The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds

News

Call for Action

April 16 2012

Dear Partner in Conservation and Preservation,

We need your help today. Governor Corbett’s has proposed to eliminate all conservation, park and recreation funding from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund in his next state budget.

Not only that, the Governor proposes that the termination of funding be made permanent. This means a loss of $30M for conservation in 2012-13, and far more in the long run–the biggest cut to conservation funding ever proposed in Pennsylvania.

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds urges our friends and colleagues to speak up in opposition to these drastic cuts.  Sign the online petition to oppose these harmful cuts at www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/2012budget.

It gets worse. The budget proposal would also divert the state’s cigarette sales tax from its historical purpose of funding farmland preservation to funding the general fund, a permanent diversion that will eventually kill this enormously successful program.

The budget proposal further continues the practice of using the Environmental Stewardship Fund to pay the Growing Greener II bond debt service, leaving just $23 million available for Growing Greener conservation programs and projects next year–the lowest level of funding in recent decades.

We don’t have to sit by and watch elected officials siphon money from our conservation programs.  Sign the online petition to oppose these harmful cuts at www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/2012budget.

Together we can remind the Governor that Pennsylvanians put a high priority on our precious land and water resources.  Thank you for making your voice heard!

John Dawes

Executive Director

Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds

Earth Day Focus

April 03 2012

The DEP announced this year it has developed an Earth Day page. The page highlights Earth Day activities across the Commonwealth, and provides insights into this year’s celebrations. Check it out by clicking here!

Earth Day Event Scheduled

March 27 2012

Bedford County Outdoor Education announced its venue and itinerary for this year’s Earth Day event. To learn more click here.

AmeriCorps Week

March 13 2012

FPW is pleased to support watershed groups’ AmeriCorps’ needs. Members provide invaluable service, expertise, and leadership. Congratulations to all past members, and thank you for all the help you provide our grantees.

To learn more about AmeriCorps’ Week click here.

To see a brief photo essay created by the Pennsylvania Mountains Service Corps click here.

CBF Photo Contest Announced

March 13 2012

As provided by CBF:

For Immediate Release

March 12, 2012

For Information Contact

Kelly Donaldson, 717/234-5550

CBF PHOTO CONTEST UNDERWAY

Pennsylvania Photographers: Let Water Be Your Inspiration!

(HARRISBURG) – The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) announces its eighth annual watershed photo contest. Photo submissions are being accepted through April 13. Photographers of all skill levels, ages 13 and up are encouraged to participate to win the top cash prize of $500.00, and have their photo featured in CBF’s award-winning publications.

The contest promotes awareness of conservation issues relating to the Chesapeake Bay and local rivers and streams. CBF is seeking images from around the watershed that illustrate the beauty, benefits, and bounty of the Bay and its rivers and streams. Photos can illustrate a wide variety of topics, but all MUST include water in the photo.

“The photos submitted to our contest have been stunning and show how connected people are to this wonderful resource,” said Jennifer Wallace, Managing Editor and contest organizer.

All winners will receive a cash award ranging from the top prize of $500.00 to $100.00. The first prize winner also receives a premium spot in the CBF 2013 calendar. All winners will also receive a one-year membership to CBF and will have their photos displayed on CBF’s website, in a CBF e-newsletter, in CBF’s 2013 calendar, and in CBF’s award-winning magazine, Save the Bay.

This year, concepts and topics for photographers to consider include: Beauty, Recreation, History and Legacy, and Agriculture.

Judging will be conducted by a panel of CBF employees on the basis of subject matter, composition, focus, lighting, uniqueness, and impact. The public will also be able to vote online for their favorite photo in the Viewers’ Choice Gallery.

Last year the judges had their work cut out for them with more than 600 entries. Participation in the Viewers’ Choice Award was outstanding, too, with more than 6,000 votes cast.

Contest rules and details are available online at cbf.org/photocontest.

Stream Team Announces Clean-up

March 13 2012

As provided by Melissa Reckner:

The Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association and Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team’s third annual litter clean-up will be held Saturday, March 31, which is two weeks before the opening day of trout, from 8:30 AM – 11:30 AM.  The Watershed Association just adopted a two-mile stretch of State Route 160 between Elton and Windber through PennDOT’s Adopt-a-Highway program, so volunteers will remove trash from this section as well as Berwick Road, which is between Routes 56 and 160 in Richland Township, and Little Paint Creek.  Volunteers are asked to meet at the parking area along SR 160 where Little Paint Creek passes under 160.  Volunteers need to wear long pants, sturdy boots or shoes, and dress appropriately for the weather.  Safety vests, gloves, trash bags, and light refreshments will be provided.  Volunteers are asked to RSVP by March 28 by calling 814-444-2669.  This project is in cooperation with the Great American Cleanup of PA.

Clean-up Date Set

March 02 2012

What are you doing on March 17, 2012? Do you live in Huntingdon or surrounding counties, and want to make a difference. Here is your chance. Keep Huntingdon County Beautiful has announce a spring, roadside clean-up scheduled for that date. To learn more click here.

PA May Get More Oversight?

March 02 2012

This week the EPA announced that if Pennsylvania’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) doesn’t better address how the Keystone state will measure nutrient reductions, that they may provide enhanced programmatic oversight. That being said, the ramifications could mean that the EPA would have more say over how Pennsylvania manages its water resources, and how it issues permits. The PA DEP has until March 30, 2012 to allay the EPA’s fears, and avert federal oversight. To learn more click here.

Representative Vitali Bulks

February 29 2012

Representative Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) bulked at the governor’s plan to ‘shuffle fund’, and deplete the Keystone Fund.

Text of Feb. 28 press release.

HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – Gov. Tom Corbett wants to use nearly $60 million dedicated for two popular environmental programs, the Growing Greener and the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation funds, to fill holes in the state’s 2012-13 budget.

Details about the transfers emerged during two House Appropriations Committee budget hearings held Tuesday.

During testimony by Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan, committee members discussed the governor’s proposal to take $38.58 million from the Keystone Fund and use it to help balance the budget. The fund provides money for state park and forest infrastructure improvements, as well as local recreation facilities, historic sites, zoos and public libraries.

DCNR, which oversees state parks and forests, has a $1 billion backlog of infrastructure projects, according to Allan.

“With this infrastructure backlog, we should not be diverting money from the Keystone Fund,” said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

During testimony by Agriculture Secretary George Greig, the committee discussed the governor’s proposal to take $20.48 million generated by a tax on cigarettes that is normally used to fund the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund for the General Fund budget. The governor proposed shifting $20.48 from the Growing Greener Bond Fund to the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund.

“This is nothing but a shell game,” Vitali said. “It’s a way to use Growing Greener bond money for the General Fund. Using bond money for operating expenses is bad public policy.”

The Growing Greener Bond Fund was created by Act 45 of 2005 and approved by a voter referendum. As a result, the state sold $625 million in bonds and has used the money for projects that preserve natural areas and open spaces, clean rivers and streams, and address abandoned mines.

Budget hearings will continue until March 8. Sometime after, budget negotiations will begin between legislative leaders and the governor. A budget is due by June 30.

Secretary Allen Provides Testimony

February 29 2012

En-light of proposed cuts to DCNR’s funding streams Secretary Allen provided the following remarks to the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee:

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan told the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday the transfer of $38 million from the Keystone, Parks and Conservation Fund to the General Fund is not just a one-time transfer, but is proposed to be permanent.
Here are some key questions asked during the hearing–

More Drilling Leases: Secretary Allan said there is a moratorium in place on further State Forest leasing for drilling.  There are no plans to lease additional State Forest Land, but he said if they would, they would follow the recommendations of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Commission to only do leases where they leave little or no surface impact.
DCNR anticipates receiving a little over $56 million (not $65 million from the Senate hearing) in FY 2012-13 in royalties and rents from drilling, Secretary Allan said.

He said another 50 to 100 or so new Marcellus wells should be coming into production on State Forest land during the coming year, however, there may be some decrease in drilling revenues in the next year or so with lower natural gas prices.
Of the 812 well permits have been approved by DCNR on State Forest land, 778 Marcellus Shale wells have been permitted by DEP, 442 wells have been drilled and there are now 152 producing wells.

In response to a question, Secretary Allan said the agency professionals are constantly monitoring drilling companies to make sure they comply with their leases and agency best management practices, including encouraging the use of existing access roads and right-of-ways.  He said so far, the drillers have been good stewards and have minimized their impacts on State Forest lands.

Keystone Fund: The proposed transfer of $38 million of revenues earmarked for DCNR from the Keystone, Parks and Conservation Fund to the General Fund generated many questions.  Secretary Allan said the transfer is proposed to be permanent, not a one-time transfer.

He said he advised the Governor’s Office the reduction in funding will require the agency to put off some maintenance projects and reduce the funding going for grants.

He said the transfer will require the agency to look to other sources of monies to support their operations, like the Oil and Gas Fund, the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund and the new drilling fee revenue.
Secretary Allan said he believes in the future there will be more revenue in the Oil and Gas Fund and from the new drilling fee to replace at least some of the Keystone Fund monies.  He estimated DCNR could see up to $1.8 million from the new impact fee, 1 percent of the revenue from the drilling fee.

Maintenance Wishlist: Secretary Allan said a “wishlist” of State Parks and State Forest maintenance and improvement projects totaling about $1 billion.  He said they prioritize projects based on health and safety issues and projects which preserve the recreational value of State Parks and State Forests.

State Parks:  In spite of budget constraints, Secretary Allan said, DCNR anticipates being able to keep all State Parks open and available for residents, but acknowledged there may be some changes in some services offered, such as the hours in some parks.
Secretary Allan repeated the results of an updated economic study showing for every dollar invested, State Parks bring in $12 for a total of $1.1 billion of economic activity annually and they support over 13,000 jobs in and around the parks.

Drilling In State Parks: DCNR has a policy that there will be no drilling in State Parks where the state owns the mineral rights, Secretary Allan said.  Unfortunately, he said, the state owns mineral rights on only 20 percent of the land in State Parks and on 80 percent in State Forests.  He said DCNR will look to enforce their guidelines and best management practices on drillers on State Park land and other areas where they don’t own mineral rights to make sure any surface impacts are minimized.

Heritage Parks: In response to a question about again zeroing out of the Heritage Parks Program, Secretary Allan said they are still eligible to apply for grants under the agency’s Community Conservation Partnership Grants.

Privatizing More State Park Services: Asked about leasing State Park land for the development of private recreational facilities, including hotels, golf courses and lakes, Secretary Allan noted DCNR has developed the The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park which gives visitors a higher end visitor overnight accommodations.

Flood Damage: DCNR had about $6 million in damage from flooding last fall.  Secretary Allan said they submitted those damages to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for potential reimbursement.  He complemented DCNR staff for providing help to their local communities and pre and post-flooding aerial photography for helping to assess flood damage.

Friends Groups: Secretary Allan noted many State Parks and State Forests have “Friends” groups that can accept monitory and in-kind donations to help do maintenance and other improvements to DCNR’s facilities, within certain rules.

Lifeguards: In response to questions about not having lifeguards at State Parks, Secretary Allan said DCNR will continue the open swim policy at State Parks.  He said visitors said they appreciate the longer swimming hours the program offers.

A copy of Secretary Allan’s written opening statement is available online (same as Senate).

http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/ucmprd1/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_009685.pdf

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