Friday, August 26, 2016

DCNR, Nonprofits, Universities Win NFWF Grant For Precision Farm Conservation

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Susquehanna University, Bloomsburg University, Chesapeake Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA Thursday received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund grant for $562,236 to implement a precision farm conservation program in Centre and Clinton counties.
The three-year initiative will pilot a new approach to conservation with local partners in Pennsylvania’s Centre and Clinton counties to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from nonpoint sources to improve water quality and scenic beauty.  
Once complete, the project may serve as a national model.
(Photo: Project partners Harry Campbell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Matt Keefer, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Carly Dean, Chesapeake Conservancy.)
The NFWF grant provides funding to help local partners plan their restoration projects using new high-resolution land cover and LiDAR datasets to better determine precisely where projects will create the highest-impact opportunities for conservation and restoration.
The project will also help measure progress toward achieving the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Program Agreement goals.
“We are very grateful to NFWF for funding this joint proposal. We’re excited to work with our partners in Centre and Clinton counties to showcase the power of new technology and data to help guide efficient decision making for the use of limited restoration funding and to measure our collective progress toward our goals,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “We live in a brave new world where transformative technologies are the great opportunity of our time.  This grant will allow us to use these innovations to enhance our collective impact for environmental conservation.”  
The Chesapeake Conservancy and partners have spent the last 18 months working with the Chesapeake Bay Program to produce 1 meter by 1 meter resolution land cover data for the entire 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed.
This is one of the largest, high-resolution land cover datasets ever produced and will be open source data available to all government agencies, nonprofits and individuals across the watershed.  
With willing landowners, the NFWF project will make use of this revolutionary data set and enhance the implementation of Best Management Practices in the highest priority locations for Clinton and Centre counties.
“Using the new high resolution data, through partnerships such as this one, makes it possible to focus actions where they will achieve the greatest water quality benefits with a minimal amount of action,” Chesapeake Conservancy Director of Conservation Technology Jeffrey Allenby said. “This information, with 900x the resolution of previously available data, will fundamentally change how conservation and restoration planning are completed and will enhance everyone’s efficiency and effectiveness.”
“One of the unique things about this partnership is the pairing of technology with restoration activities on-the-ground to help people identify the right places, the right scale and the right practices to produce real measurable results,” Allenby continued.
“Susquehanna University is delighted to be in this new partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy,” Susquehanna University Vice President for University Relations Ronald Cohen said. “Our Freshwater Research Institute, funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and its growing research agenda involving local, state and national agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations, brings relationships that should be advantageous to the Conservancy and the work of the grant.”
Related Stories:
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