Monday, April 24, 2017

DEP Begins Helicopter Spraying To Control Black Flies; Only DEP Line-Item Not Cut But Increased By House GOP

The Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced it has begun aerial spraying on more than 1,600 stream miles in 37 Pennsylvania counties to control black flies, also referred to as gnats.
[Note: The line-item for Black Fly spraying in the FY 2017-18 General Fund budget passed by House Republicans was the ONLY line-item not cut in DEP's budget.  In fact, it was INCREASED $100,000.]
The first aerial spraying took place on April 20 on the Juniata River and Susquehanna River and several of their smaller tributaries. Other waterways will be treated as stream flows and weather conditions allow.
“This annual initiative reduces the nuisance of black flies so Pennsylvanians can enjoy our state’s waterways,” Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.
Pennsylvania rivers and streams will be monitored and treated as needed. Spraying activities will be performed both by helicopter and ground crews; their frequency will depend upon weather and biological conditions.
Treatments cannot occur during periods of heavy rain or when water levels are high as high water conditions lower the effectiveness of the treatment.
DEP uses Bti, a naturally occurring bacterium, to treat the larval stage of four specific human pest black fly species. This bacterium degrades quickly in the environment and does not harm the aquatic ecosystem, birds, or other insects.
DEP notifies county and local emergency management officials prior to any spraying activity. Helicopters seen flying over waterways and ground crews using backpack sprayers off bridges are conducting control operations on behalf of DEP’s black fly program.
Anyone concerned at the sight of a helicopter or ground personnel is encouraged to call their county emergency management office to verify that a black fly treatment is taking place in their area on that day.
Click Here for a list of waterways to be sprayed for black flies.
For more information, visit DEP’s Black Fly webpage.

Seneca Resource Assessed $375,000 Penalty For Multiple Violations At Drilling Operations

The Department of Environmental Protection Monday announced Seneca Resource Corporation, part of the National Fuel Gas Company, has agreed to a $375,000 civil penalty for oil and gas violations of the Clean Stream Law, Dam Safety and Encroachment Act, the Oil and Gas Act, and the Solid Waste Management Act.
Beginning in August 2013 through 2015, DEP inspected various areas of construction in Forest, McKean, and Elk Counties and determined that multiple violations of erosion and sedimentation control existed, including:
-- Failure to comply with the conditions of the Erosion Control Permit and maintain best management practices during earth moving activities;
-- Discharge of an estimated 70 to 100 barrels of crude oil which flowed across land then into a tributary of Windfall Run, a High Quality Cold Water Fishery in McKean County;
-- Discharge of an estimated 500 barrels of flowback fluid generated from a valve failure to the ground and surrounding wetlands in Forest County; and
-- Failure to follow the approved water management plan for 105 days in McKean County when Seneca withdrew water during a drought watch.
Seneca has resolved all the violations identified in this civil penalty.
“Sediment is a major cause of stream impairment in Pennsylvania. DEP inspectors are diligent about inspecting construction activities to ensure operators are meeting permit conditions and regulatory requirements,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This penalty is reflective of DEP’s commitment to enforcing those conditions and requirements."

PA First Lady Outlines Waterway Protection Efforts Under Way At Earth Day Gathering

With the expansive waters of a challenged Susquehanna flowing directly behind her, First Lady Frances Wolf Monday told a gathering of students and top environmental leaders protection of the iconic waterway is an ongoing priority at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg.
Two days after Gov. Wolf proclaimed Earth Day 2017 on April 22, the First Lady announced plans are under way on the residence grounds at 2035 North Front Street, Harrisburg, to lessen stormwater runoff by installing and maintaining a rain garden and additional rain-collection barrels, and enhancing existing green features.
“Taken alone, none of these steps is monumental, but collectively they reflect the will and the theme of Gov. Wolf’s Earth Day proclamation -- ‘The Difference YOU Can Make,’” said the First Lady. “We have some of the state’s top environmental leaders gathered here today, but they can accomplish only so much without an individual environmental commitment by all of us.”
Mrs. Wolf publicly commended the 30 students and several teachers from nearby St. Stephen's Episcopal School, noting they have demonstrated environmental awareness by participating in the residence event and dedicating this week to Earth Day 2017-related field trips.
“You have demonstrated your commitment to our state’s wealth of woods and waters at a young age, and I commend you,” the First Lady said. “Feel free to ask questions of the environmental leaders gathered here today about what you see and hear. Hopefully, some of you will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”
Joining the Harrisburg school group and First Lady Wolf were Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn; Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell; Department of General Services Secretary Curt Topper; and Harry Campbell, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Office, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“These enhancements of the residence grounds are directly in line with DCNR’s ongoing efforts to protect our waterways, such as expanding forest buffers along streams and rivers,” said Dunn. “When properly installed and maintained, all are indicative of what individual home and property owners can do to curb runoff into waterways; control erosion; and improve the quality of our wealth of waterways, such as the nearby Susquehanna River.”
"Pollution from stormwater runoff is the next great challenge to our streams and rivers. Reducing it is one of DEP’s highest priorities,” said McDonnell. “As citizens step up to make a difference, DEP is working with municipal leaders to do the same with comprehensive stormwater management plans.”
“During Gov. Wolf’s Administration, the Commonwealth has taken many steps towards jumpstarting the restoration of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams,” said Campbell. “The Governor and First Lady are clearly demonstrating that here at the governor’s residence, on the banks of the Susquehanna River, which is the largest source of freshwater entering the Chesapeake Bay. As every Pennsylvanian has a stake in having clean water, the rain garden, rain barrels and enhanced green features at the governor’s residence set the example that we all can contribute. We commend Governor and Mrs. Wolf for their leadership and commitment to clean water.”
Penn State student Zoe Roane-Hopkins will join DCNR’s Landscape Design Section as an intern this summer to oversee planning, design and maintenance of the residence rain garden.
Residence staff will provide materials, funding for plantings and equipment assistance for preparing and planting.
DCNR plans to conduct an analysis of the site, looking at drainage, soils, solar orientation, and utilities, and determine the best area for a rain garden.  Areas with drainage issues or wash-outs would be likely locations.
Details on the benefits of rain gardens and rain barrels, suggested plantings and other information can be found at the iConservePA website.
Visit DEP’s Chesapeake Bay webpage for more information on  Bay-related initiatives.
For more on Chesapeake Bay-related issues in Pennsylvania, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA webpage.  Click Here to sign up for Pennsylvania updates (bottom of left column).  Click Here for a copy of CBF-PA’s most recent newsletter.
(Photo: Acting DEP Secretary McDonnell, PA First Lady Frances Wolf, DCNR Secretary Dunn, Harry Campbell, CBF-PA.)

Fish & Boat Commission: 2017 Family Fishing Festivals Set For May And June

The Fish and Boat Commission Monday announced it has scheduled several opportunities in May and June for families to learn fishing skills and enjoy fishing.
The PFBC is holding three Family Fishing Festivals in May and three in June. These events lead up to the two statewide Fish-for-Free Days – the Sunday before Memorial Day, May 28, and Independence Day, July 4.
“Family Fishing Festivals are a convenient way to introduce friends and family to the sport of fishing at no cost,” said Carl Richardson, PFBC Education Section Manager. “These are educational events designed for families with little or no fishing experience. Participants will learn basic fishing skills and have an opportunity to practice those skills while fishing during the program.”
PFBC Family Fishing Festivals will be held at these locations:
-- May 6: Gi­fford Pinchot State Park - Conewago Day Use Area, York County, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (for more information or to register)
-- May 13: Tohickon Access, Nockamixon State Park, Bucks County, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (for more information or to register)
-- May 20: North Park County Park, Allegheny County, 2 - 6 p.m. (for more information or to register)
-- June 3: M. K. Goddard State Park – Launch #3, Mercer County, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (for more information or to register)
-- June 11: Bald Eagle State Park - Pavilion #6 & #7, Centre County, 3 - 7 p.m. (for more information or to register)
-- June 25: Frances Slocum State Park – Environmental Education Center, Luzerne County, 1 - 5 p.m. (for more information or to register)
The PFBC is waiving the fishing license requirement during the program for registered Family Fishing Festival participants 16 and older. The program is open to all ages, including children ages 5 and older. The PFBC provides equipment, bait, and tackle. PFBC staff will be present to teach skills and assist those who fish.
Preregistration is required. Space is limited, and there will be no registrations accepted the day of the events.
In addition, PFBC partners will be hosting programs throughout the summer. Visit to learn more about these programs and to see a complete list of PFBC programs. Participants can also register through this website.

April 24 Watershed Winds Newsletter Now Available From Penn State Extension

The April 24 edition of the Watershed Winds newsletter is now available from Penn State Extension featuring articles on--
-- Click Here to sign up for your own copy.

Sewickley Creek, Firestone And Scouts Join Forces On Earth Day Cleanup

Sewickley Creek Watershed Association in Westmoreland County teamed up again this year with Firestone Building Products and Boy Scout Troop 465 on April 22 to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up litter and trash from four miles of roadway and a mile of stream banks around Youngwood Borough and Hempfield and Unity Townships.  
Sixty bags of trash, several tires, mattresses, desks and demolition debris were collected.  The Association coordinated its efforts with Youngwood Borough residents who cleaned additional streets that morning.  
The Associations would like to thank the Youngwood Borough Public Works Department for hauling away all of the trash collected.
Hats off to Firestone for, once again, sponsoring lunch for all of the volunteers.  Many plant employees also assisted with the cleanup effort.  
“This is one of the ways that we try to give back to the community where we operate and where our employees live,” said Michael McCrea, Plant Manager for Firestone’s Youngwood complex.  “We enjoy having the stream right outside our doors and the green space that surrounds the industrial park.  We want to help make our community a more attractive place to live.”
Scout Leader, Dan Laco, spent some of his morning trying to answer questions from the younger scouts such as…”Why do we have to clean litter along the same roads and stream banks every year?  What kind of people would throw mattresses into the weeds instead of putting them out for curbside garbage pickup?  Why do people throw tires into the stream instead of recycling them?  At least they could leave them along the road for easier pickup.”  
Maybe some of our readers can answer those questions!  
Dan suggested…”It’s probably a fraction of one percent of our society that would even consider throwing litter out the car window.  But when the same people do it day-after-day, it’s enough to create an eyesore along an otherwise beautiful stream and roadway.”  
Troop 465 has been partnering with Sewickley Creek on Earth Day projects since 1996.
Click Here for photos from the Earth Day Cleanup event.
  For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association website. The Associations helps manage the 168 square mile watershed drained by Sewickley Creek in Westmoreland County.  Their primary focus is remediation of abandoned mine discharges.  Other projects include building riparian buffers, trail development and environmental education.  

Dominion, Western PA Conservancy Award 20 Local Watershed Grants

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Dominion Foundation recently awarded $30,000 to 20 environmental organizations in 13 counties across the Commonwealth as part of their 2017 Watershed Mini Grant Program.
Awardees included the following organizations, which received its award at a reception on April 18:
-- Allegheny Aquatic Alliance of Freedom, Beaver County. received $2,000 for its 6th annual cleanup of Connoquenessing Creek, a tributary of the Beaver River. Funds will be used to help with the cost of garbage disposal and outreach items for the event.
-- Aultman Watershed Association of McIntyre, Indiana County. received $2,000 to continue a restoration project on Neal Run. Funds will be used to purchase high-calcium limestone for an auto-flushing, vertical flow pond, which will generate alkalinity and remove metals.
-- Bennett Branch Watershed Association of Benezette, Elk County received $415 to print updated brochures that highlight their restoration success.
-- Bucktail Watershed Association of Emporium, Cameron County. received $1,200 for its efforts to control the spread of invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed, along the stream banks of the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed. The organization will also use funds to send out newsletters to their members.
-- Conemaugh Valley Conservancy of Johnstown, Cambria County received $900 to distribute their Annual Report, as well as their Stream Team Adopt-A-Site and West Penn Trail brochures.
Creek Connections at Allegheny College of Meadville, Pa. received $1,500 for pH test kits to continue measuring water quality in local watersheds.
-- Crooked Creek Watershed Association of Ford City, Armstrong County received $475 for printing and distributing their newsletters.
-- Emigh Run/Lakeside Watershed Association of Osceola Mills, Clearfield County received $1,940 to continue water quality monitoring on Emigh Run and Hubler Run. Funds will pay for sample analysis costs.
-- Evergreen Conservancy of Indiana, Indiana County received $2,600 for water quality monitoring, environmental outreach and a restoration project. Funds will be used to maintain data loggers and associated equipment, produce newsletters and remediate a stream bank on Laurel Run in Yellow Creek State Park.
-- Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited of Laughlintown, Westmoreland County received $950 to continue outreach efforts for the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail.
-- First Fork Watershed Association of Coudersport, Potter County received $800 for outreach materials.
-- French Creek Valley Conservancy of Meadville, Crawford County received $1,400 for educational and promotional display items.
-- Kiskiminetas Watershed Association of Greensburg, Westmoreland County received $2,650 for restoration work on their West Leechburg property. KWA will remove invasive species and old concrete, replant the area and install informative signage.
-- Nine Mile Run Watershed Association of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County received $2,400 for a fish passage and stream bank stabilization project. Funds will be used to purchase the rock and plant materials needed to undergo the stream restoration.
-- North Fork Watershed Association of Brookville, Jefferson County received $1,150 to produce an educational brochure and install educational signage about the watershed throughout the county.
-- Seneca Chapter of Trout Unlimited of Port Allegany, McKean County received $1,400 for data loggers and associated hardware to better monitor water quality.
-- Sewickley Creek Watershed Association of Youngwood, Westmoreland County received $2,400 to purchase water quality monitoring equipment that will be used as part of an education partnership with local students at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and California University.
-- Tubmill Trout Club Unlimited of New Florence, Westmoreland County received $1,500 to purchase hemlock logs for a restoration project.
-- Turtle Creek Watershed Association of Murrysville, Westmoreland County received $1,500 to install educational signage at two watershed access points on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail.
-- Upper Allegheny Watershed Association of Roulette, Potter County received $1,000 for the production of education and outreach materials.
The grant program provides assistance to the region’s watershed groups. This year’s awards cover program expenses in three areas: water quality monitoring, watershed restoration, and organizational promotion and outreach.
Since 2005, WPC and the Dominion Foundation have collaborated to help enhance water quality and watershed initiatives through this grant program, which has awarded $343,475 to more than 115 organizations.
“The Mini Grant Program offers invaluable funding for smaller volunteer-based organizations and helps them to administer and complete a variety of different projects – like tree plantings and water monitoring – that are important to sustaining and enhancing local watersheds,” said Don Houser, Dominion Energy’s state policy advisor.
More information is available on programs, initiatives and special events at the Western PA Conservancy website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, add them to your Circle on Google+, join them on Instagram, visit the Conservancy’s YouTube Channel or add them to your network on Linkedin.
(Photo: Brenda Costa of the French Creek Valley Conservancy accepted the 2017 grant award from Dominion employees, Environmental Supervisor Jen McCloskey and State Policy Advisor Don Houser.)

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