Friday, July 31, 2020

Agriculture: Apply Now For $10 Million In REAP Farm Conservation Tax Credits

On July 31, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced the availability of $10 million in tax credits to farmers for measures to improve soil and water quality.  Tax credits are considered on a first come, first served basis and are usually oversubscribed.
Tax credits are available through Pennsylvania’s nationally recognized Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP), which was expanded under the 2019 PA Farm Bill.
“Farmers are the original stewards of our land and water resources,” said Redding. “REAP tax credits are just one element of our strategy to support their stewardship and grow a viable, sustainable Pennsylvania farm economy to feed our future.”
REAP is a Pennsylvania tax credit program for agricultural producers who implement best management practices (BMP) or purchase equipment that reduces nutrient and sediment runoff, enhancing soil and improving the quality of Pennsylvania’s waterways. 
This is the 14th year Pennsylvania farmers have been able to take advantage of REAP tax credits. 
Farmers may receive up to $250,000 in any seven-year period, and spouses filing jointly can use REAP Tax Credits. 
The most common projects approved are for no-till planting and precision ag equipment, waste storage facilities, conservation plans, Nutrient Management Plans, and protecting animal heavy-use areas, like barnyards. 
Cover crops and riparian stream buffers are also common REAP-eligible practices. Farmers may receive REAP tax credits of 50 to 75 percent of the project’s eligible out-of-pocket cost. 
Farmers whose operation is in a watershed with an EPA-mandated Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) can receive REAP tax credits of 90 percent of out-of-pocket costs for some projects.
Tax credits can be used in conjunction with other funding sources such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Chesapeake Bay Program or Conservation Excellence Grants to help install BMPs.
REAP applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Baseline eligibility includes compliance with the PA Clean Streams Law and the Pennsylvania Nutrient and Odor Management Law.
Private investors may act as project sponsors by providing capital in exchange for tax credits. 
Any individual or business subject to taxation by Pennsylvania through personal income tax, corporate net income tax, the bank shares tax or others is eligible to participate in REAP.
Since the program began in 2007, REAP has awarded tax credits to more than 5,500 projects totaling over $100 million. 
Improvements from these projects have kept more than 5 million pounds of nitrogen, 250,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 250,000 tons of sediment out of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania and the waterways they feed. 
Private investments in REAP have also contributed to the conservation projects, which in total are worth nearly $250 million.
For all the details, visit Agriculture’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) webpage.  Questions should be directed to Joel Semke by sending email to: or call 717-705-4032. 
Related Articles:
-- The Guardian: Loss Of Bees Causes Shortage Of Key Food Crops, Study Finds [Apples, Pumpkins In PA]
[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

July 31 Take Five Fridays With Pam, PA Parks & Forests Foundation

The July 31 Take Five Fridays With Pam is now available from the PA Parks and Forests Foundation featuring these articles--
-- Lunch & Learn Video: Michele Burton, Forest Therapy Guide
-- Contribute To New Camping Enhancements Campaign - Buy A Fire Ring Or Picnic Table
-- Visit the Foundation Calendar and the DCNR Calendar Of Events for Happenings Near You
For more information on programs, initiatives, special events and how you can get involved, visit the PA Parks & Forests Foundation website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Foundation,  Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter or tune in to their YouTube ChannelClick Here to become a member of the Foundation.
The Foundation and their 46 chapters mobilize 65,000 volunteers annually to steward YOUR state parks and forests.
(Photo: Waiting In The Rain at Goddard State Park, Mercer County, by Twisted Mountain Photography.)
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[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Dept. Of Health Reported 13 Additional Deaths Due To COVID-19; 970 New Cases

On July 31, the Department of Health reported 14 additional deaths as a result of COVID-19 bringing the total number of deaths to 7,189.
As of 12:00 a.m. July 31, there were 970 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 112,048 in all 67 counties.
Approximately 8,214 of Pennsylvania’s total positive cases are in health care workers.
Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:
-- 1 percent are ages 0-4;
-- 1 percent are ages 5-12;
-- 3 percent are ages 13-18;
-- 9 percent are ages 19-24;
-- 37 percent are ages 25-49;
-- Nearly 23 percent are ages 50-64; and
-- Nearly 25 percent are ages 65 or older.
Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date. More data is available here.
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 19,484 resident cases of COVID-19, and  3,934 cases among employees, for a total of 23,418 at 850 distinct facilities in 61 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,904 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.  Click Here for a county breakdown.
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: July 31, 2020]

DCNR Could Be Changing Shuttle Token Fee At Ohiopyle State Park

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources published a notice in the August 1 PA Bulletin it could be changing the present $4 per person fee for a shuttle token at Ohiopyle State Park to a fee that could range from $4 to $24 per reservation or registration.
The shuttle service provides transportation for whitewater paddlers from the end point of their run to the starting point at Ohiopyle on the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County.
Having a fee range gives Ohiopyle State Park the flexibility to adapt to local conditions in the future.  
There are no plans at the moment to raise the fee beyond the $4 per reservation or registration.
  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.
[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Get Your Items Ready For PA Resources Council ReuseFest In Erie Sept. 12, Pittsburgh, Oct. 17

The PA Resources Council and UPMC will host a ReuseFest in two locations this fall-- September 12 in Erie and October 17 in Pittsburgh.
ReuseFest is a one-day drop off event open to the general public that diverts materials from local landfills to reuse by local nonprofit groups.
Started in 2012 through the generous support of the Sprout Fund and other local sponsors, ReuseFest is a one-day drop off event open to the general public that diverts materials from local landfills to reuse by Pittsburgh nonprofits.
PRC collaborates with a number of local nonprofits to provide the public with the opportunity to easily donate items that otherwise may have ended up in the trash. ReuseFest helped to connect these usable materials with great local non-profit organizations who found ways to give this material a second life, while benefiting those in need.
Visit the ReuseFest webpage for a list of acceptable items and participating nonprofits in the Erie and Pittsburgh locations.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on FacebookClick Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.  Click Here to support their work.
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[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

DCED Announces $1.042 Million To Clean Up Fmr Industrial Sites In Berks, Bucks, Montgomery Counties

On July 31, the Department of Community and Economic Development announced the award of $1,042,794 in Industrial Sites Reuse Program grants to clean up former industrial sites in Berks, Bucks and Montgomery counties.
The grants will be used to prepare them for use as residential properties, open space for park systems, and manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, call centers, and for small business space in general.
“Investing in bringing new life to old and unutilized properties creates clean and safe spaces for surrounding communities,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “These projects will result in new opportunities like housing options, space for future outdoor recreational activities, and new jobs for these three counties.”
The ISRP provides loans and grants for environmental assessments and remediation carried out by eligible applicants who did not cause or contribute to the contamination. 
The program is designed to foster the cleanup of environmental contamination at industrial sites, thereby bringing blighted land into productive reuse.
The three approved projects are:
-- Berks County: The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Reading was granted $878,612 for environmental remediation of the former Buttonwood Gateway site in Reading. 
The authority is partnering with the Delaware Valley Development Company (DVDC) to revitalize a long-blighted property by constructing 28 interlocking townhomes with integral parking garages, 12 walk-up apartments, and six three-bedroom townhomes, all with individual entrances and on-site parking. 
ISRP funds will be used to excavate the soil to an off-site disposal facility; place a cap to eliminate direct contact with soil; install monitory wells and three separate phase liquid recovery wells; conduct quarterly groundwater sampling, soil sampling, and separate phase liquid sampling; liquid waste characterization and disposal; drum disposal; soil vapor reporting; inspections; well abandonment; and reporting.
-- Bucks County: The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks (RDA) was granted $87,600 for an assessment at the former Bensalem Drum Dump Site. The site includes six blighted acres. 
A Phase I Assessment was completed in 2017 and revealed concentrations of several heavy metals including lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), perchloroethylene (PCE), and trichloroethylene (TCE). 
A Phase II Assessment was recently completed through a Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program (GTRP) grant. The RDA will continue assessing the site which is intended to be preserved as open space and incorporated into Bensalem Township’s municipal park system. 
ISRP funds will be used for soil investigation, groundwater sampling and analysis activities, groundwater monitoring wells, groundwater monitoring well survey activities, sub-slab soil gas sampling and analysis activities, aquifer testing, fate and transport modeling, Act 2 remedial investigation reports, and Act 2 procedural requirements.
-- Montgomery County: The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Montgomery was granted $76,582 for an assessment of the former Pottstown Plating Works property. The site is 3.89 acres and contains a two-story, 46,500-square-foot vacant building. 
The assessment will include soil samples, ground water samples, vapor intrusion evaluation, and reporting. 
The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Montgomery is working with 215 South Washington Street, LLC, to assess and remediate the site for use for light manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, call center, and general small business. 
The project is anticipated to create between 20 and 75 new jobs.
For more information on the program, visit DCED’s Industrial Sites Reuse Program webpage.
[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

PEMA/Health Urge Residents To Prepare for Hurricane Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

As the peak of hurricane season nears, the Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency urged Pennsylvanians to have an emergency plan in place if a hurricane or tropical storm is forecasted to impact the state during COVID-19. 
Hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30 in the Eastern United States, can bring dangerous storms that include threats such as flash flooding -- the leading cause of disaster-related deaths in Pennsylvania --  river flooding, storm surge, damaging winds and tornadoes.
“It is essential that everyone take proper steps to be prepared as we near the peak of hurricane season,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Any actions to protect yourself from immediate threats to life safety should take priority, such as evacuating before a hurricane or tropical storm. Additionally, all COVID-19 protective action guidance should be followed as long as it does not slow response or cause greater harm.”
Tropical storms are storms with winds between 39 and 73 miles per hour that can bring heavy rain, lightning and significant flooding to the Commonwealth. 
Hurricanes are storms with winds at or above 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage from heavy rain, severe flooding, lightning, high winds, storm surge and tornadoes.
No matter where someone lives in Pennsylvania, it is important to prepare for the effects of a tropical storm. Everyone should have an emergency plan, including what they would do if they need to evacuate their home due to an approaching storm or severe flooding.
“Families should take the time now to plan how they would communicate with each other during an emergency and meet up once the danger has passed,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “Very few of us memorize phone numbers anymore, so everyone should have a paper copy of important phone numbers so you can contact loved ones from any phone. Then, practice your family plan, so everyone knows what to do, and you can work out any problems you encounter.”
Padfield said PEMA routinely works with state and county partners to ensure they are ready for any emergency, including the effects of tropical storm systems.
Families should check to make sure their home emergency kits are fully stocked with essential items, as power can take days to restore after a tropical storm or hurricane. A home emergency kit should contain:
-- Non-perishable food;
-- Bottled water (one gallon per person per day. A family of 4 needs a minimum of 12 gallons);
-- Medications;
-- Flashlight with spare batteries;
-- First aid kit;
-- Warm clothing; and
-- Any specialized items such as baby supplies or pet food.
Visit the ReadyPA website for more on developing family emergency plans.
Pandemic Precautions
In addition to traditional emergency kit items and as the pandemic continues, include an extra clean mask for each person in the household. 
As a reminder, on July 1, Secretary Dr. Levine signed an order mandating universal mask-wearing. 
Research shows that mask-wearing reduces risk of infection from COVID-19, while not wearing a mask greatly increases a person’s chances of being infected by this contagious and deadly virus.  
Individuals must wear face coverings unless they pose a risk to one’s health and safety. In general, though, face coverings must be worn, especially during an evacuation where this is high risk of exposure. 
Mere discomfort is not considered a risk to an individual’s health or safety. Face shields are an acceptable alternative for individuals who are medically excused from wearing a mask.
In addition to wearing a mask, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures, including frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces often, and staying home when sick to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
In the case of an evacuation, if soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative to keep hands clean.
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.
Resource Link:
National Weather Service Hurricane Center
Related Article:
[Posted: July 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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