Thursday, June 28, 2018

Grants Available To Improve Sinnemahoning Watershed In Cameron, Elk, McKean, Potter Counties

The Fish and Boat Commission Thursday announced it is now accepting applications for the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Grant Program.  The deadline for applications is September 29.
Project applicants must meet the eligibility criteria and must use the application form specified in the grant application package. Note that there have been some changes to the application package since the last round of awards in 2016.
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; abandoned mine drainage treatment systems or mine reclamation projects that result in significant improvements to water resources that are likely to benefit fish and other aquatic life; acquisition and development of properties for public fishing and boating access; enhancement or restoration of populations of specified aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need; storm water conservation practices/best management practices (including Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) practices for dirt, gravel, and low volume roads) that maintain or improve water quality and/or habitat for fish and other aquatic life; and acid deposition abatement and alkaline addition to remediate adverse impacts from acidic precipitation to habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
Further description of these types of eligible projects and instructions for applying can be found within the grant application package available on the agency website.
Awarding of funds for any selected projects will be contingent upon availability of funds. Currently, the balance of unobligated funds remaining in the program account is approximately $800,000. For this round, the PFBC 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.
The PFBC anticipates final selection and public announcement of grant awards by the end of January 2019.
For more information about applying, visit the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Grant Program webpage or contact Fisheries Biologist Jeff Schmid at 814-359-5242 or send email to:
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