Tuesday, March 13, 2018

House Agriculture Committee Meets March 26 On PennVEST Loan To Lyme Timber For Conservation Easements

The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet on March 26 for an informational meeting on the investments the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority made in Lyme Timber Company for working timberland conservation easements.
PennVEST approved two loans in October and February totalling nearly $50 million to put private forest land in Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Venango into working forest conservation easements to create forest-related jobs and to preserve, protect and improve water quality. The property includes an acid mine drainage restoration project within the Sterling Run tract.
At the time of the October announcement, Gov. Wolf said, “This is an example of how government and private sector interests can intersect to protect the environment, and improve water quality as we help preserve important segments of our forested areas all the while creating jobs and economic opportunities as they are managed for future generations."
“The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry has been working closely with PennVEST, the Department of Environmental Protection, local officials and industry leaders to help pull together this important project that will provide working conservation easements to allow sustainable forestry, protect high quality streams, and mitigate acid mine drainage,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adam Dunn.
Dunn noted that a conservation easement limits certain uses or prevents subdivision and fragmentation from taking place on the land, which still remains in private hands to continue to provide economic benefits in the form of jobs and property taxes.
The funding for this project came from a combination of state funds approved by voters, federal grants to PennVEST from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and recycled loan repayments from previous PennVEST funding awards. Funds for the projects are disbursed after bills for work have been paid and receipts submitted to PennVEST.
The issue also came up in the Senate budget hearing on DCNR.
The Committee meeting will be held in Room 60 East Wing starting at 1:00.
Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron) serves as Majority Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: mcauser@pahousegop.com. Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: epashins@pahouse.net.
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