Pennsylvania is frequently criticized as the state of the Bay’s watershed lags behind in water remediation efforts and funding to minimize pollution runoff upstream.
The federal government is making progress to correct this, with millions of dollars in new funding being provided to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Recently, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Chesapeake Bay Program announced that 10 Pennsylvania projects will receive grants totaling $ 2.5 million. . $ 8.5 million in grants were already awarded under this partnership earlier this year.
This year’s grants are the first to come from Pennsylvania’s Most Effective Basin Grants Program (PA-MEB). The money is intended for field projects that will enhance native wildlife habitat and improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s own waterways as well as the Chesapeake Bay downstream. The NFWF says the grants will improve water quality practices on more than 45,000 acres and restore more than 45 miles of stream / forest habitat.
“The real benefit is that we are putting very localized practices on the ground. In Lancaster, we put the Disability List on local broadcasts, ”says Jake Reilly, NFWF Chesapeake Bay Program Director. He points out that in addition to cleaning up waterways for the health of surrounding residents, these efforts also provide significant economic benefit to local producers.
For its part, the Lancaster County Conservation District says there has been a lot of awareness raising efforts among farmers and landowners in recent years. Says District Manager Chris Thompson, “We have volunteer recipients, people ready to work. We just needed the money.
The money will spread not only to Lancaster County, but to much of the Pennsylvania Bay watershed. For example, $ 50,000 will be used for an assessment of the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek watershed in the western corner of the Bay Area to improve habitat for eastern brook trout. And a nearly $ 1 million grant for sustainable agriculture will help dairy farms in the Southeast be 100% grass-fed, which restores healthy soils and improves water quality. In the Middle Creek watershed in central Pennsylvania, farmers will receive incentive payments to increase the number of acres of cover crops they plant.
EPA Mid-Atlantic’s new regional administrator, Adam Ortiz, puts it bluntly, “Pennsylvania has been our priority and will continue to be our priority. He says agricultural runoff is the main focus of this subsidy program, and they picked the 10 projects they thought would make the biggest difference.
“Someone’s swimming or fishing hole today is someone’s bay tomorrow,” he says.
–Meg Walburn Viviano