The Fish and Boat Commission Tuesday announced it is now accepting applications for the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Grant Program in Cameron, Elk, McKean and Potter counties.
The deadline for applications is June 17.
This funding is available through a 2007 settlement agreement with Norfolk Southern as restitution for environmental damages from a June 30, 2006, train derailment in rural Norwich Township, McKean County. The accident spilled sodium hydroxide into Big Fill Run, Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek and the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek.
Under the settlement, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay the Commonwealth $7.35 million as restitution for environmental damages. The PFBC received $3.675 million of the settlement and must use the funds to develop and implement projects that benefit fishing, boating and aquatic resources in Cameron, Elk, McKean or Potter counties.
The PFBC’s primary emphasis will be on projects in the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed upstream of the confluence with the First Fork of Sinnemahoning Creek; however, projects located elsewhere within the aforementioned counties will be considered.
Projects eligible for funding in this round will be limited to the following: fish habitat protection and enhancement; restoration of aquatic habitat connectivity through the removal of barriers to fish passage; riparian buffer plantings of trees and shrubs; improvements to existing cooperative trout nursery facilities; enhancement or restoration of populations of specified aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need; abandoned mine reclamation or remediation of acid mine drainage that will benefit fish and other aquatic life; and the acquisition and development of properties for public fishing and boating access.
Further description of these types of eligible projects and instructions for applying can be found within the grant application package available on the agency’s website.
Awarding of funds for any selected projects will be contingent upon availability of funds. Currently, the balance of funds remaining in the program account is approximately $1.4 million.
For this round, the PFBC will limit the cumulative total of all external grant awards to $400,000 and will consider individual grant awards in the range of $10,000 to $200,000.
Applicants must secure matching funds equal to at least 25 percent of the total project costs in order to supplement PFBC funds and assist in implementing their proposed projects. This minimum match threshold is equal to one-third of the grant amount the applicant is requesting from the PFBC.
Note: There have been some changes to the application package since the last round of awards in 2014. The PFBC anticipates final selection and public announcement of grant awards by the end of July 2016.For more information, visit the Fish & Boat Commission’s Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Grant Program webpage or contact Fisheries Biologist Jeff Schmid by calling 814-359-5242 or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.