Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Game Commission Cancels 2020 Seedling Sales Programs

On March 31, the Game Commission announced its Howard Nursery will not distribute seedlings as a result of mandatory closings and delays caused by COVID-19.
The nursery annually has provided over a million seedlings to Hunter Access Program cooperators, who allow public hunting on their properties, the Seedlings for Schools program and public sales.
Thankfully, no seedling beds yet had been opened. All seedlings will remain in beds until next spring for 2021 distribution.
“It is disappointing our seedlings can’t be distributed this year, but we look forward to the 2021 seedling season,” noted Brian Stone, nursery manager. “We expect to have a greater variety and higher quantities of seedlings – some in larger sizes.”
Unfortunately, the nursery had already received public orders. So, over the next few weeks, nursery staff will contact those who ordered to provide refunds, which will be provided in the order in which they were received.
Seedlings for Schools orders also will be alerted through email in the same order requests were received.
The nursery is closed currently; no one is available to answer phone calls. If you call, leave a message and someone will contact you. Please be patient for refunds.
Visit the Game Commission’s Howard Nursery webpage for more information on seedling sale programs.
[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Call For Presentations: CitiesAlive Green Infrastructure Conference Nov. 15-18, Philadelphia

CitiesAlive is now accepting proposals for presentations at its CitiesAlive Green Infrastructure and Water In A Changing Climate Conference in Philadelphia November 15-18.  Proposals are due April 19.
CitiesAlive is the leading green roof and wall conference in North America.
As a city with one of the most progressive stormwater management plans in the United States, Philadelphia paves the way for governments to invest in all forms of green stormwater infrastructure. 
The Conference will offer insight into Philly’s unique design, research and policy environments that has fostered the development of more than 1,100 greened acres since 2009.
CitiesAlive provides a unique opportunity for design, policy, research and nonprofit professionals to connect. Attendees will discover resilience and revitalization tools and strategies for resilient, healthier cities. 
Learn from the success and leadership of progressive cities that are leading the way in resilience planning.

(Reprinted from the PA Land Trust Association website.)
[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

2020 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference Will Now Be Held Oct. 28-29 In State College

The organizers of the 2020 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference have announced they are moving the Conference to October 28-19 due to concerns over the COVID-19 virus.
The Conference will be held at the Ramada Inn Conference Center in State College.
Visit the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference website for more details soon.
[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

PA Envirothon Cancels 2020 Pennsylvania State Envirothon Competition; Working On Natural Challenges

The Pennsylvania Envirothon Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to cancel the State Competition scheduled to be held May 19-20 due to concerns about COVID-19.
This decision was not easy, said Envirothon PA, but it was made in the best interest of the health and safety of its participants-- students and teachers, volunteers, agency partners, sponsors, and many others.
Natural Challenges
PA Envirothon is working on some Natural Challenges to keep Envirothon teams engaged as we prepare for the 2021 Envirothon season.   
Watch the PA Envirothon website for details in the next several weeks.
For more information, visit the PA Envirothon website.  Click Here to sign up for email updates (bottom of page). Questions should be directed to  Envirothon Executive Director, Lorelle Steach by sending email to: lsteach@envirothonpa.org
[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Weighing All Options To Oppose Weakened Federal Vehicle Emission Standards

On March 31, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA announced it is considering all options to oppose the final rule weakening vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards the Trump administration unveiled March 31. 
The rule threatens to accelerate the damaging effects of climate change in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and derail states’ progress in reducing nitrogen pollution by 2025, a key element of the Bay cleanup plan.
“Cleaner cars are essential to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. By allowing dirtier cars and pickup trucks on the road, the Trump administration is recklessly making the Bay region more vulnerable to the damaging effects of climate change and undermining the decades-long effort to save the Bay and its waterways,” said Vice President for Environmental Restoration and Protection Lisa Feldt
“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has already challenged other Trump administration regulations that sacrifice the health of the Bay ecosystem to advance its regulatory rollback agenda. We are considering all options to keep this rule from harming the Bay watershed and the 18 million people who live and work in it.”
In place of the Obama administration’s requirement that GHG emissions and fuel economy standards tighten by five percent annually through 2026, the new rule requires standards to rise just 1.5 percent a year. 
This dramatic rollback will drive up emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen pollution into the Bay and the local rivers, streams, and creeks that feed it.
The Bay region is already grappling with the economic and social costs of climate change effects such as sea level rise, warming waters, coastal erosion and flooding, and more frequent and intense storms. 
Sea level has increased significantly in Baltimore and Norfolk. In Maryland alone, rising waters could destroy more than 61,000 homes-- valued at $19 million-- by 2100. 
Allowing carbon dioxide emissions to rise will only exacerbate the hardships the watershed’s 18 million people face due to climate change.
Nitrogen is one of the main Chesapeake Bay pollutants the watershed’s six states and the District of Columbia must cut significantly by 2025 under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. 
Roughly one-third of nitrogen pollution in the Bay comes from the air, much of it in the form of nitrogen oxides released from auto exhaust and power plants. 
The Blueprint includes a specific goal to curb emissions because EPA recognized the critical importance of limiting air pollution to restoring the Bay.
But to meet this goal by the 2025 deadline, EPA was relying on many of the same clean air laws and regulations the Trump administration is weakening or repealing—including the auto emissions limits it just watered down. 
By slowing the transition to a cleaner fleet and allowing more nitrogen pollution into the air, the administration is undermining the watershed cleanup effort it is supposed to be leading. 
The weaker rule also jeopardizes public health, especially for people living in disadvantaged communities.
CBF is part of a coalition challenging the administration’s repeal of California’s authority to set tougher GHG emissions standards and sales mandates for zero-emissions vehicles. 
Four of the six states in Bay watershed (Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia have adopted elements of California’s program in their efforts to fight climate change, reduce air pollution, and restore the Bay ecosystem.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here to support their work.
Also visit the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to learn how you can help clean water grow on trees.
[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Natural Systems In Lebanon County Return $925 Million In Economic Benefits To The Community Every Year

A new Return On Environment study reports natural systems-- farmland, open space, forested areas and stream buffers-- contribute over $925 million annually to Lebanon County’s economy by filtering water, cleaning the air, controlling flooding and sustaining wildlife.
The study was guided by a local steering committee of individuals from diverse backgrounds-- interested citizens and those with experience in nonprofits, government, and business-- who provided ideas, critical thinking, innovation, and data with across-the-board support.
The major objectives of the study were to--
-- The monetary value of natural system services (the flow of goods and services that benefits people, directly or indirectly, from ecosystem functions);
-- The value of improved air quality relating to healthcare costs;
-- The monetary value of outdoor recreation and the number of participants;
-- The spatial distribution of natural resources’ financial value; and
-- The integration of new land-use and habitat-expansion tools into everyday practice.
The report documented these major economic contributors to Lebanon County’s economy--
-- Agriculture: Agriculture in the county generates over $350 million in annual total sales from 1,149 farms averaging 94 acres each;
-- Recreation: Outdoor recreation in the county provides over $183.9 million in annual total revenue, creates 1,800 jobs and saves $67 million a year in healthcare costs;
-- Natural Systems: Open space, forested areas, watershed areas provide over $309.8 million in annual savings in producing clean drinking water, flood protection, recreation and tourism opportunities.
Challenges & Issues
Promoting sustainable economic growth while maintaining a high quality of life, low cost of living, good health, and a unique sense of place is Lebanon County’s major challenge. 
A second, and more difficult, challenge is how to balance the health of natural systems to support a sustainable economy. 
Research shows that the most efficient way to avoid excessive future costs is to increase the connectivity of large forests and riparian corridors (ecosystems of plant life growing near natural bodies of water) so that they may function and retain resiliency under a wider range of weather conditions
Also identified as major challenges and issues in the county, were--
-- Population Growth: Lebanon County has the second-fastest-growing population by county in the state;
-- Aging Population: An aging population is impacting the local population and culture.  After high school, many young people look for jobs outside the region or go on to college and have difficulty finding jobs back home once they graduate.
-- Water Supply: Studies on possible water-supply shortages during drought times by 2030 have been conducted, which indicate that water supply may be an issue for future growth;
-- Water Quality: 58.6 percent of Lebanon County’s waterways are under some level of impairment. Less than half of the riparian buffers (vegetated areas along waterways that help shade and protect from the impact of adjacent land use) in the county are providing financial benefits; 
-- Riparian Buffer Value: Current riparian buffers provide $47.7 million per year in return on environment;
-- Outdoor Recreation: As Millennials continue to prioritize outdoor recreation opportunities, participation rates should increase. However, the demand for outdoor recreation in Lebanon County exceeds the business capacity to meet it.
-- Farmland Loss: Since 2012, Lebanon County has lost 11.4 percent of its farmland and 5.74 percent of its farms.
-- Sprawl: Pennsylvanians have consumed more land per person than any other state. Sprawl accelerates the fragmentation and depletion of forests, wetlands, and other open areas where cost-free natural system services occur, and contributes to the loss of critical habitat. Commercial and industrial development, farms, and open land generate more revenue than they require in services.
John Rogers, Keystone Conservation Trust, Tom West, Greener Planning and Ben Goodman Creative supported the study with consulting services.  The Swatara Watershed Association for supporting the study and Jo Ellen Litz for providing facilities for the Lebanon County Return on Environment meetings.
The Lebanon County ROE report is one of a series of studies documenting the value of natural systems in Berks, Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lehigh and Perry counties supported by the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition.
For more information, visit the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition Return On Environment webpage.
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[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Gov. Wolf Extends Stay At Home Order To Cameron, Crawford, Forest, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon, Somerset Counties

On March 31, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised their “Stay at Home” orders to include Cameron, Crawford, Forest, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon and Somerset counties, bringing the state total to 33 counties under a stay-at-home order. 
This order takes effect at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 31, 2020, and will continue until April 30. 
Yesterday, all stay-at-home orders were extended through April 30. 
All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed until further notice. 
Non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.
The stay at home order now includes these 33 counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Somerset, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.
Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:
-- Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
-- Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
-- Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
-- To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
-- To care for a family member or pet in another household
-- Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
-- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
-- Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
-- Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
-- Travel required by law enforcement or court order
-- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the Commonwealth
-- Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.
The following operations are exempt:
-- Life-sustaining business activities
-- Health care or medical services providers
-- Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
-- Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child -- Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
-- News media
-- Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
-- The federal government
-- Religious institutions
-- Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.
-- International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.
At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. 
To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. 
Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. 
Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.
For the latest information on the coronavirus and precautions to take in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage, Follow them on Twitter, or Like them on Facebook.
Helpful Links:
Responding To COVID-19 In Pennsylvania - General Resource Page All Topics
Attorney General - Coronavirus Price Gouging Updates 
[Posted: March 31, 2020]

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