Saturday, October 31, 2020

Feature: For These York County Retirees, Stewardship Is A Pastime

By Will Parson,
Chesapeake Bay Program

A neatly fenced native wildflower garden next to Tina and Jeff Gleim’s long gravel driveway is the first hint of how the retired couple is slowly reshaping their 69-acre property by hand.

The oval-shaped garden began with a kit from the York County Master Gardener Program, complete with 49 native plants from seven species that bloom throughout the growing season to offer a constant supply of food for pollinators. 

Tina, a certified Master Gardener, ordered more plants to effectively double the size of the garden.

“Next year it’ll be even bigger,” Tina says.

Jeff laughs as he says they have to keep expanding the garden fence. 

Having obtained a graduate degree in environmental pollution control decades ago, Jeff’s career took a different path. Now, after a long career at a local paper mill, an array of stewardship projects is something of a return to his roots. 

Through their own steady handiwork, the Gleims are offering more and more habitat for native plants and animals on their land.

The couple is standing in front of the rural home they purchased 17 years ago, in view of several other garden beds they have planted. They are surrounded by several fields that were actively farmed until just a few years ago. 

Along fences are bird boxes that Jeff built and Tina painted. Hanging from their barn are bat boxes that Jeff also built. A hole in the barn leads to an owl box installed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Walking to a milkweed patch near the barn, Tina gingerly moves a monarch caterpillar from a denuded plant stalk to one with more leaves for it to eat. She and Jeff spot a kestrel perched nearby, and muse about the possibility of installing a nesting platform for the raptor.

In addition to their Master Gardener activities, Tina and Jeff both became certified Master Watershed Stewards in 2019. 

To do so, they attended 40 hours of training and had to perform 50 hours of volunteer service their first year, followed by 20 hours every following year to maintain their certification. 

Lately, those hours include helping build rain barrels—25 sold at an event the weekend before—and volunteering at a tree sale.

“I’m at, like, 480 hours anyway,” Jeff says. “I kind of overshot, but I like to do stuff.”

Providing habitat, while protecting water

The Gleims decided to stop renting out their land for corn and soybean cultivation when they determined that they were losing more soil to erosion than it was worth.

“When we took it out of the farming, the soil just didn’t seem to be healthy to me,” Tina says.

Instead of crops on one hill are young trees, some of which were grown from seeds Tina collected from river birch, eastern redbud and silver maples. Watered by hand using milk jugs, each tree has to be mulched and fenced for protection from deer.

“We only plant maybe six to ten new trees a year because it’s a lot to take care of,” Tina says.

They now wait until July to mow their fields, so ground-nesting birds can nest and fledge in peace. And if they see native plants returning on their own, they mow around them.

“I’d like to have that whole field down there, where it’s mowed, be just all native grasses and flowers,” Tina says. 

Though they haven’t pursued it yet, a new turf conversion program in Pennsylvania may help—the state has set a goal of planting 5,000 acres of meadow and 5,000 acres of forest by 2025, in order to improve water quality and offer habitat.

Tina and Jeff have also worked with the nonprofit Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring based at Dickinson College for almost two years. And they were the only volunteer participants in the York County Coalition for Clean Waters, a stakeholder group that is central to implementing the York County Watershed Implementation Plan, which is the county’s plan for meeting Chesapeake Bay Program goals for clean water.

Looking to the future, the Gleims are considering ways to protect their land forever.

“I’d hate to have to sell it and have somebody develop it,” Jeff says.

The couple is considering a conservation easement, which would limit construction of new homes on the property in perpetuity.

“I want it to be just like it is, or more natural,” Tina says.

[PA Chesapeake Bay Plan

[For more information on how Pennsylvania plans to meet its Chesapeake Bay cleanup obligations, visit DEP’s PA’s Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan webpage. 

[Click Here for a summary of the steps the Plan recommends.

[How Clean Is Your Stream?

[DEP’s Interactive Report Viewer allows you to zoom in on your own stream or watershed to find out how clean your stream is or if it has impaired water quality using the latest information in the draft 2020 Water Quality Report.]


(Reprinted from the Chesapeake Bay Program Blog.)

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[Posted: October 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Fish & Boat Commission Reports Over 17,700 People Bought Voluntary Permits To Fund Fish Habitat, Conservation Projects

The following by Timothy Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Fish and Boat Commission, appears in the Nov./Dec.
Angler & Boater Magazine--

Much has been written about the dramatic increase in outdoor activities during 2020. Anglers and boaters have flocked to the water for fun, safe, convenient, and affordable recreation. 

As of this writing, fishing license sales are up nearly 20 percent for the year, and launch permits among those discovering and rediscovering the joys of unpowered boating have skyrocketed by nearly 40 percent. 

We are already looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the water in 2021.

These numbers are likely not a surprise to anyone who had an eye outside this year. Fishing rods, boats, and laughter on and along Pennsylvania water seemed to be everywhere you looked and listened.

When comparing figures to 2019, the one that saw the largest percentage increase may come as a surprise. 

Collectively, the four Voluntary Permits introduced in 2019 have seen an impressive 146 percent increase in sales, generating more than $280,000 for projects dedicated specifically to four categories: Bass, Musky, Habitat/Waterways Conservation, and Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters.

To the over 17,700 of you who voluntarily contributed to this budding program that directly supports the long-term viability of aquatic resources in Pennsylvania, thank you!

We were not sure of the degree to which anglers would make contributions to such a voluntary program, and we have been pleased with the response and implicit faith that it reflects in our stewardship of the funds.

It is important to emphasize that this program is allowing us to do more for the species and habitats you care about than we normally would have been able to accomplish. 

We are not simply using the Voluntary Permit proceeds to supplant other funds. They are additive, allowing us to install more habitat, conduct more surveys, acquire better equipment, and make a significant difference for the resource.

By far, the most popular offering has been the Voluntary Bass Permit, with sales of 6,791 permits so far this year. That is nearly double the numbers for Habitat/Waterways Conservation (3,878 permits) and Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters (3,448 permits). The Voluntary Musky Permit has been supported by nearly 2,413 people so far this year.

We pledged to transparently invest these contributions, and we have been doing just that with your support. 

Despite the trying circumstances of a field season like no other, our staff have been hard at work across the Commonwealth investing the proceeds from the permits. 

If you are one of the generous donors to this program, here are some examples of how we are implementing it on your behalf.

Lake Marburg, York County, is a 1,275-acre lake located in Codorus State Park and is a regional fishing destination.

With support from the Voluntary Bass Permit, we completed a large-scale habitat project that added fish habitat, improved angler access, and stabilized an eroding lakeshore. Habitat features included stone deflectors, rock rubble humps, and felled shoreline trees. 

I was happy to join our team at the lake to see them in action, and, as always, it was great to be a part of the energy that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) staff bring to their jobs every day. 

From the biologists who design the projects to the crew who operate the heavy machinery, the PFBC staff are working for you.

Bass projects also included fish habitat improvements in Lake Arthur, Butler County; Woodcock Creek Lake, Crawford County; and Blue Marsh Reservoir, Berks County. 

Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages the waters at Lake Marburg and Lake Arthur, and to the United States Army Corps of Engineers for their cooperation at Woodcock Creek Lake and Blue Marsh Reservoir. 

With support from the bass funds, we are also conducting an opinion survey of tournament bass anglers to help determine fisheries management decisions statewide.

Other 2020 projects include stream habitat improvements in the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters section of First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek, Potter County; unassessed wild Brook Trout surveys in the Delaware and Lower Susquehanna Basins; deployment of Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags and arrays to assess wild Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout movement in the Upper Delaware River; removal of five culverts to restore connectivity to 4.3 miles of Ott Fork, Lycoming County; acquisition of portable power winches used in the placement of large wood debris statewide; and the purchase of minnows and an inline water heating system to assist efforts to raise larger muskies that have a greater chance of survival and, ultimately, of being there for anglers to enjoy.

All of these projects were supported by Voluntary Permits sold in 2019. With more than twice as much funding being generated in 2020, anglers should expect to hear about even more exciting and meaningful projects being implemented in 2021. 

We will be featuring more success stories in e-mail messages, social media posts, and other outlets. 

If you read about something you like, please share it with fellow fishing and boating enthusiasts who may like to learn more about what we are doing for them.

Thank you again for the trust and confidence that is reflected in every Voluntary Permit contribution. You are making a difference.

[Voluntary Permits

[Four new Voluntary Permits were introduced in 2019. These optional permits provide anglers with an opportunity to provide financial support to specific programs and projects. 

Each is available as an annual, 3-year, 5-year or 10-year permit.

-- Habitat/Waterways Conservation Permit: For anglers and non-anglers alike, this voluntary permit is for all who utilize the waterways of Pennsylvania. From bikers to trail walkers to birders to anglers, the Voluntary Habitat/Waterways Conservation Permit benefits those who appreciate the resources of Pennsylvania.

-- Wild Trout & Enhanced Waters Permit: This voluntary permit will benefit wild trout fisheries, improve habitat, and maintain and enhance the existing Pennsylvania's Best Fishing Waters for wild trout.

Wild trout projects may include instream habitat work designed to improve a population from a lower biomass class to a higher biomass class, as well as fund further research needs for wild trout. Funds from this permit will not be used on trout stocking programs.

-- Bass Permit: The monetary resources raised from the Voluntary Bass Permit allow the Commission to manage bass fisheries in multiple ways. 

Efforts and initiatives include improvements to boat area access in key bass fishing waters, habitat improvement to increase natural bass reproduction, maintaining and improving Pennsylvania's Best Fishing Waters for bass, and financial support for PFBC hatcheries to improve bass culture methods and increase the size of bass fingerlings stocked.

Funds may be used to study tournament fishing methods and ways to improve how they are operated and how fish are handled. Furthermore, permit monies going into bass habitat work may also benefit flowing water bass populations.

-- Musky Permit: The PFBC will use the Voluntary Musky Permit funds to expand muskellunge fishing opportunities. Some funds will be used to purchase additional hatchery equipment, allowing the Commission to raise more musky fingerlings and update rearing tanks.

Like the Pennsylvania's Best Fishing Waters for bass, PFBC may also establish enhanced and designated Musky Waters for anglers.

[Click Here to purchase or learn more about Voluntary Permits.

[Visit the Fish and Boat Commission website for more information.  Click Here to learn more about subscribing to the Angler & Boater Magazine.]

(Photo: From Lake Marburg Fish Habitat Management Plan.)

[Posted: October 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

DEP Invites Comments On Section 401 Water Quality Certification Nationwide Permit Renewal Conditions

The Department of Environmental Protection published
notice in the October 31 PA Bulletin of the proposed conditional State Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act for 58 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits for comment.  

DEP has determined activities under the nationwide permits must meet these conditions before they can receive Section 401 State Water Quality Certification--

-- Prior to beginning any activity authorized by the Corps under a NWP, the applicant shall obtain from the Department all necessary environmental permits or approvals, and submit to the Department environmental assessments and other information necessary to obtain the permits and approvals, as required under State law.

-- Fill material may not contain any waste as defined in the Solid Waste Management Act.

-- Applicants and projects eligible for these NWPs must obtain all State permits or approvals, or both, necessary to ensure that the project meets the state's applicable water quality standards, including a project specific State Water Quality Certification.

This proposed SWQC would only be available for projects that do not require any Federal authorization other than authorization from the Corps under section 404 of the act or section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. 

A list of the 58 nationwide permits covered by this proposal is available in the PA Bulletin notice.

Applicants seeking authorization for activities not eligible for coverage under the NWPs, or for activities that require another Federal authorization (such as an interstate natural gas pipeline, a gas storage field or a nuclear or hydroelectric project requiring authorization by another Federal agency), must submit a request to the Department for a project-specific State Water Quality Certification.

Comments to DEP will be accepted through the eComment webpage [when posted].  Comments are due to DEP by November 30.  

Comments are due to the Corps of Engineers by November 14.

Read the entire PA Bulletin notice for more information.

[Posted: October 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Saturday PA Environment & Energy NewsClips 10.31.20

returns to voting session Nov. 10 or at the Call Of President Pro Tempore
House returns to voting session Nov. 10 or at the Call Of The House Speaker

Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, PA Forestry Assn. Recognize 3 Women With Mira Lloyd Dock Awards [PaEN]

CBF: Federal Chesapeake Bay, Wetland Conservation, National Fish Habitat Partnership Bill Signed Into Law [PaEN]

DEP Posts Final, Amended NPDES General Permit For Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations [PaEN]

Andrew Maykuth: DEP Officials: Trusting Sunoco On Mariner East Pipeline ‘Has Come Back To Bite Us’ Again And Again

Is U.S. Steel’s $1.5 Billion Investment In Mon Valley Works, Clairton Coke Works In Question?

Allegheny Front: How The Environment Is Playing In Swing States

WHYY: PA Farmers Who See Effects Of Climate Change Up Close Have List Of Things They’d Like To See From Govt. Leaders

Sean Sauro: Talen Energy Plans Solar Power Arrays On Coal Ash Basins In Lancaster County

Franklin & Marshall College Arts Center Recognized For Geothermal Energy, Other Design Features

Reid Frazier: Groups Sue EPA Over Flares At Industrial Facilities

Op-Ed: Hiked DEP Permit Fees Latest Shale Gas Industry Hurdle

Editorial: Hydrogen, A Tool To Decarbonize

Editorial: Lay Groundwork For Electric Vehicles

PA One Call Damage Prevention Committee Imposes $120,000 In Penalties For Violations [PaEN]

PUC Joins DHS To Kick Off Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Season

Nov. 9 DEP Virtual Meeting/Hearing On Biosolids Amendment To Surface Mining Permit In Fulton, Huntingdon Counties [PaEN]

DEP Invites Comments On Section 401 Water Quality Certification Nationwide Permit Renewal Conditions [PaEN]

DEP Posts 63 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Oct. 31 PA Bulletin [PaEN]

PA Farm Show Outdoor Fall Food Fest Nov. 13-15

PA Parks & Forests Foundation Accepting Nominations For COVID-19 Outdoor Recreation Champions [PaEN]

Joint Conservation Newsletter Highlights State Park, Forest Friends Groups [PaEN]

WalkWorks Program Awards 10 Community Grants To Increase Physical Activity Options for Communities [PaEN]

Crawford County Accepts $1.5 Million Grant For Erie To Pittsburgh Trail System

Oct. 30 Take Five Friday With Pam, PA Parks & Forests Foundation [PaEN]

Bucks Officials Ask Public For Help In Identifying Vehicles Near Site Of Homicide In Nockamixon State Park

Game Commission: Deer On The Move, Motorists Urged To Use Caution [PaEN]

Fish & Boat Commission: Mandatory Life Jacket Requirement Begins Nov. 1

Help Wanted: Berks Conservation District Agriculture Resource Conservationist [PaEN]

Click Here For This Week’s PA Coronavirus NewsClips

Saturday PA Capitol & Coronavirus NewsClips 10.31.20 -- Click Here

Dept. Of Health Reports 28 Additional Deaths Due To COVID; 2,510 New Cases -- 10.31.20


FirstEnergy Fires CEO, 2 Other Executives, Amid Federal Investigations Over Ohio Nuclear/Coal Bailout Bill

UtilityDive: FirstEnergy Fires CEO, 2 Other Top Executives In Wake Of $61M Ohio Bribery Scandal, 2 Lobbyists Plead Guilty

Bloomberg: Exxon Warns Of $30 Billion Shale Gas Writedown

Study: 1 To 2 Million Tons Of U.S. Plastic Trash Going In Rivers, Lakes, Oceans Or On Land

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FairDistrictsPA: Fix Our Broken Redistricting Process 

[Posted: October 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

Friday, October 30, 2020

PA One Call Damage Prevention Committee Imposes $120,000 In Penalties For Violations

On October 30, the Public Utility Commission announced
44 disciplinary actions, including $120,000 in administrative penalties, have been taken against 55 underground facility owners, excavators and project owners in the latest enforcement actions by the Damage Prevention Committee.  

These actions were taken during the DPC’s October 2020 meeting.

The DPC is tasked with enforcing the state’s Underground Utility Line Protection Act – also known as the “PA One Call Law.” 

A comprehensive list of summaries and actions from DPC meetings is available on the PUC’s website. Penalties are payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Commission will offset the costs of administering this program through the penalties collected.

Digging Safety – PA One Call

While underground lines are often “out of sight and out of mind,” every hit poses a risk to the contractors and homeowners who are doing the digging; to utility workers and emergency responders who are mobilized when lines are struck; and to bystanders who live, work or travel near the locations of the incidents. 

State law requires contractors and residents to contact PA One Call at least three business days prior to excavation – triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located. 

Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.

When the PUC first took on the role of enforcing the state’s One Call Law, underground lines across the state were struck more than 6,000 times per year – but the situation continues to steadily improve, thanks to education, public awareness and enforcement.

For more information, visit the PUC’s PA One Call webpage.

(Photo: What happens when a backhoe hits an unmarked natural gas gathering line.)

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[Posted: October 30, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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