Berks County Conservation District and the Berks County Prison: A Winning Partnership

Finished rain barrel constructed by inmates at the Berks County Prison. Photo courtesy of Berks CD.

Finished rain barrel constructed by inmates at the Berks County Prison. Photo courtesy of Berks CD.

A rain barrel program has become one of the many tools that Pennsylvania’s Conservation Districts have developed to help municipalities manage storm water runoff. Finding appropriate food grade containers to make those barrels, however, can be a challenge. When Berks County Conservation District sought to develop their program, it came to their attention that the local prison had an abundance of these containers that the manufacturer would not accept for return once emptied.

Berks CD has now established a partnership with the Berks County prison. The district provides the money for the hardware and the paint (they offer the barrels in white, blue and green) and the prison inmates then assemble the barrels. When there is an order or a rain barrel workshop planned, the district contacts the prison. The prison’s inmates then paint and construct the rain barrels. The district orders the barrels when needed.

The district anticipates the relationship with the Berks County prison continuing. Watershed coordinator Kate Keppen said, “I’m excited about a new rain barrel ordinance passed by the city of Reading, located in Berks County. The new ordinance seeks to promote and establish guidelines for rain barrel use in the city and prevent or limit the possibility of the rain barrels representing a standing water code violation. In response, our district has been conducting an increased number of rain barrel workshops with the rain barrels constructed by the Berks County Prison. This program is definitely a win for our community and the environment.”

For more information about this innovative partnership, contact Kate Keppen at Kathryn.Keppen@BerksCD.com.

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Senator Yaw Lends Support to Lycoming County Field Day

Senator Gene Yaw Spoke at the Lycoming County Conservation District No-Till / Cover Crop Field Day on July 24. Photo taken by Arnie Kriner and used with permission from Senator Yaw’s office.

Senator Gene Yaw Spoke at the Lycoming County Conservation District No-Till / Cover Crop Field Day on July 24. Photo taken by Arnie Kriner and used with permission from Senator Yaw’s office.

Lycoming County Conservation District held a field day on July 24 at T.A. Seeds near Jersey Shore, PA. Senator Gene Yaw spoke during the event.

“The field day was an opportunity for farmers to learn how they can save money on input costs, improve the quality of their soil, and in turn reduce sediment and nutrient losses to our local watersheds,” said Tim Heyler, Agricultural Conservation Technician.

The agenda included presentations on Making a Successful Transition to No-Till, Cover Cropping for the 21st Century, and No-till Equipment Setup. Also, a tour of the seed processing facility and cover crop demonstration plots were held.

Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. (PACD) through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about PACD, visit www.pacd.org.

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Growing Greener Grant Used To Successfully Restore Lehigh County Creek

lehighThis article appeared in the PA DEP News and PA Environment Digest

Staff from the Lehigh County Conservation District, in partnership with the Fish & Boat Commission, and volunteers from the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy, and Perkiomen Valley Trout Unlimited, worked for three days this week to restore a 415-linear-foot section of the Hosensack Creek in the Perkiomen Creek Watershed in Lower Milford Township.

The volunteers installed fish habitat structures, removed six existing man-made dams, and stabilized a wide section of streambanks to allow a smoother flow of water and aquatic life to move freely throughout the creek. The group also installed a fish habitat section using rocks to form a semi-circle near the edge of the stream so fish can co-habitate and multiply.

The Growing Greener Grant implemented by DEP’s Northeast Regional Waterways and Wetlands program helped fund $18,000 of the $25,000 project.

Restoration efforts such as this will enhance fish, aquatic, and wildlife habitat, while expanding wild trout populations in the watershed. Sediment and non-point source pollutants entering this section of the creek will be reduced, therefore

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YCCD Hosts PACD Staff Members for a Day in the Field

Tracy (back left) and Brandi cross a stream along the sewer pipeline project. Photo courtesy of Eric Jordan.

Tracy (back left) and Brandi cross a stream along the sewer pipeline project. Photo courtesy of Eric Jordan.

On June 26, PACD’s Brandi Hunter-Davenport and Tracy Raymond shadowed York County Conservation District’s (YCCD) Erosion & Sediment Control Technician Eric Jordan for a day of site inspections. Throughout the course of the trek, the trio visited two linear construction projects involving multiple stops. The first was a 3.5 mile long sanitary sewer pipeline located along Kreutz Creek and crossing Mill Creek, a PA Fish & Boat Commission-designated wild trout stream.

The second project was a PennDot road widening and realignment project.  Erosion and sediment control and post-construction stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) observed during the site inspections included compost filter socks, pumped water filter bags, rock construction entrances, sediment traps, and stormwater infiltration basins. The inspections soon revealed that Brandi and Tracy’s boots did not comply with the minimum height required to cross Kreutz Creek (see photo).

Prior to getting their feet wet, Brandi and Tracy were able to spend some time with YCCD Education and Communications Coordinator Kim Young, discussing the 2014 Envirothon activities and the district’s innovative partnership with local artist Millicent Neill Decker.

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