Thursday, March 22, 2018

Insurance Dept Urges Homeowners To Consider Flood Insurance Regardless Of Flood Hazard Area Designation

Insurance Department Consumer Liaison David Buono Thursday urged homeowners in Moosic Borough, Lackawanna County, as well as homeowners throughout Pennsylvania, to consider purchasing flood insurance, regardless of whether they live in a federally designated special flood hazard area, where this insurance is required for most mortgages.
“Flooding happens throughout Pennsylvania, with federal government records showing 20 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program in the state being for damages outside of designated Special Flood Hazard Areas,” Buono told a public meeting on the flood insurance topic in Moosic.  “According to CoreLogic, a global company that provides property information to mortgage lenders, more than half a million properties in Pennsylvania outside of SFHAs are at moderate or high risk of flooding.”
Buono addressed a public meeting organized by Moosic Borough officials following information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that additional areas of the community may be included in SFHAs with current remapping of flood hazard areas.
“FEMA’s planned re-mapping could result in more homeowners and businesses in Moosic and surrounding areas being required by their mortgage lenders to buy flood insurance, which is not included in most standard homeowners or business insurance policies,” Buono said. “But, both FEMA statistics and the CoreLogic study show flood insurance is something property owners should consider even if they are not in an area where this coverage is required.”
FEMA’s flood hazard areas are those considered to have a one percent chance of flooding in any one year, which amounts to a 26 percent chance of flooding at least once during the span of a 30-year mortgage.
Properties outside of an SFHA with half the likelihood of flooding still face a 14 percent chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.
Acknowledging flood insurance is an added expense, Buono encouraged property owners to shop for the best coverage and visit the Insurance department’s flood insurance webpage for information on the federal government run NFIP, as well as private market flood insurance.
“Our research has shown for homeowners in SFHAs with a relatively low risk of flooding, private coverage may be significantly less expensive than the NFIP. For properties outside of SFHAs, coverage is relatively inexpensive for both NFIP and private market products, with NFIP coverage being about $30 a month,” Buono said.
Since the Insurance Department launched its flood insurance webpage a little over two years ago, the number of private, residential flood insurance policies in Pennsylvania has jumped from 1,500 to around 5,200.
“Renters should consider flood insurance as well,” Buono said. “While a landlord’s policy may cover the apartment itself and the building, it likely will not cover a tenant’s personal possessions. “Without flood coverage, tenants could lose their clothing, furniture, electronics, and other valuable belongings, which would be very expensive to replace.”
Congress has reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program with several short-term extensions since last September. The latest extension expires March 23.
The Insurance Department has written to Congress and testified in Washington in favor of a long-term reauthorization of the program, including specific language that makes private market flood insurance acceptable to mortgage lenders.
For more information, visit the Insurance Department’s Flood Insurance webpage.

IFO Estimates PA Landowners Received Over $5.325 Billion In Natural Gas Royalties From 2012 To 2016

The Independent Fiscal Office Thursday issued a report in response to a request by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) which estimated Pennsylvania landowners received $5.325 billion in natural gas royalties between 2012 and 2016.
The estimated natural gas royalty payments were $20 million statewide in 2006.
The IFO also estimated that about $28 million of the $210 million natural gas severance tax Gov. Wolf proposed would be passed on to landowners receiving royalties.
The IFO developed its estimate from state Department of Revenue income tax information and derived the numbers based on a series of assumptions to income increases in key natural gas producing counties.
The IFO could not estimate the impact of post-production costs natural gas companies deduct from royalty payments since those costs are not published.
The estimate focused on shale gas producing counties of Butler, Bradford, Greene, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga, Washington, Wyoming and made estimates for other counties.
The IFO reported in January Act 13 drilling impact fees that fund public state and local programs related to shale gas and environmental restoration raised an estimated $1,029,594 between 2013 and what is estimated for 2017.
Click Here to download a copy of the report on royalties.

DCNR State Forester Dan Devlin Retiring After Nearly 40 Years Of State Service

On March 30, 2018, State Forester and Bureau of Forestry Director Daniel A. Devlin will bid farewell to a labor of love, and turn his attention to the other things he loves doing, like casting a fly on trout streams protected by the state forest lands he oversaw.
He’ll likely invest more time in pre-season scouting to find the trophy whitetails he knows roam the many state forests he can describe so well; and spend more time with his beloved bird dogs in that perfect ruffed grouse covert that he knows only healthy, successional woodlands can provide.
He especially will enjoy spending time outdoors with his wife, Jean, and two children and grandchildren.
His Career With DCNR
Devlin has overseen a staff of almost 600; 20 state forest districts; one nursery and woodworking unit; and more than 2.2 million acres of state forest lands stretching across the state.
“When we talk about our role as managers of state forest lands, we always mention balancing different values and uses, and to me I think providing balance is where Dan has shone during his long tenure in several positions with DCNR and the Bureau of Forestry,” said Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “He was instrumental in establishing an ecosystem management approach to protect biodiversity while incorporating human uses of our public lands. He is a true conservationist and public servant.
His eventual successor will oversee a bureau that has achieved national acclaim for its proactive stand on informing the public of the threats and dangers of the emerald ash borer and other invasive species.
DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry has garnered national respect and admiration for its highly skilled wildfire fighting force that annually is deployed to distant states.
It is a bureau that routinely receives independent, professional reviews, certification, and kudos for how it manages its forestland for the economic benefit and recreational enjoyment of so many.
“Forests provide us all kinds of benefits, in terms of water and air and carbon sequestration. Those are the kinds of things that people take for granted,” Devlin shared during a recent interview with outdoors writer Bob Frye. “So, I just see, as generations go on, that our forests are going to become more and more and more valuable.”
Value is something the Forest Resources Alumni Group saw when it presented Devlin with Pennsylvania State University’s 2017 Forest Resources Outstanding Alumni Award.
The tenth Penn State alumnus to serve as State Forester, Devlin earned his bachelor’s degree in Forest Science in 1975 with a minor in wildlife biology. He completed a master’s degree in wildlife management in 1979.
Devlin’s first professional position was forest manager for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Indian Affairs in Minnesota. In 1981, he accepted a position with the former PA  Department of Environmental Resources’ Bureau of Forestry as its only wildlife biologist.
In 1990, Devlin moved into the bureau’s Resource Planning and became division chief in 2000.  He was promoted to bureau director and state forester in 2007.
For a 15-month period, from November 2013 to January 2015, he served as Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry in DCNR. In the deputy secretary’s post, he was responsible for directing daily operations of the Bureau of Forestry as well as the bureaus of State Parks and Facility, Design and Construction.
Devlin has had many career highlights, including that he:
-- Oversaw acquisition of more than 50,000 acres of new state forestlands
-- Oversaw the addition of 18 new Natural Areas and two new Wild Areas to the state forest system
-- Developed and published revegetation strategies for 12 major pipelines through the state forest system, which have been applied extensively in the eastern U.S.
-- Developed “reservation guidelines” for timber sale activities that incorporate future stand diversity and aesthetic considerations
-- Coordinated development of the Bureau of Forestry’s strategic plan, Penn’s Woods – Sustaining our Forests
-- Provided oversight of all Marcellus Gas Leasing and Monitoring activities on state forest lands
-- Provided oversight of the third Forest Stewardship Council certification of Pennsylvania’s state forests
-- Co-authored the Penn State extension publication, Wetlands and Wildlife
What does this long list of accomplishments mean to his coworkers, the men and women who saw him as a leader and a friend?
“Dan was a strong-willed advocate for the Bureau of Forestry, a skilled leader who always found time to talk with those of us who needed answers,” said Jeff Woleslagle, head of the bureau’s communication section. “He has been a great mentor to many in the bureau and his legacy will be lasting.”
More information on forests in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR State Forests webpage.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
(Reprinted from the March 22 DCNR Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

DCNR Blog: To Clean Up The Chesapeake Bay, Focus On The Land

By Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of DCNR

The role of land conservation, forest cover, and public engagement easily gets lost in the challenges of nutrient reductions, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), and Chesapeake Bay Program agreements.
Yet this work emerges as critical as we better understand the roles riparian buffers, conserved forest land, and green infrastructure play in assisting with the bay ecosystem’s resiliency and pollution absorbing capacity.
The importance of forests to clean water is well understood, and increasingly important in a warming climate.
DCNR, and many partners, manages public lands and forests to clean and filter water, and encourages conservation actions on private lands by engaging with the public who make decisions and choices that impact local waters and the bay.
Stream Buffers Are A Water Quality Best Management Practice
One of the best places to restore forests are at the edge of streams. The Bay Program credits forest riparian buffers as one of the most effective best management practices for removing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.
These practices are supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and all agencies in Pennsylvania directly involved with bay clean-up: DCNR, and the departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
As Pennsylvania develops its [Chesapeake Bay] Watershed Implementation Plan, forest riparian buffers are central. To meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, we are working collectively to add 95,000 new forested buffer acres by 2025. Federal financial and program support will be critical.
While supporting the federal CREP program, DCNR created an alternative approach that provides more flexibility to landowners, especially with Amish and Mennonite farmers. This approach funds buffers designed to allow some income-producing trees and shrubs such as nuts, berries, willows, and energy crops.
It will attract landowners who might not qualify for or want to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and motivate them to keep their buffer in place long-term as it produces income.
[Forest Buffer Grants: DCNR is now accepting applications for Community Conservation Partnership Program grants which include planting forested stream buffers.  Applications are due April 11. Click Here for more information.]
So far, Pennsylvania is investing more than $4 million in Keystone and PennVEST dollars in this program.
But we also need to keep the stream buffers and forested lands we already have.
Forest Land Conservation
“Penn’s Woods” is 59 percent forested, with 17 million acres of forestland. DCNR manages 2.6 million acres, much of it in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Despite the large public land ownership in the headwaters, 75 percent of Pennsylvania’s forested lands are privately owned, and are becoming increasingly fractured and parcelized as children inherit large tracts and divide them.
For the Susquehanna and other waterways to improve, we need to protect the existing forests, and expand forest land protection and conservation. The Chesapeake Conservation Partnership is bringing together agencies and nonprofits to secure support for this across the watershed.
The U.S. Forest and National Park services both provide critical funds, but unfortunately the president’s budget cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and we’re relying on Congress to restore it.
Working Woodlands
DCNR has been experimenting with a “working woodlands” approach to conserving forestland. Owned by large timber organizations and watershed authorities, these lands are rapidly changing hands and are increasingly subdivided and vulnerable to development.
By encouraging conservation investors to purchase these lands and continue timbering sustainably, they remain in forest cover and support jobs, as well as water quality, wildlife, carbon sequestration, and many other benefits.
DCNR is in discussions to facilitate permanent conservation easements on these working woodlands to prevent subdivision and appease local officials who often oppose state ownership of large parcels.
Of course, meeting Pennsylvania’s commitment to the bay won’t rely solely on conserving forests.
Fortunately, DCNR works in partnership with our state Environmental Protection and Agriculture agencies on the wide range of best management practices being adopted by communities, farmers, and landowners.
Engaging Citizens At The Landscape Level
In the long run, the major motivator to engage local citizens is their local rivers, streams, and landscapes. DCNR leads a proactive approach to engaging people with land and water through our Conservation Landscapes Program.
The Susquehanna Riverlands in Lancaster and York counties is one good example, focused on the stunningly beautiful lower gorge of the Susquehanna River. The partnerships enhance the natural assets through federal, state, and local investments in land conservation, trail, and park development, interpretation, education, and tourism.
Continued financial and programmatic support from National Park Service, EPA, and USDA U.S. Forest Service programs is essential to support this work and keep momentum going.
Pennsylvania state government, local government, and nonprofits are committed and doing established, productive work, so the steady support of federal partners is critical to leverage local investments.
I am enthusiastically supportive of the Chesapeake Bay Program because it gives an extra impetus for those of us up in the watershed to conserve land and forests, clean up streams and rivers, and connect our public to these incredible assets.
We need continued federal resources to accomplish this.
For more information about forest buffers along waterways, explore DCNR's Forest Buffers Along Waterways webpage.
Visit Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan webpage to learn more about cleaning up rivers and streams in the Commonwealth.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
(Photo: Secretary Dunn with a PA Outdoor Corps crew member planting a tree.)
(Reprinted from the March 22 DCNR Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Celebrating Women In Conservation Award Winners Announced

PennFuture Thursday announced the winners of the 4th Annual Celebrating Women In Conservation Awards.  The winners will be celebrated at an April 19 awards event at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia.
The winners by Award categories are--
-- Lifetime Achievement in Conservation--
-- Dulcie F. Flaharty, for leadership in land conservation. She recently retired from Natural Lands and formerly served as executive director at Montgomery County Lands Trust;
-- Katie McGinty, for years of leadership in nation and state environmental policy making as the former Secretary of DEP; and
-- Elizabeth Hill Robinson, for leadership as executive director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association, founder of the Energy Coordinating Agency and co-founder of the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance.
This award celebrates the lifetime accomplishments of a remarkable woman who has made a difference by devoting significant parts of her life to protecting and enhancing Southeast PA’s natural greatness and for her tireless dedication to environmental advocacy. Nominees should have at least dedicated 25 years of work to conservation in Southeast PA.
-- Delaware River Watershed--
-- Maya K. van Rossum, Delaware RiverKeeper Network
This award honors an individual who has made a positive impact on water quality in the Delaware River Watershed. Her water quality work may include, but is not limited to, wildlife impacts, macroinvertebrates, land protection, stream buffers, bank rehabilitation, agriculture, water quality studies, and environmental policy.
-- Environmental Justice--
-- Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia)
This award honors an individual who has devoted her time and energy to defending those who have been the most disproportionately and negatively affected by pollution. This individual has proven to be a voice for those who may not otherwise be heard, and actively advocates for environmental laws and policies to improve the lives of others in Pennsylvania.
-- Climate and Renewable Energy--
-- Christina Simeone, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, University of Pennsylvania
This award honors an individual who is dedicated to addressing climate impacts or championing renewable energy efforts. This woman can be active in communities, business, government and science  fields. With her skills, this woman has blazed a new trail toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for Pennsylvania.
-- Community Engagement and Environmental Education--  
-- Joanne Douglas, environmental artist and educator in Philadelphia
This award honors an individual who has dedicated herself to educating her community about sustainability and environmental policy. She is admired in her Southeast PA community for her passionate commitment to environmental awareness and to educating students and the public.
Awards Event
The award winners will be recognized on April 19 at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Click Here for ticket information.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the PennFuture  website.

Penn State Extension Watershed Winds Newsletter Now Available

The latest edition of Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension featuring stories on -- Montour County Residents Learn how To Protect Their Drinking Water
-- Upcoming Extension Workshops, Programs
-- Click Here to sign up for news from Penn State Extension.

Montour County Residents Learn How To Protect Their Drinking Water A Workshop

Fifty-three homeowners recently attended a Penn State Extension workshop in Montour County where they received water test reports and assistance in interpreting the testing results.
Approximately one million rural homes and farms across Pennsylvania use private wells for drinking water with over 3,000 of those homes located in Montour County in central Pennsylvania.
Users of private drinking water wells and springs are in need of educational resources because the management of these drinking water systems in Pennsylvania is the voluntary responsibility of each homeowner.
For many years, Penn State Extension has delivered Safe Drinking Water Clinics to educate private water system owners about proper water supply location, construction, testing and treatment.
Utilizing a grant from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and a partnership with the Montour County Conservation District, Penn State Extension provided two drinking water workshops on February 28 which also provided free water testing to the first 50 homes using a private well or spring.
The presenters were Andy Yencha, a water resources educator from Penn State Extension in Cumberland County and Bryan Swistock, a water resources specialist with Penn State Extension in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.
The free testing included analyses of a dozen common drinking water quality parameters through the Penn State Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory.
Fifty-three homeowners attended one of the workshops where they received their water test reports and assistance in interpreting the testing results.
Overall, 40 percent of the water supplies failed at least one health-based drinking water standard. The most common problems were coliform bacteria, E. coli bacteria, copper, lead and nitrate.
An evaluation of attendees found that 100 percent felt that they had learned new information and 74 percent felt they learned a great deal of new information about their drinking water.
More importantly, 54 percent of attendees planned on using information they learned at the workshop to take actions to better manage their drinking water supply such as moving sources of pollution, fixing the construction of their well, or installing a water treatment device.
Pennsylvania residents who are interested in learning more about the proper management of private water wells, springs or cisterns can visit the Penn State Extension website.
Interested residents can also tap into Penn State Extension’s Master Well Owner Network for help in solving problems with private water systems and learn how to educate others on how to maintain safe drinking water.
(Reprinted from the latest edition of Watershed Winds newsletter from Penn State Extension.Click Here to sign up for news from Penn State Extension.)

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