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Thompson Testifies on Progress and Challenges in Cleaning Up Chesapeake Bay

cbprogramPennsylvania’s conservation districts voiced their concerns about the Chesapeake Bay “reboot strategy” during the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) to the Chesapeake Executive Council. The CAC held their quarterly meeting on September 8, 2016 in Lancaster, PA. Lancaster County Conservation District Manager Christopher Thompson addressed the Committee on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts. Thompson briefed attendees on the issues conservation districts are now facing as a result of the reboot strategy. Conservation districts have had meetings with the DEP in regards to the farm inspections conservation districts have been asked to conduct. This has been a step forward since many concerns the conservation districts have were addressed by DEP. “Although many of the conservation districts’ concerns have already been adequately addressed by DEP, there are still two outstanding issues – the discrepancies between the Statement of Policy, the inspection form, and the contract, and privacy concerns when a district employee obtains information generated by federal entities,” said Thompson. Click here to read the full testimony and here to read the press release.

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Multi-District Adventure in Southwest PA

Submitted by Allegheny County Conservation District
Staff from Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Conservation Districts came together for an outdoor adventure. Photo taken by Kelly McLaughlin and used with permission from Allegheny County Conservation District.

Staff from Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Conservation Districts came together for an outdoor adventure. Photo taken by Kelly McLaughlin and used with permission from Allegheny County Conservation District.

Staff from Allegheny Conservation District organized a team building challenge at Go Ape Treetop Adventure in North Park. Eighteen staff from Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Conservation Districts participated in the event. Go Ape is an exhilarating journey through the forest canopy on suspended obstacles including aerial crossings, Tarzan swings, and 5 zip lines. Team members provided support and encouragement to each other as they completed each obstacle while getting to know some of their neighboring conservation district counterparts a little better. The course took just over two hours to complete and was certainly a unique and challenging experience for all. It offered an incredible, extraordinary, view of North Park and certainly tested our strength and nerves, especially those of us who are uncomfortable with heights! Thanks to all who participated and made it a great outing!

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Indiana County Conservation District Hosts CREP Workshops and Field Day

Photo provided by Indiana County Conservation District.

Photo provided by Indiana County Conservation District.

This summer the Indiana County Conservation District (District) was awarded a CREP mini-grant to work with and educate landowners about stream buffer planting and weed maintenance on local CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) land. The ultimate goal is to prevent pollution and improve water quality in our local streams, lakes, and rivers. The District used these grant funds to participate in multiple events as public educational opportunities, in addition to holding two workshops and one field day. These events focused on explaining the financial and environmental benefits of the CREP program. Through this grant, the District reached over 500 landowners with educational materials and hosted nearly 40 attendees at workshop and field day events. Attendees were educated on the identification and maintenance of noxious and invasive weed species, as well as the benefits of stream buffers and how to successfully plant them.
DEP left-rgb Financial and other support for the CREP Outreach Program Office Mini-grant Program is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a Growing Greener Watershed Protection grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and with additional support from USDA-NRCS.
   

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Beaver County Conservation District Holds Soil Health and Cover Crop Event

District Conservationist Andy Gaver digs into a hay field and discusses what healthy soil should look and feel like. Photo submitted by Beaver County Conservation District.

District Conservationist Andy Gaver digs into a hay field and discusses what healthy soil should look and feel like. Photo submitted by Beaver County Conservation District.

Fourteen farmers spent the evening learning about soil health and cover crops at Fischer’s Windy Ridge Dairy in Fombell, Beaver County, on August 12, 2016. The event was hosted by Andy Gaver, District Conservationist at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Jeff Leindecker, Agriculture Conservationist at Beaver County Conservation District. After a soil health demonstration, attendees were taken to a perennial hay field to see what healthy soil looks like. Several holes were dug and plant/root clumps were passed around for observation. “Healthy soil aggregates should resemble cottage cheese,” commented Andy Gaver. Once attendees had a good feel for healthy soil, the group moved to a 5 acre long-season multi-species cover crop. The field had a history of heavy tillage and the surface soil structure was completely degraded. After two months in cover, improved soil aggregate stability was observed and rainfall infiltration saw an inch of simulated rainfall infiltrate in less than two minutes. Before planting the cover crop, it took more than ten minutes for an inch of simulated rainfall to infiltrate. Financial and other support for this field day provided by: Fischer’s Windy Ridge Dairy, Deerfield Farms Service, Inc., Progressive Dairy Systems, King’s AgriSeeds, Beaver County Conservation District, and USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service.  

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Snyder County Conservation District Holds CREP & Stream Buffer Field Day

Frank Rohrer, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Restoration Specialist (third from right, white shirt, wearing blue hat), points toward a grassed riparian buffer along Susquehecka Creek for the tour group. Photo provided by Snyder County Conservation District.

Frank Rohrer, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Restoration Specialist (third from right, white shirt, wearing blue hat), points toward a grassed riparian buffer along Susquehecka Creek for the tour group. Photo provided by Snyder County Conservation District.

The Snyder County Conservation District held a Stream Buffer and CREP Field Day event on July 28, 2016, in which thirty-five visiting and host farmers, landowners, a legislative aide, state government officials participated. The event included a tour of three farm sites. Representatives from Pheasants Forever, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, PA DCNR-Bureau of Forestry, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, and USDA-Farm Service Agency, relayed information about buffers, weeds, grass plantings, and CREP procedures. Click here to read more about the event.
DEP left-rgb Financial and other support for the CREP Outreach Program Office Mini-grant Program is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a Growing Greener Watershed Protection grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and with additional support from USDA-NRCS.
 

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Conservation Districts Reach Thousands through CREP Mini-grant Program

PACREP_FullColorCROPPEDThe 2015-16 round of Pennsylvania Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) mini-grants for conservation districts recently concluded. Thanks to the conservation districts and their partners, the program was a success! Some of the outcomes include:
  • 20 projects were conducted
  • 2,458 farmers and landowners were reached
  • 11 field days/walkabouts were held
  • 23 workshops were held
  • 149 one-on-one visits were held
  • 109 participants indicated they plan to enroll in CREP in the future
  • 137 participants indicated they plan to re-enroll in CREP when their contract expires
Applications for the 2016-17 round of mini-grants were due August 19. Notifications of the projects funded in the new round will be made by August 31. Questions about the mini-grant program should be directed to swehinger@pacd.org.

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Westmoreland Conservation District Hosts CREP Tours

Tour participants learn about the native plants grown at the Friendship Farms nursery.  Photo provided by Westmoreland Conservation District.

Tour participants learn about the native plants grown at the Friendship Farms nursery. Photo provided by Westmoreland Conservation District.

The Westmoreland Conservation District hosted the first of two tours highlighting the benefits of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).  Participants visited Friendship Farms to see how they have protected streams on their property using riparian buffers, fencing, and stream crossings. To read more about the tour and CREP, click here.
DEP left-rgb Financial and other support for the CREP Outreach Program Office Mini-grant Program is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a Growing Greener Watershed Protection grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and with additional support from USDA-NRCS.

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Jefferson County Conservation District Holds Grazing Field Day

Tim Elder, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Northwest Pennsylvania Grazing Specialist, performs a soil health demonstration during the field day. Photo provided by the Jefferson County Conservation District.

Tim Elder, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Northwest Pennsylvania Grazing Specialist, performs a soil health demonstration during the field day. Photo provided by the Jefferson County Conservation District.

The Jefferson County Conservation District held a grazing field day on July 8 in Mayport, PA. The event was held at Annabelle Grazing Farm and educated over 40 farmers and 5 agency personnel. Topics included grazing management practices that improve soil health and preventing nutrient and soil runoff into waterways. The field day highlighted the farm’s rotational grazing system, demonstrated the environmental benefits of well-managed pastures, and explained the operator’s experimental use of biochar as a potential soil amendment.
epa_logo (2) Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. 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.

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Registration is Open for Chapter 102 NPDES & PCSM Training for the Regulated Community

Register On-Line Now buttonPACD is assisting the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Southcentral Regional Office to present a Chapter 102 NPDES & PCSM Training for the Regulated Community. This training will be held Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the Red Lion Inn Hotel Harrisburg Hershey, 4751 Lindle Rd., Harrisburg, PA. Cost is $150/person. Click here to register. The draft agenda is available here. There will be a training in Altoona on November 16 for those who are closer to that end of the region.

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Beaver County Conservation District Hosts Senior Environment Corps

Beaver County Senior Environment Corps volunteers learn how to use a colorimeter at a training on July 21, 2016. Photo provided by Beaver County Conservation District.

Beaver County Senior Environment Corps volunteers learn how to use a colorimeter at a training on July 21, 2016. Photo provided by Beaver County Conservation District.

The first group of the new Beaver County Senior Environment Corps (SEC) has been trained. Training took place on July 21st at the Beaver County Conservation District. Volunteers, aged 55 years or older, learned why water quality monitoring is needed and how to use water quality monitoring equipment. Commenting on the SEC program, Jeff Leindecker, Beaver County’s Agricultural Conservation Technician and Nutrient Management Specialist, said, “I feel the Beaver County SEC helps the district achieve its mission of preserving natural resources, conserving soil, and improving resource management for all of Beaver County. The goal is to use the data gathered by the SEC to focus where we need to focus our efforts. I commend the eleven volunteers who attended the training and look forward to working with them!” The Beaver County Conservation District, the local host for the new group, is working together with Nature Abounds, a national environmental non-profit and organizer of the SEC. Volunteers with the SEC can participate in a variety of tasks from monitoring water quality, observing and reporting on wildlife, reaching out to others about how they can help the environment, and even aiding with office tasks. Because of the incredible interest in the SEC program, a second training for interested senior residents of Beaver County will be held in August, and a training will also be held in Allegheny County in September. For more information, contact Melinda Hughes of Nature Abounds at either 814-765-1453 x203 or at SEC@Natureabounds.org.

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