Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David E. Hess has announced more than $4.3 million to fund watershed restoration projects, including farmland conservation projects, under the Growing Greener Program.
"Growing Greener represents the next generation of environmental protection programs, supporting community- and watershed-based projects that build partnerships to accomplish their goals," Hess said. "So far this year, more than $33.7 million has been awarded to support watershed restoration projects, which was matched by another $66.7 million from local partners."
A $900,000 Growing Greener grant is being awarded to the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) to support the installation of conservation practices on farms through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
"The PACD is pleased to be able to provide Growing Greener funds on behalf of DEP to farmers participating in the CREP program," said Susan Fox, executive director of the PACD. "This grant will assist farmers to implement conservation best-management practices on their farms that will improve water quality and promote wildlife habitat."
CREP is a federal program where the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) partners with states to reduce sediment or nutrient runoff from agricultural land. The USDA provides 50 percent of the funds necessary to install conservation measures such as filter strips, permanent vegetative cover or riparian buffers.
"With help from Growing Greener, Pennsylvania farmers are able to do much more to protect our watersheds from the effects of excessive nutrient and sediment loading due to agricultural runoff," Hess said. "These funds will help Pennsylvania farmers in 20 counties within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to protect the bay."
This year the Growing Greener Program has provided a total of $2.2 million to support the CREP Program.
Growing Greener also will provide more than $2.3 million to fund projects to reclaim more than 615 acres of abandoned mine lands and plug 374 abandoned oil and gas wells. The work will be done through contracts bid and managed DEP's bureaus of Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Oil and Gas Management.
"Growing Greener is helping Pennsylvania clean up mine-scarred lands faster and more efficiently than ever before," Hess said. "Eliminating these hazards not only takes care of environmental problems but also becomes a source of pride in communities that will no longer have to accept acid mine drainage as something they have to live with."
DEP also is funding these additional projects through the Growing Greener Program:
-- Academy of Natural Sciences: $149,984 for a comprehensive statewide assessment of stream restoration projects;
-- Adams County Conservation District: $25,000 for reduction of nutrient runoff reduction on Beaver Run Farms.
-- Allegheny County Conservation District: $5,000 for the organization of the Deer Creek Watershed Association.
-- Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts: $900,000 to support the Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
-- Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation Development Council: $200,000 to provide program management and scientific assessment and monitoring technical assistance.
-- Villanova University: $40,000 for a stormwater porous concrete demonstration site.
Funding for the Growing Greener program was doubled and extended through 2012 in the state budget signed into law by Gov. Mark Schweiker. DEP's portion of Growing Greener funding was increased to $547.7 million from $241.5 million in the original program. It is now funded primarily through a $4-per-ton tipping fee on solid waste disposed in Pennsylvania's municipal waste landfills. For more information on the Growing Greener program, visit the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us, PA Keyword: "Growing Greener."
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection