Archive for the ‘Legislative’ Category
PACD Addresses Joint Conservation Commission Legislative Committee Meeting; Speaks to Demands Districts Face and Importance of Sustained Funding
On Monday, March 18, PACD Executive Director Robert Maiden addressed the Joint Conservation Commission Legislative Committee in the Main Capitol in downtown Harrisburg. Maiden spoke to the work of the districts including the Dirt and Gravel Roads Program, Erosion & Sediment activities, permitting and work in the Bay and Marcellus Shale regions. More than 30 legislative aides and staffers were in attendance for the hour-long meeting. Click here to read more.
Earlier today Governor Tom Corbett announced his proposed FY 2013-14 state budget to members of the legislature. Part of his budget includes a 100 percent decrease in line item funding to the state’s 66 conservation districts through the Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
“The conservation districts are extremely grateful for the state funding we have received to date, but we need to maintain our funding across the state, to meet the constantly increasing demands for our services,” noted Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) Executive Director Robert Maiden. “Declines for districts equates to less staff, less education and outreach, and minimal projects being put in to practice.”
Conservation district staffs throughout Pennsylvania work to aid all sectors of the economy but most notably, they work to maintain the state’s number one industry: agriculture.
In 2008, the districts’ state line items funding level was at $5.4 million dollars. After that year, districts experienced a decline of 23 percent in state funding allotments. Last fiscal year, the districts received $4.2 million dollars in state funds through the Departmental line items.
“Agriculture is not only the number one economic driver in Pennsylvania, but it also feeds families, putting food on the table for residents across this commonwealth,” Maiden added. “In order for conservation districts to continue supporting that effort, they need funding. PACD respectfully requests that the legislature reinstate the conservation districts’ line item funding in the FY 2013-14 budget.”
For more information about the state’s conservation districts, visit www.pacd.org/CD.
Impact Fee Funding Aids Districts: Elk Conservation District Now Able to Secure Resource Conservation Technician
In Elk County, District Manager Steve Putt, said “Without the Act 13-Impact Fee money, we could not have fully funded the Resource Conservation Technician position in the district. By adding this new position to the district, we will greatly improve our ability to complete projects and tasks more timely, support more individuals in need of technical assistance and better serve our overall community.”
The district recently began advertising for a Resource Conservation Technician who would assist with Chapter 102 and 105 activities as well as increase the district’s education and outreach efforts in the surrounding communities. Ultimately, the creation of this position will allow the district to develop stronger working relationships with local farmers as they work to reconnect with the agricultural roots of the county.
Currently, the district’s technical staff includes the district manager and a watershed specialist. The addition of the Resource Conservation Technician will provide support to their operation and further their reach throughout Elk County communities.
They also hope to utilize some of the funds to complete some on-going projects such as water monitoring procedures; stream and forest restoration improvements; acid precipitation and mine reclamation efforts; and stream public access routes.
If any other districts have stories they’d like to share regarding how the Impact Fee funding is helping their district’s efforts, please contact Brandi Hunter-Davenport at email@example.com or Shannon Wehinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the Elk Conservation District! A follow up story with the new Resource Conservation Technician will appear in a future edition of Front Page!
In Pennsylvania, there are more than 184,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, with some 4,000 miles of rivers and streams no longer biologically viable due to mine pollution.
This past July, the new federal Surface Transportation Bill was signed into law. When signed, the bill included a provision [to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA)], which would reduce the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Funding to Pennsylvania as well as various other states. Several groups, including the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD), have voiced their concerns with the SMCRA provision [in the new law] and how it will negatively impact abandoned mine reclamation work.
“The funding Pennsylvania receives now isn’t enough to clean up the abandoned mine drainage problem,” said PACD Executive Director Robert Maiden, who was advocating for an amendment to the newly enacted law while attending meetings in Washington D.C. last week. “PACD wants to ensure that each of the Conservation Districts is able to continue to do the work needed to maintain clean water and healthy streams. We just can’t afford to lose any funding.”
PACD will continue to make an M-PACT for the Conservation Districts by advocating for an amendment that reverses the funding cuts to this critical revenue stream.