Monday, September 26, 2016

Save the Loyalsock Coalition Hosts Educational Hikes Oct. 2 In Lycoming County

The Save the Loyalsock Coalition will host several educational hikes on October 2 along the Old Loggers Path in the Loyalsock State Forest in Canton, Lycoming County for hikers of all skill levels beginning at 10:00 a.m.
The event is based at the Old Loggers Path trailhead in the historic ghost town of Masten and will highlight the wildlife and natural wonders found in the Loyalsock State Forest. Clyde Peeling of Reptiland will provide a presentation about native snakes.
The Old Loggers Path, one of Pennsylvania’s finest backpacking trails, is located within the 25,000-acre Clarence Moore Tract of the Loyalsock State Forest, which is currently under threat of natural gas development.
The program will provide an opportunity to learn about the risks natural gas drilling poses to our public lands.
Click Here for more information on the hikes and to register.

Sept. 26 Watershed Winds Newsletter Now Available From Penn State Extension

The September 26 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.

Agriculture Accepting Proposals On Nutrient Reduction, Preservation, Other Issues Thru Oct. 7

With a number of challenges confronting the agriculture industry – ranging from invasive pests and water quality improvement obligations to global macroeconomic forces and access to human and financial capital – the Department of Agriculture announced Monday said it is now accepting research funding proposals for projects that seek to better understand these issues.  (formal notice)
Proposals are due October 7.
The department is soliciting proposals specific to animal health and animal sciences matters separately via the Pennsylvania Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission.
“From conservation to pest management to farm succession, there is no shortage of challenges facing Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, “but that also often means there is no shortage of opportunities. Realizing those opportunities, though, requires research to better understand these issues. Thanks to Governor Wolf and the General Assembly, we have resources to study these issues and better understand some of the most pressing issues in Pennsylvania facing the agriculture industry.”
For the current fiscal year, more than $1.6 million was appropriated through the Agriculture Research line item. Additionally, $1.5 million was appropriated in fiscal year 2015-16, but was lapsed into the current fiscal year after insufficient time remained to solicit proposals and award grants prior to the June 30 fiscal year end date. Of that total, more than $1 million is available for research projects.
The priority topics identified for funding include:
-- Nutrient Imbalance And Infrastructure Opportunities In Western Pennsylvania:  Given the concentration of animal agriculture in central Pennsylvania and nutrient loads into that region’s waterways, what are the opportunities and challenges for expanding animal agriculture in western Pennsylvania.
-- Farm Safety: While existing research speaks to the benefits of farm safety measures and technologies, what reasons account for why more farmers do not make these potentially life-saving investments.
-- Plant Pest Control Development, Testing and Monitoring: Given the introduction of new invasive species into Pennsylvania, what are the most effective pesticides for controlling these pests and what options exist for pest control in the growing organic sector.
-- Plant Pathogens: A better understanding of the biology and epidemiology of plant pathogens and recommendations on how to control these pathogens is needed to prevent the spread of plant pests.
-- Farmland Preservation: New, contemporary research is needed to better understand the return on investment of public support for farmland preservation, including quantification of the return and direct and indirect contribution of preserved farms to the state economy, and actual and avoided public service costs for preserved land compared to developed tracts.
-- Dairy Industry: The low-price environment in global dairy markets is challenging farmers across the state. To better manage in these challenging times, new research is needed on historical trends and future forecasts in milk product markets, as well as an assessment of processing capacity in the state.
-- Banking And Market Development: Access to capital is often cited as a challenge for agriculture. New research is needed to assess the availability of financing options in different regions of the state and the performance of agriculture loan portfolios.
-- Workforce Development:  Given the anticipated job vacancies in the state’s food and fiber industries over the next decade, a better understanding of how employers in these industries train workers for long-term careers is needed.
Aside from these priority areas of focus, the department is also making a share of the funding available for multi-year projects that may have received funding in the past, but require additional resources in order for researchers to complete their study.
Animal Health Grants
Additional funding will be available for research directly related to animal agriculture through the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission.
Priority topics are animal health, diagnosis of animal diseases, the One Health initiative, animal productivity, and animal welfare. Project pre-proposals, up to two pages in length, are due September 30 to Deb Hepler by sending email to: dhepler@pa.gov. Selected pre-proposals will be chosen by October 4, with full proposals due October 28.
Proposals for the non-animal-focused research should include contact information, justification that it aligns with one of identified priority topics, detail of proposed research, any additional funding partners and amount of funding, industry support (in writing), and a detailed project budget.
Project proposals will be scored on a number of factors, including the strength of its needs statement, potential impact of outcomes, methodology, evaluation and replicability, and industry support and participation.
Final applications should be submitted to the attention of Executive Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Smith at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110, by the October 7 deadline.

PA Environmental Council Examines DEP’s 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update

By Lindsay Baxter, Energy & Climate Program Manager, PA Environmental Council

On August 22, Gov. Wolf’s Administration officially released the 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update, as required by the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008.
In general, the plan is a useful document, outlining some of the key opportunities for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state.
In particular, I am thrilled to see such an emphasis on energy efficiency in the building sector, which is not only a cost-effective means of reducing GHG emissions, but has the potential to provide significant co-benefits, including cost-savings and growth in employment.
One of the most peculiar aspects of Pennsylvania’s Plan, though, is that it does not set a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A plan is meant to be a roadmap, but if we don’t know where we’re trying to go, how can we choose the right way to get there? Without a clear goal, it is impossible for policymakers and community leaders to choose the most cost-effective, beneficial combination of actions.
The plan includes a GHG inventory for the state, reporting current and projected emissions in gross and net totals.
If we focus on gross emissions, which include all GHGs  being released in the state, we can determine exactly how much carbon we’d need to cut if we chose a specific reduction goal and target year, for instance 50 percent or 80 percent by 2030 or 2050.
While the updated plan only inventories emissions through 2012, it uses the EPA’s projection tool to project emissions for 2015 – 2030. In 2012, statewide gross emissions were 287.38 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents, (MMTCO2e).  Click Here to see related chart.
These targets sound aggressive, but they’re in line with what is being recommended by many reputable sources, including the IPCC.
Eleven of the work plans quantify the annual reductions that would result in the year 2030. All of these actions combined would equate to a reduction in annual emissions of 38.58 MMTCO2e in the year 2030, as compared to emissions in 2012, equivalent to a 13 percent reduction—a significant reduction, but certainly short of where we need to be going.  
There is no information in the Plan Update regarding what recommendations were not included, and whether those might have had a bigger impact on emissions.
Cost Effectiveness vs. Impact
The table on page two of the plan ranks all 12 actions by cost-effectiveness and potential for GHG reductions. To make it easier to compare these two metrics visually, I created this scatter plot — actions towards the top have the greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions, whereas those that are furthest to the right have the greatest potential for economic benefit.
To be clear, this graph doesn’t tell the full story — for example, biodigesters may not be significant to GHG reductions, but can play an important role in improving water quality through better manure management — but it provides a way to visualize where we can get the most “bang for our buck.”
Climate change exacerbates nearly all of the current environmental challenges we face, including air pollution, water quality, and threats to ecosystems. It is deserving of significant action at the local, state, national, and international levels. While it is encouraging to see Pennsylvania actively updating its plan, it is implementation of the plan that counts.
A copy of DEP’s 2015 Climate Action Plan Update and a Comment/Response Document is available online.
Click Here for a copy of PEC’s review.  Lindsay Baxter can be contacted by calling 412-481-9400 or send email to: lbaxter@pecpa.org.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.

Media Advisory: Sen. Killion, Others Announce Introduction Of $315M Growing Greener Initiative Sept. 28

Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition will hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on September 28 on the Lt. Governor’s Balcony (2nd Floor) in the Capitol Rotunda Harrisburg to announce introduction of bipartisan legislation to create a Growing Greener III program and provide $315 million in annual investments to protect the state’s water, land, and other natural resources.
          The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition last week unveiled its blueprint for a Growing Greener III program to ensure Pennsylvanians continue to have access to clean water, parks and trails, green open spaces, and locally grown food.
          Expected to attend are—
— Sen. Tom Killion will be joined by Sen. Richard Alloway (R-York), Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) and other members of the Senate.
— Andrew Heath, Executive Director, PA Growing Greener Coalition
— Oliver Bass, Vice President, Natural Lands Trust
— John Dawes, Executive Director, Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
— Marci Mowery, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
— Jeff Swinehart, Deputy Director, Lancaster Farmland Trust
— Additional Growing Greener III Supporters
          Contacts for more information: Kim Maialetti, Wordplay, LLC, 267-258-0076 and Andrew Heath, Growing Greener Coalition, 717-824-2281

Pennsylvania Envirothon Receives $50,000 Grant From Shell

The Pennsylvania Envirothon Monday announced Shell has provided a $50,000 grant to the Envirothon and its educational initiatives, which work to improve student performance, encourage diversity, and benefit our nation’s future competitiveness.
“The Envirothon program is an outstanding example of STEM in action.  The vigorous preparation from students throughout the Commonwealth fosters healthy competition and is helping to foster a generation of Pennsylvanians who understand the value of Pennsylvania’s environment and its future,” said John Hines, Shell Government Relations Advisor.
(Photo: Bill Kahler, PA Envirothon Chair; John Hines, Shell Government Relations Advisor; Karen Books, PA Envirothon Director; Lorelle Steach, PA Envirothon Executive Director; and Vince McCollum, PA Envirothon Vice-Chair.)
Shell is a leading oil and gas producer, a recognized pioneer in oil and gas exploration and production technology, and one of America’s leading oil and natural gas producers, gasoline and natural gas marketers and petrochemical manufacturers.  
Shell takes great pride in the communities in which it has operations and is very supportive of civic and educational programs such as the Envirothon.
The Envirothon program produces students who are well-informed on environmental issues and real world scenarios.  
In addition to math, science, and technology, students also acquire the fundamental skills to think about, articulate, and share the knowledge they gain while preparing for the Envirothon competition.  
The program promotes stewardship, sustainability, green technology, teamwork, critical and analytical thinking and community awareness, all of which correlate to Shell’s mission.
The grant from Shell enables the Pennsylvania Envirothon to offer hands-on and video trainings, provide resources, teaching tools and equipment that relate to the Envirothon stations.  
In addition, the Shell grant will provide mini-grants and financial assistance to conservation districts, increase scholarship awards, and register a Pennsylvania representative to compete at the North American Envirothon.
For more information, contact Pennsylvania Envirothon Executive Director, Lorelle Steach by calling 814-623-7900 ext. 111 or send email to: lsteach@envirothonpa.org.

Fall Bucknell University River Reporter Newsletter Now Available

-- Life History And Conservation Of Giant Salamanders In The Susquehanna River
-- Impact Of Invasive Japanese Knotweed On Riparian Forests
-- Assessing Local Streams And Urban Drainages
-- Montandon Marsh Field Research Station
-- In The Field And On The Water
-- Watching The River Flow
-- Editorial: We Are Beset!!!
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Bucknell Center For Sustainability and the Environment webpage or contact Benjamin Hayes, Director, Watershed Sciences & Engineering Program, Center for Sustainability and the Environment, by calling 570-577-1830 or send email to: benjamin.hayes@bucknell.edu.

PASA Farmer-To-Farmer Event: Productive Riparian Buffers Oct. 15, York County

The PA Association of Sustainable Agriculture will host a farmer-to-farmer education event on Productive Riparian Buffers on October 15 at the Happy Hollow Farm, 2486 Orwig Road in Stewartstown, York County.
This field day will be an in-depth look at a 5-year old riparian buffer that both follows Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) guidelines, as well as addresses different uses outside the CREP boundaries.
Farm Service Agency employee Don English and wife, landscape architect Ann, have designed a buffer that uses a wide variety of native plants in the CREP area, such as elderberry, hollies, aronia, and viburnums, as well as a broader range of species outside the CREP area--including a number of heritage apples.
Principles of buffer design, plant selection, working with government programs, and finding value in the buffer-- ecological, social, and economic-- will be discussed.
The Englishes will also share the lessons they have learned over five years of buffer installation and management—what’s worked for them and what, in hindsight, they’ might have done differently.
Tracey Coulter, a representative of the DCNR, will be present to discuss agroforestry initiatives within DCNR related to riparian buffer projects.
Also present will be representatives of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation-PA and Stroud Water Research Center, organizations that work with farmers and landowners in the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds in installing buffers by providing technical as well as access to financial assistance.
This field day is a good event for any landowner or farmer who is considering planting a buffer on their land and is wondering what sort of productive potential there might be, what funding opportunities exist, and how, in general, to make the project work.
Click Here for more information and to register.  Contact Aaron de Long at 215-804-4731 or send email to: aaron@pasafarming.org for more information about this event.

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