Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Register Now: PA Environmental Educators Conference March 12-13 In State College

There is still time to register for the PA Association of Environmental Educators 2018 Conference to be held on March 12-13 in State College.
In addition, there will be a Pre-Conference Workshop - Getting Little Feet Wet on March 11.
The theme of the Conference – Growing from Our Roots – explores how programs can include local lore and native cultures to increase people's attachment to the environment in their community.
Keynote speakers include Tchin, a national know artist and educator of Indian arts and culture; Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of DCNR; and Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of DEP.
For more information on programs, initiatives, resources and other upcoming events, visit the PA Association of Environmental Educators website.  Click Here to sign up for the PAEE newsletter (bottom of page, left).  Click Here to become a member.  Click Here to support PAEE’s work.

Help Wanted: Brandywine Conservancy Operations Manager

The Delaware County-based Brandywine Conservancy is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Operations Manager.  Click Here for all the details.

Budget Hearing: Senators Recommend More Drilling In State Forests To Fund An Expanded Growing Greener Program

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Wednesday suggested one funding source for an expanded Growing Greener Program could be allowing additional natural gas drilling on DCNR’s state forest lands.
During questioning of DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn at the Senate’s budget hearing, it was noted there are about 800,000 acres of state forest land in the Marcellus Shale natural gas play that have yet to be leased for drilling.
Leasing as few as 25,000 of those acres, Sen. Yaw said, could result in as much as $100 million in upfront payments, plus the payment of royalties over time for the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund.
The Growing Greener Program provides recreation, land conservation and environmental restoration grants to local governments, land trusts and watershed groups, as well has funding for on-farm conservation practices that help meet Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup commitments and implement TMDL nutrient reduction plans statewide.
Sen. Yaw said he is a big believer in using resources the state already owns for the public’s benefit and referenced Senate Bill 104 (Bartolotta-R-Washington), reported out of his Committee in January, urging Gov. Wolf to lift his moratorium on state forest land leasing.
He pointed to provisions in the resolution supporting non-surface disturbance horizontal drilling, which he said means no cutting roads or trees to extract the natural gas.
Secretary Dunn said she does not believe additional drilling could be done without surface disturbance.  She also cautioned the current natural gas market may not support the same level of upfront payments DCNR has received in the previous leases.
She said there has been a lot of development on state forest leases already and probably more leasing than should have been allowed.
John Norbeck, Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry, noted the existing drilling leases are only about 40 percent built out, with 60 percent to go.
In response to a question from Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Dunn said the agency will soon issue its second monitoring report documenting the impacts of drilling on state forests.  Norbeck added the report should be available by May 30.
DCNR works with a Natural Gas Advisory Committee on the report and other issues related to drilling on state forest lands.  For more information, visit DCNR’s Natural Gas Management webpage.
[Note: In January of 2017, Sen. Yaw and other Pennsylvania members of the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission wrote to members of the Senate and House pointing to the need for a dedicated Clean Water Fund for PA and a new water use fee as one way to fund the initiative.]
Lyme Timber Loan
In response to a question from Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), Dunn provided background on a recent $25.4 million loan from the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority to Lyme Timber Company to put over 9,362 acres of private forest land into a working forest conservation easement.
The funding will help create over 50 new forestry jobs and leverage over $91 million of private investment in 7 counties: Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, Potter and Venango.  Dunn said a total of $50 million has been loaned by PennVEST to Lyme Timber for the project.
The project will also serve to preserve, protect and improve water quality. The property includes an acid mine drainage restoration project within the Sterling Run tract.
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.
ATV Use Expansion
In response to questions by Sen. Yaw and Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) about expanding ATV riding opportunities, John Norbeck, and Laura Imgrund, DCNR Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services, said the agency is completing a study looking at expanding ATV riding opportunities across the state, including locating sites for ATV parks and expanding ATV trails.  The study should be available by mid-summer.
Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh), Majority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed his concern about signs of “financial stress” in the Oil and Gas Lease and Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) funds because they have been used to keep the agency running.  He said once you spend out these funds it is difficult for them to recover.
Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia), Minority Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voiced a concern about additional drilling on DCNR lands saying “once you use it, you lose it” and the Commonwealth has to think carefully about how these valuable public resources are to be managed.
Click Here for a copy of Secretary Dunn’s written testimony.
Click Here for video of Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearings and the complete hearing schedule.
This completes DCNR's initial Senate and House budget hearings.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, 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: Deputy Secretary for Administration Michael Walsh, Secretary Dunn, Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, and Deputy Secretary Lauren Imgrund.)
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Game Commission: Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon Counties In New Chronic Wasting Disease Zone

People who live and hunt deer within parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties now need to comply with special rules intended to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The Game Commission Wednesday established Disease Management Area 4 (DMA 4) in response to a CWD-positive deer recently detected at a captive deer farm in Lancaster County.
DMA 4 encompasses 346 square miles in northeastern Lancaster County, southeastern Lebanon County and western Berks County. The northern part of DMA 4 runs roughly between the cities of Lebanon and Reading.
The DMA includes the boroughs of Adamstown, Denver, Ephrata, Mohnton, Richland, Womelsdorf and Wyomissing. State Game Lands 46, 220, 225, 274 and 425 are included in DMA 4.
Within DMAs, special rules apply. The intentional feeding of deer is prohibited. Hunters may not use urine-based deer attractants or possess them while afield.
And hunters who harvest deer within a DMA may not transport the carcass outside the DMA without first removing and properly disposing of all high-risk deer parts, including the head and backbone.
While the rules might pose an inconvenience, they are meant to slow the spread of CWD, which so far has been detected in only a few parts of the state.
“CWD is an increasing problem in Pennsylvania, and as the disease emerges in new areas, more Pennsylvanians are impacted,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “To this point, however, CWD has been detected in captive or free-ranging deer only in a few, isolated areas of the state. That’s good news for all Pennsylvanians who enjoy deer and deer hunting. And we continue to focus our resources on ways to minimize CWD’s impacts statewide.”
CWD, which is always fatal to deer, elk and other cervids, first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County. CWD has been detected among free-ranging deer in two areas of the state.
In addition to establishing DMA 4, the Game Commission will increase its CWD sampling there.
Within DMA 4, the agency will begin testing all known road-killed deer for CWD. Come hunting season, bins for the collection of deer heads and other high-risk deer parts will be placed in areas for the public to use.
Hunters who deposit the heads of the deer they harvest in designated collection bins will be able to have their deer tested, free of charge. And DMAP permits for use within DMA 4 will be available for purchase.
Wayne Laroche, the Game Commission’s special assistant for CWD response, said increased sampling within DMA 4 is necessary to find out whether CWD exists among free-ranging deer there, and adjust the response accordingly.
“We need to know the full extent of the CWD problem in any area where the disease exists,” Laroche said. “We have not detected CWD among free-ranging deer in DMA 4, and maybe we won’t. But if CWD is out there, we surely need to know about it to confront it head-on.”
Click Here for the complete announcement.
For more information, visit the Game Commission Chronic Wasting Disease webpage.

Environmental Groups Appeal DEP Agreement With Sunoco Allowing Restart Of Mariner East 2 Construction, Sue For Breach Of Contract

On Wednesday, Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association, Inc. filed two new lawsuits against the Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Pipeline L.P. for unlawful conduct related to Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipelines.
On February 8, 2018, DEP and Sunoco entered into a Consent Order and Agreement that allowed Sunoco to resume construction activities that had been shut down by DEP on January 3, 2018 because of the mounting list of Sunoco’s willful and egregious permit violations.  
The Consent Order and Agreement walked back environmental protections that DEP and Sunoco had previously committed to in their August 2017 settlement with the groups, and in particular, weakened the protocols for preventing and responding to drilling fluid spills.
These spills, most frequently the result of Sunoco’s poor horizontal directional drilling practices, have contaminated drinking water supplies and other natural resources across the state.  
The groups appealed the February 8, 2018 Consent Order and Agreement with the Environmental Hearing Board and filed a separate breach of contract complaint in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, including a request for an injunction.  
“It is unacceptable that groups like ours had to force DEP and Sunoco to agree to these important environmental protections in the first place.  To walk back legally-required protections now not only violates our agreement, it is an incredible breach of the public’s trust by an agency that is supposed to be serving them,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council.
“When DEP halted construction of Mariner East 2, it seemed like they were finally listening to the concerns of impacted residents and communities. However, by allowing construction to resume and scaling back hard-fought environmental protections, DEP leaves us no other choice but to take legal action yet again to protect citizens’ rights,” said Melissa Marshall, an attorney with Mountain Watershed Association.
“DEP has demonstrated a tremendous bias in support of pipelines serving the fracking industry.  As a result, communities are being consistently abused by the industry with the full support of the DEP.  DEP entering into an agreement with Sunoco that ignores their obligations to our organizations and the communities we represent, is a sad testament to just how in bed with the industry DEP is,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
For more information on DEP’s actions, visit DEP’s Mariner East II Pipeline webpage.
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CFA Accepting Applications For Green Building, Renewable Energy Grants

The Commonwealth Financing Authority is now accepting applications for its High Performance Building and Renewable Energy Grant Programs throughout 2018.  Here’s a quick rundown on the programs--
-- Alternative & Clean Energy: funds grants and loans for construction of alternative and clean energy projects;
-- Renewable Energy-Geothermal and Wind: funds activities to assist with geothermal technologies and wind energy projects;
-- Solar Energy Program: provides financial assistance in the form of loan funds to promote the use of alternative solar energy in Pennsylvania; and
-- High Performance Building Program: funds activities to assist with the construction or renovation associated with a high performance building.
Applications for these programs are due at least 60 days prior to the scheduled meetings of the CFA board.  The deadlines are: March 23, May 18, July 20 and September 15.
Applicants are strongly urged to contact their House and Senate member to make them aware you intend to submit an application for funding under theses programs.
For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit the Commonwealth Financing Authority Energy Programs webpage.  Questions should be directed to 717-787-6245.

CFA Accepting Applications For Act 13 Water-Related, Recreation Grants Until May 31

The Commonwealth Financing Authority is now accepting applications for grants funded by Act 13 for watershed restoration, abandoned mine drainage abatement, baseline water quality data, orphaned or abandoned well plugging, sewage facilities and flood mitigation programs.  The deadline for applications is May 31.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s available and the links for more details--
-- Watershed Restoration: The overall goal of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Program  is to restore, and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff, and ultimately to remove these streams from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Impaired Waters list.
-- Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment: Projects which involve the reclamation of Abandoned Mine Well(s), construction of a new AMD site, remediation and repair of existing AMD project sites, operation and maintenance maintaining current AMD remediation sites, establishment of trust fund to ensure ongoing maintenance is achieved, and monitoring of water quality to track or continue to trace nonpoint source load reductions resulting from AMD remediation projects.
-- Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program: Projects which involve the cleaning out and plugging of abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells; stray gas mitigation systems; and well venting projects.
-- Baseline Water Quality Data: Projects which involve practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions on private water supplies.
-- Sewage Facilities Program: Costs associated with the planning work required under Act 537 Sewage Facilities Act.
-- Flood Mitigation: Projects authorized by a flood protection authority, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or identified by a local government for flood mitigation are eligible for the program.
-- Greenways, Trails And Recreation Program: Projects which involve development, rehabilitation and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation.
Applicants are strongly urged to contact their House and Senate member to make them aware you intend to submit an application for funding under theses programs.
For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit the Commonwealth Financing Authority Act 13 Programs webpage.  Questions should be directed to 717-787-6245.

Eastern PA Coalition For Abandoned Mine Reclamation Paint Night! Fundraiser March 29 Using Pigments Made From Treated AML Drainage

The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation will hold a Paint Night! fundraiser on March 29 at the EPCAMR Office, 101 South Main Street in Ashley, Luzerne County from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Join EPCAMR and The Canvas Creation Company for a fun canvas painting night.  A 16x20 pre-drawn canvas, all painting supplies and step by step painting instructions will be provided.
The red-related paints used in Paint Night! use pigments from iron oxides removed from abandoned mine drainage treated in EPCAMR projects.
The donation is $35 per person with light refreshments
Click Here for all the details and to buy tickets online.  Questions should be directed to 570-817-0911.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation website.

PA Wilds Center Awards, Conference Celebrating 15 Years Of The Wilds At Work April 26-27

The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. Wednesday announced registration is open for the 2018 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards, to be held on April 26 at the Pajama Factory in Williamsport, Lycoming County.
This year also marks the launch of the new Creative Entrepreneur’s Conference, taking place on April 27. These special events are the premier annual networking opportunity in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
The theme this year is “Celebrating 15 Years – The Wilds at Work,” to commemorate 15 years of the Pennsylvania Wilds work, region, and mission.
Williamsport is the eastern gateway to the Pennsylvania Wilds, and the region’s largest city.  The Pajama Factory is a rejuvenated, historic factory complex with multiple uses, including a business incubator, space for large events, and work spaces for creative makers.
More than 250 businesses and community leaders from across the Pennsylvania Wilds, along with state partners and officials from Harrisburg, will gather for the dinner and conference to get an update on the state and local effort to grow the region’s economy and recognize award winner Champions of the PA Wilds while celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the Pennsylvania Wilds.
PA Wilds Award Nominations
The 2018 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards program will spotlight the Champion of the Pennsylvania Wild Awards.
The Awards are given out annually to individuals, groups, organizations, communities and businesses, that in the last year, have made significant contributions to help grow and sustainably develop the outdoor recreation economy and nature tourism in the Pennsylvania Wilds in a way that creates jobs, diversifies local economies, inspires stewardship and improves quality of life.
The region’s 12 county governments, visitor bureaus and many local organizations participate in the effort, along with the departments of Conservation & Natural Resources and Community & Economic Development.
All are encouraged to submit nominations for the PA Wilds Champion Awards; nominations are due March 23.
Dinner & Awards
The April 26 Annual Dinner & Awards will open at 3:00 p.m. with networking opportunities during a reception of the Creative Makers Exhibit, on display at Gallery Works.
Guest speakers for the dinner will include:
-- Eric Bridges, Executive Director, North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, will share comments on the history and progress of the movement -- "The Wilds Are Working: a reflection on the PA Wilds, 15 years in the making."
-- Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, will deliver a keynote speech during the PA Wilds Annual Awards Dinner. Gohl, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his role at ARC in March 2010, oversees hundreds of ARC investments in community-based projects contributing to the economic growth of the Region – including in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Earl Gohl will be introduced by Sheri R. Collins, Deputy Secretary, Office of Technology & Innovation, Department of Community & Economic Development.
The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. received a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission through the POWER Initiative to assist with nature tourism cluster development in the Pennsylvania Wilds. To date, ARC has invested $94 Million to help coal-impacted communities in 250 Appalachian counties to diversify and grow their economies.
The Creative Entrepreneur's Conference will begin at 8:30 a.m.  the next day, April 27th. Guests attending both events are encouraged to spend the night in Williamsport. Group hotel rates have been negotiated.
The Creative Entrepreneur's Conference is a one-day educational conference for entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes from the Pennsylvania Wilds. Hosted by the Wilds Cooperative and the PA Wilds Center.
The conference features guest speaker panel sessions on topic areas ranging from how to capitalize on Pennsylvania’s booming outdoor recreation economy, to marketing, wholesaling, and utilizing the PA Wilds Design Guide in your business.
Attendees will also learn how to maximize membership in the Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, and network with other regional creative entrepreneurs and business leaders. A luncheon keynote panel will focus on “Demystifying Entrepreneurship.” Conference attendees will also receive a tour of the Pajama Factory.
Said Ta Enos, Executive Director of the PA Wilds Center, “We are really excited to celebrate 15 years of the Pennsylvania Wilds work with our partners. We have accomplished a tremendous amount together during this time, and we are primed to break new ground with growth goals spanning the next 15 years and beyond. The work has always been about unifying regional stakeholders, working together and partnership. The PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards gives us an opportunity to come together in one room to celebrate these achievements, be inspired for what is on the horizon, and to recognize the many diverse participants that help us lead the region’s growth. We are also thrilled to host the first ever Creative Entrepreneur’s Conference; our businesses and creative makers are the backbone of our tourism economy. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and growing in the region, impacting jobs and real economic growth in our communities. Sharing best practices, working together and learning from each other is what we do best in the Pennsylvania Wilds.”
The Pennsylvania Wilds, one of the state’s 11 official tourism regions, covers about a quarter of the Commonwealth and includes the counties of Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Elk, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield and the northern part of Centre county.
The region is known for its more than 2 million acres of public land, and also boasts two National Wild & Scenic Rivers, some of the darkest skies in the country and the largest wild elk herd in the Northeast.
Visitors spend an estimated $1.7 billion in the region each year, according to the most recent statistics.
For more information, visit the 2018 PA Wilds Annual Dinner & Awards and Creative Entrepreneur’s Conference webpages.
More information on initiatives, programs and resources is available at the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. website.

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