to the native seed industry by the Atlantic Seed Association and Penn State University during separate events.
On October 10, ASA president Stephanie Breckenridge presented Ernst with the 2014 Honorary Member Award in recognition of his dedicated service to the Atlantic Seed Association and the seed industry.
The award was presented during a tour of Ernst Conservation Seeds by members of the ASA during its 62nd Annual Convention.
Breckenridge cited Ernst’s fifty-plus years of innovative and entrepreneurial spirit with regards to agribusiness, his success producing and selling plant seeds into new markets, and his company’s commitment to collecting and propagating native plant species that benefit the ecological function of the areas in which they are used.
Breckenridge, who is also Ernst Conservation Seeds’ sales and inventory manager, remarked, “Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of the organization.’ And on that fitting note, we would like to add one more feather to Calvin’s trademark hat by honoring him as the Atlantic Seed Association’s 2014 Honorary Member.”
On October 17, Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences named Ernst a 2014 Outstanding Alumnus. The award recognizes alumni for their achievements and provides opportunities for recipients to interact with the college's faculty, students and other alumni.
He and three other Outstanding Alumni awardees were presented their awards during a special recognition event in University Park, Pennsylvania on October 20.
Ernst graduated from Penn State in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural bioscience. That year, he learned of an opportunity to provide the legume crownvetch to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for highway median vegetation and erosion control.
He convinced his father to set aside five acres of the family’s farm so he could grow the crop and harvest the seed for PennDOT. The next spring, he and his brother Luther planted an additional 60 acres that were eventually sold to Stanford Seed.
In 1964, Ernst founded Ernst Crownvetch Farms. The farm grew crownvetch seeds, plugs and propagules that were used by numerous highway departments and other agencies for erosion control and roadside beautification.
Recognizing a decline in the crownvetch market and the ecological merits of a shift to native seeds, Ernst introduced native deertongue as his company’s first native plant seed in the late 1980s, and found a market for it primarily in strip mine reclamation projects.
Within a few short years, he shifted almost his entire product offering to native plant seeds, and soon changed the name of his company to Ernst Conservation Seeds.
The company soon began specializing in custom mixes for wetland mitigation, restoration and wildlife habitat. It later added bioengineering – or live plant materials – for stream bank restoration and other uses.
What began as five acres now includes nearly 10,000 acres of native grasses and wildflowers comprising approximately 400 native and naturalized species for seed production and limited live plant sales.
The majority of acreage is located in northwestern Pennsylvania, though the company owns additional farm land in Florida, and has cooperative growing relationships in Maryland, North Carolina and Oregon.
Its products are sold to conservation organizations, landscape architects, reclamation/restoration contractors, government agencies and private landowners throughout the United States and abroad. Ernst and his company continue a mission to identify and locate native species with restoration and conservation value that can be cultivated into mass production.
Ernst has received numerous honors from his peers throughout his career, including the American Agriculturist Master Farmer award in 2008, the Gov. Raymond P. Shafer Distinguished Service to the Community Award in 2007 and the USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Program Special Service Award in 2004. He is a member of several trade, professional and conservation organizations.
For more information, visit Ernst Conservation Seeds or call 814-336-2404.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Oct. 27 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The Oct. 27 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Click Here To Print Entire Digest. 

Gov. Corbett Signs Bill Weakening Stream Buffer Requirements Into Law
Gov. Corbett Wednesday signed into law House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R-Northampton) that environmental groups say weakens DEP requirements for stream buffers in Special Protection Watersheds.  It is now Act 162.

Gov. Corbett Signs Bill Authorizing 1-House Veto Of PA Climate Plan
On Wednesday, Gov. Corbett signed into law House Bill 2354 (Snyder-D-Fayette) which authorizes a one-House of the General Assembly to veto any greenhouse gas emission reduction plan required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  It is now Act 175.

CAC: DEP Extends Comment Period On Oil & Gas Enforcement Policy Changes
Kurt Klapkowski, Director of DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management, told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council Tuesday the agency will be extending the public comment period for proposed changes to the Oil and Gas Program Enforcement Policy until November 18.  (formal notice)

Growing Greener Coalition Finding The Green Guide To Project Funding
The Growing Greener Coalition now has available a guide to finding funding for your conservation, restoration or recreation project called Finding The Green.

Keep PA Beautiful Urges Residents To Become Involved In America Recycles Day Nov. 15
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Thursday urged Pennsylvanians to become involved in America Recycles Day on November 15 to celebrate the contributions recycling makes to protecting our environment and to help raise awareness about the value of reducing, reusing and recycling – every day – throughout the year.

Wilkinsburg-Penn Authority Fined $114,000 For Drinking Water Disinfection Violations

The Department of Environmental Protection Friday announced they fined the Wilkinsburg Penn Joint Water Authority in Allegheny County $114,000 for failing to maintain adequate disinfection of water the Authority delivered to its customers in November 2013.
The fine was one of the largest civil penalties in the last 20 years for violations of Safe Drinking Water regulations in the southwest region of the state.
“Safe Drinking Water regulations require that community water systems maintain a minimum disinfectant concentration in the water entering the distribution system,” DEP Regional Director Susan Malone said. “On at least fifteen occasions during November 2013, WPJWA failed to meet this requirement. In addition, the regulations require that a community water system notify the department within one hour and notify its customers within twenty-four hours.  WPJWA did neither.”
Failure to maintain adequate disinfection is a violation that poses a threat to the health of those who receive and consume water supplied by community water systems, and timely notice allows the department and customers to take steps to protect public health.
Due to the serious nature of these violations, DEP imposed a fine and outlined steps the Authority must take to ensure a similar incident does not occur in the future.
According to WPJWA, the violations occurred because its Certified Water Treatment Officials did not know that they were required to maintain the minimum disinfectant concentration.
To address this claimed shortcoming, the Authority will provide 15 hours of disinfection training to the nine Certified Water Treatment Officials it employs. The training must be completed by February 28, 2015.
WPJWA serves a population of approximately 120,000 individuals through approximately 40,000 connections. Its main office is located in Wilkinsburg.
For more information call 412-442-4000.

PUC To Electric, Gas Utilities: Prepare Now To Help Consumers This Winter

As the Public Utility Commission marks the 12th year of its “Prepare Now” initiative, Friday it reminded electric and natural gas utilities to take extra steps to help consumers – especially those on limited and fixed incomes, to “Prepare Now” for winter heating costs.
A letter signed by all five PUC Commissioners was sent to electric and natural gas utilities under the PUC’s jurisdiction asking the utilities to join the PUC in reaching out and educating consumers, especially those on limited and fixed incomes.
The letter contained specific suggestions as to how the utilities can help because the utilities have more flexibility to make allowances for payment-troubled customers than the PUC does under the law. The utilities are asked to inform the PUC of any of the suggested actions they implement.
The Prepare Now campaign provides consumers with simple tips to lower their energy bills, including shopping for electricity and natural gas, as well as tips to conserve energy around the house. It also offers information about low-income programs that help consumers restore and maintain service.
”Pennsylvania experienced an extremely harsh winter last year and while there is good news for energy consumers as current predictions forecast lower winter energy costs, we recognize that still many families are not prepared to handle the costs associated with winter energy bills,” the Commission wrote.
The letter encourages consumers on limited or fixed incomes to call their utility about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills such as Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP).
It also appeals to the companies to increase efforts to educate consumers with limited or fixed incomes about special programs such as CAPS, LIURP and budget billing, which assist consumers in paying their energy bills and controlling their energy usage, and at the same time, reminds them of the provisions under Chapter 56 of the Public Utility Code that impose an obligation of good faith, honesty and fair dealing in its performance and enforcement.
The PUC’s message is simple: Prepare Now for winter energy costs. Learn more about conservation. Check your electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts. Use to shop for service. Look into programs that help low-income customers maintain service.
The PUC employs consumer outreach specialists who provide utility education and assistance to consumers. This team of consumer education specialists reaches out to consumers by traveling throughout the state conducting or participating in workshop events, free seminars, roundtable discussions and community fairs.  
During those events, plain language materials and literature designed to educate consumers about assistance programs and their rights are handed out. Materials include information on consumer rights in dealing with terminations and reconnections, available low-income programs and tips on how to “Prepare Now” for winter.
For more information on hosting a PUC consumer outreach specialist at a community event, please call 717-787-5722.
For more information on energy conservation and assistance programs, visit the PUC’s Prepare Now webpage or call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380. #PrepareNow

Growing Greener Coalition Finding The Green Guide To Project Funding

The Growing Greener Coalition now has available a guide to finding funding for your conservation, restoration or recreation project called Finding The Green.
The purpose of this single-source guide is to provide an overview of funding opportunities that may be of help to you.  The guide contains a thorough listing of state funding programs for conservation, preservation and recreation projects, including the more recent funding made available from Act 13 of 2012.
In addition to a list of specific grant opportunities, you’ll find tips on how to apply and where to go for more information.
The guide is available for download and will be updated regularly as we gather new information so be sure to check back often.

October Environmental Synopsis Now Available From Joint Conservation Committee

-- Accomplishments of the Growing Greener Program
-- Where PA Ranks In Energy Efficiency
-- Big Money At Stake In Chesapeake Bay Cleanup
-- Hybrid Car Repair Issues
-- Pesticides in Urban Streams Increase
-- To get your own copy of the Synopsis, send an email to:
Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as Chair of the Joint Committee.

Marcellus Shale Coalition Releases Unifying America Video

Following its annual meeting this week, the Marcellus Shale Coalition released a new year-in-review video titled Shale: Unifying America.
“This video highlights and reflects the game-changing benefits tied to safe, job-creating shale development for our communities, the entire Commonwealth and our nation,” said MSC President Dave Spigelmyer. “Shale truly is, in every sense, strengthening and unifying our nation, and our industry is deeply committed to and focused on ensuring that these opportunities are fully realized for Pennsylvania families and small businesses.”
Other videos available from this drilling industry group include--
-- An American Renewal

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