Sunday, September 24, 2017

30th Anniversary Of Militia Hill Hawk Watch Celebrated At Fort Washington State Park

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Saturday joined birding enthusiasts and supporters of Fort Washington State Park in Montgomery County celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Militia Hill Hawk Watch.
"What a milestone for both Fort Washington State Park and the dedicated volunteers who staff the Militia Hill Hawk Watch," the secretary told celebration attendees gathered on the park grounds. "It is hard to believe we are just minutes from Philadelphia and yet hundreds of migrating raptors are heading south overhead. I commend you on your 30th year of documenting these flights and fueling public interest in them."
Since September 1, and through October 31, volunteers have been daily monitoring southern migrations at the Montgomery County park, where visitors utilizing two observation areas can glimpse all 16 species of raptors migrating along the Atlantic Coast.
"Public interest in observing raptors and other migrating bird species from two observation areas never has been stronger at Fort Washington State Park," Dunn noted. "This would never be possible without the dedication of the volunteers before me. You staff the observation decks; keep the all-important numbers; and infect future volunteers with your passion and commitment."  
Militia Hill Hawk Watch prides itself in counting migrating raptors as they move southward on their annual journey as far as Central and South America. Founded in 1988, it operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with dedicated volunteers providing valuable count data to the Hawk Migration Association of North America.
The group delights in introducing visitors to the beauty of the state park and the many birds, other animals and insects that can be seen during their visit.
"I'm so glad we are celebrating 30 seasons of an amazing annual gathering that started with a card table and a few chairs in 1988," said Militia Hill Hawk Watch site coordinator Rich Conroy. "The combination of hawk migration and sharing with people what is going on in the sky above us, and where these birds are headed, always leaves me feeling wonderfully connected to our world beyond Militia Hill."
Militia Hill is one of many count sites throughout Pennsylvania which provide invaluable avian migration information through concerted citizen-science effort.
The Militia Hill Hawk watch has had an impressive tabulation of raptor species and numbers since 1988. The average season count is 11,088 raptors with a total of 321,553 in its past 29 years.
All 16 species that migrate along the East Coast are observed on a regular basis. The hawk watch's most spectacular day occurred on Sept. 15, 2013, when 18,055 broad-winged hawks migrated over Militia Hill.
Organizers welcome and encourage volunteers in the effort. Volunteer compilers will be on duty every day --- for a total of 61 days.
With an elevation of only 330 feet, and no large, nearby body of water, Militia Hill has no strong geographic features of importance to migration, and yet all East Coast raptor species are seen above the park grounds.
Detailed records of raptor observation and weather conditions are reported daily to the Hawk Mountain Migration Association of North America.
(Photo: DCNR Secretary Dunn and PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards.)
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Fish Commission Confirms Virus Killed Carp In Pymatuning State Park Lake

The Fish and Boat Commission Saturday announced laboratory tests have confirmed the Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) is responsible for the deaths of thousands of carp in Crawford County’s Pymatuning Reservoir, located in Pymatuning State Park.
The virus does not affect humans, and should not be considered a risk to human health.
The deaths were first discovered late last month, primarily on the Ohio side of the reservoir.
No sick or dead carp were observed by PFBC staff in the eastern portion of the reservoir commonly referred to as the Pymatuning Sanctuary. The sanctuary is separated from the main waterbody by a narrow dam and small spillway.
Live carp were collected by PFBC staff on September 12 and shipped to the University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center for testing. This marks the first time that the virus has been confirmed in Pennsylvania waters.
The lab confirmed on September 21 that the fish had tested positive for the Koi Herpesvirus. The virus is known to affect only carp and koi, and there is no known way to eliminate it.
The source of the virus is unknown. It could have been carried by infected fish or present in bilge water, or could have been in backyard pond or aquarium fish someone may have released into the lake.
The PFBC urges anglers and boaters to protect the Commonwealth’s waterways by not transporting live fish between waters and by always cleaning their gear.
“We want to remind anglers and boaters that it’s imperative to clean their gear after each fishing or boating trip, particularly if they are moving between waterways,” said Brian Niewinski, Chief of the PFBC’s Fish Production Services. “This is the best way to prevent the spread of viruses and aquatic invasive species.”
PFBC biologists believe the deaths have peaked, but they caution that there is evidence that fish which survive KHV may retain the virus for long periods of time, resulting in fish becoming carriers of the pathogen.
As such, it should be expected that the Pymatuning reservoir will experience similar periodic outbreaks over the next several years.
Visit the Fish and Boat Commission Clean Your Gear webpage to learn how to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Virus Causing Carp Deaths At Pymatuning Reservoir

Sunday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

No Movement Of Any Items On Fall Environmental Legislative Agenda In Last 2 Weeks

Over the last 2 weeks the Senate and House were in voting session one of those weeks each, but neither one took any action on other important environmental bills still unfinished in the General Assembly.  Those issues include--
-- $2/Ton Recycling Fee Extension
-- Storage Tank Cleanup Program Extension
-- PA One Call Natural Gas Pipeline Protection
-- Littering Penalty Increases
-- Lawn Fertilizer Regulation/Education
-- Electronics Waste Recycling Program Reform
And of course, last but not least, the bill to designate the Eastern Hellbender as Pennsylvania’s State Amphibian and a symbol of clean water for the state is still hung up-- Senate Bill 658.
Click Here for a complete rundown.
The House returns to session Monday for a 3-day week and the week of October 2, but then their schedule has them off until October 16.  They have 21 scheduled voting days left this year, after next week.
The Senate is officially on a 6-hour call, but is not scheduled to be back in voting session until October 16.  They have 15 scheduled voting days left this year.

Saturday PA Environmental NewsClips

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Sept. 25 PA Environment Digest Now Available

The September 25 PA Environment Digest is now available.  Here are just a few of the headlines--

Since the Senate and House are likely to be busy trying to reconcile the differences between the budget proposals passed by both chambers, it might be helpful to have in one place what each proposal contains.

Written By Sgt. Zane Craig, Fort Indiantown Gap
The Pennsylvania National Guard’s environmental office sustainability team at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, staffed by both Pennsylvania National Guard members and Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs civilians, won the 2016 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for sustainability.

Walter N. Heine attended his last Citizens Advisory Council meeting at DEP on Tuesday after serving on the Council for 34 years.
Heine played a key role in shaping environmental policy in the regulation of mining operations in Pennsylvania as the Associate Deputy Secretary For Mines and Land Protection in DER from 1971 to 1977.
In 1977 President Jimmy Carter nominated Heine as the first Director of the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement after the passage of the first federal law to comprehensively regulate coal mining operations-- the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act-- that same year.  

Penn State University researchers are inviting stormwater practitioners to participate in a survey on current practices and implementation of green infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed as well as attend an October 27 Chesapeake Stormwater Summit - Overcoming Barriers To Green Infrastructure Solutions in Harrisburg.

Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful invites schools in Pennsylvania to participate in the Litter Free School Zone Program, a comprehensive program that encourages young people to play an active role in protecting and improving our environment through recycling, litter awareness, and community stewardship.

The National Brownfields 2017 Conference is now accepting nominations for its Phoenix Awards to recognize exemplary brownfields redevelopment and revitalization.  The deadline for entries is October 4.

Laurel Hill State Park Hosts Salute To PA Outdoor Corps In State Parks, Forest Lands
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Thursday joined Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Department of Labor & Industry officials and Bureau of State Parks representatives in saluting contributions and successes of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps at Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset County.

Department of Agriculture officials published notice in the September 23 PA Bulletin announcing the Spotted Lanternfly quarantine has been expanded into 26 more municipalities in  Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties. (formal notice)

To read the Digest, visit:  Click Here to view or print the entire Digest.

PA Environment Digest is edited by David E. Hess, former Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and is published as a service of Crisci Associates.

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DEP, Westmoreland County Partners View Progress In Redeveloping Jeannette Glass Brownfield Site

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell Friday toured the former Jeannette Glass site to see first-hand the importance of Pennsylvania’s brownfields program at work.
The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation led the tour of the 13-acre site in the heart of Jeannette with city, county and state officials.
WCIDC staff explained to McDonnell and others the latest progress on building demolition and cleanup to prime one of the largest vacant parcels in Jeannette for future development by the target of July 2018.
“DEP’s Land Recycling Program encourages public sector remediation projects, but we can’t achieve our cleanup goals without these partnerships,” said McDonnell. “The benefits are threefold—a cleaner environment, economic development, and revitalized communities.”
After Jeannette Glass declared bankruptcy in 1983, the property changed hands but remained largely idle and plagued with environmental violations, which prompted enforcement actions by DEP and the City of Jeannette.
WCIDC secured the deed in 2015, entered the voluntary Act 2 program, and later received grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling, or Act 2, program has been recognized as a national leader in in facilitating the reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites.
WCIDC elected to pursue site-specific standards for soil and groundwater and are currently characterizing the contaminants at the site.
Ground was broken in May 2017 to begin the remediation which consisted of asbestos abatement, building demolition, waste removal, and sampling. WCIDC reached out to DEP for assistance to pursue Act 2 release from liability.
“This site has sat idle for too long,” said Jason Rigone, executive director, WCIDC. “We’ve set an ambitious timetable to finish remediation to get the site back on the tax rolls—a key to Jeannette’s revitalization.”
“We met early with WCIDC staff to go over any permitting requirements they might have and how we could expedite the process to keep the project on schedule,” said Ron Schwartz, acting regional director for DEP’s Southwest Regional Office.
WCIDC received a $960,300 Industrial Site Reuse Program grant to help fund the cleanup. Under the Wolf Administration, $12.3 million in ISRP grants funded site assessments and remediation projects throughout the Commonwealth.
House Budget Cuts Threaten Reuse Program
“The latest House budget proposal raids the Industrial Site Reuse Program fund, effectively cancelling vital projects like this,” said McDonnell. “Contaminated and blighted properties are often obstacles to a community’s turnaround, but state investment through the ISRP is a catalyst to leverage private investment. Zeroing out these funds works against our efforts to remediate lands and spur economic development.”
For more information, visit DEP’s Land Recycling Program webpage.
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