Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Lee Ann Murray Takes Position With House Democratic Caucus Legal Staff

Lee Ann Murray has taken a Senior Legal Counsel position with the House Democratic Caucus legal staff after serving since May 1, 2017 as Executive Director of DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council.
Between 2010 and 2017, Murray served as the Assistant Director and Staff Attorney for the Pennsylvania Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation helping to set office priorities and serving as an advocate for Bay policies with the General Assembly, state agencies and other groups.
She also previously served as Legal Counsel to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and in the Office of Chief Counsel for the Majority Leader and the Democratic Caucus in the House.
Murray was also Assistant Counsel in the Department of Environmental Protection’s  Southcentral Regional Office for five years and as a private attorney in the firm of McNees, Wallace & Nurick in Harrisburg.
She also served as Project Coordinator for the PA Wildlife Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Important Mammal Area Project.
Murray received her law degree from The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
CAC Contact
Neil Bakshi, from DEP’s Policy Office will serve as a contact for the CAC until a new Executive Director can be appointed.  He can be contacted by sending email to: nebakshi@pa.gov.
Act 7 signed into law in February of 2016 gives the Council independent authority to hire its own Executive Director.
For more information, visit the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.

Help Wanted: 10,000 Friends Of Pennsylvania President

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is seeking a dynamic individual to serve as President to lead its day to day operations while creating an exciting future together with our staff, Board of Directors and or funding partners.
10,000 Friends is a leading statewide voice for creating great places to live, work and visit. They work with citizens, organizations, public officials and business to foster equitable land use decisions, strategic infrastructure investments and new governance policies and practices that build strong, healthy communities, protect our environment and strengthen our economy.
Click Here for all the details.

Hawk Mountain Wraps Up Spring Hawk Watch, Numbers 40% Lower Due To Weather

The 2018 Spring Migration Hawk Watch at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County came to a close on May 15, after a six week observation period that began April 1.
Hawk Mountain Conservation Science Trainees, assisted by volunteers and staff, tallied a total 567 migrating raptors during this time.
The total count for this year is about 40 percent lower than the 10-year average, mostly due to weather during peak migration times. A great number of rain days in April and May affected the count, and southeast winds in late April may have pushed migrating birds to the west.
In addition, an early string of warm days may have caused short distance migrants, such as red-tailed hawks and sharp-shinned hawks, to move north before the official April 1 start date of the Hawk Watch.
Broad-winged hawks were the most numerous migrant, followed by osprey, sharpshins, and redtails. Every species came in under the 10-year average, except for the peregrine falcon, of which 3 were seen during the count season. Daily counts are available online.
Other migrants spotted included common loon, barn and tree swallows, and double-crested cormorants. Migrating raptors and other avian wildlife may continue to be seen soaring past the Lookouts in the coming weeks.
The Autumn Migration Hawk Watch will take place August 15 through December 15.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary website or call 610-756-6961.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Sanctuary, Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, visit them on Flickr, be part of their Google+ Circle and visit their YouTube Channel.  Click Here to support Hawk Mountain.

Registration Now Open For Women And Their Woods Educational Retreat On Sept. 6-9

Women across the mid-Atlantic region who own, care for, or are interested in learning more about forestland are invited to apply now to attend the Delaware Highlands Conservancy’s Women and Their Woods Educational Retreat from September 6-9 at the Highlights Foundation Workshop Facility, Milanville, Wayne County.
The biennial retreat is an in-depth, fun, engaging, and thought-provoking workshop on caring for your woodlands now and into the future. No matter the size of your woodlands or if you’re not yet an owner, join us for learning, networking, and applying new knowledge about good forest stewardship.
Workshops are led by resource professionals including Penn State’s Center for Private Forests, cooperative extension, state and federal forest agencies, in addition to local land trusts, private consultants and legal experts.
Attendees gain information on forest stewardship and legacy planning while learning the basics about mentoring other women landowners.
Topics and activities in indoor and outdoor sessions and field trips include forest plant identification, forest ecology, wildlife habitat improvements, measuring the value in your forest, finding professional assistance, forest plant identification, estate and financial planning, and more.
The event this year will be held at the Highlights Foundation Workshop Facility. Cabins and lodge rooms have modern facilities and wireless Internet access. Farm-style meals are prepared by a top-notch chef and are a time for lively discussion, while snacks are always available for late-night or early morning sessions.
The intimate and inspiring setting features serene walking trails, a 1,300-acre forest, and a creek that runs to the nearby Delaware River.
The cost to attend the four‐day retreat is $300; this covers lodging for the three nights, three meals per day with snacks, and all workshop resources and materials. The application deadline is August 1. Space is limited.  Submit your application today to secure your spot.
Women and Their Woods is sponsored by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service at Gifford Pinchot’s Grey Towers National Historic Site, the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, and the William Penn Foundation.
For more information on Women and Their Woods or for an application to attend the Retreat, visit the Women and Their Woods Educational Retreat webpage.  Questions should be directed to Amanda Subjin, Delaware Highlands Conservancy, by sending email to: amanda@delawarehighlands.org,  or call 570-226-3164 ext. 2.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Delaware Highlands Conservancy website or call 570-226-3164 or 845-583-1010.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the Conservancy, Like on Facebook and Follow on Twitter. Learn about the Green Lodging Partnership initiative.  Click Here to support their work.

Register Today For Lacawac's Student Conservation & Leadership Academy June 24-29

The Lacawac Environmental Education Center in Wayne County is now accepting registration for its Summer High School Residential Program for students age 13 to 17 running from June 24 to 29.
Join Conservation Leaders in Pike and Wayne Counties for a week of fun, adventure and hands-on learning. High school students will be immersed in a week long resident camp at the beautiful and historic Lacawac Sanctuary and Field Station. Campers will experience science along-side local environmental professionals and resident university researchers.
​This is a residential program. Students live at Lacawac Sanctuary. Tuition covers housing, meals and activities.  Scholarships are available for Wayne and Pike County Students.
Click Here for all the details and to register.  For more information contact Jamie Reeger at 570-689-9494 or send email to: jamie.reeger@lacawac.org.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Lacawac Sanctuary website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates (right panel). Follow on Twitter.  Like on Facebook.   Click Here to support their work.

Students Invited To Paddle CBF-PA's Susquehanna River Canoe Classic June 2 Columbia, Lancaster County

Area high school students are invited to paddle for fun and prizes when the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Student Leadership Council hosts its Third Annual Canoe Classic on the Susquehanna River June 2, from 10:00 to 3:00 p.m.
CBF-PA will provide all gear for the timed competition. The free event at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center, 41 Walnut St., Columbia, Lancaster County..
This year’s event will be part of the Riverlands Trail Festival and Lancaster Water Week. In addition to the canoeing competition, there will be educational exhibits, live music, and an awards ceremony.
Students ages 14-18 can register by visiting the Canoe Classic webpage. Questions can be directed to: SLCoordinator@cbf.org.
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 to support their work.
(Photo: Columbia Crossing River Trails Center.)

Reinford Farms, Juniata County, Wins U.S. Innovation Center 2018 Dairy Sustainability Award For Renewable Energy Projects

Land O'Lakes, Inc. dairy member-owner Reinford Farms, a second-generation, family-owned dairy farm located in Mifflintown, Juniata County, in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, is a winner of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy's 2018 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award.
Reinford Farms has invested in innovative technologies to turn food waste and manure generated on-farm into renewable energy.
Partnering with local businesses, including 15 grocery stores and food manufacturing companies, Reinford Farms diverts between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons of food waste from landfills each day.
Through this partnership, Reinford Farms generates 1.5 million kWh of renewable electricity each year – enough to power their entire farm, as well as 100 area homes.
Since they started recycling food waste ten years ago, Reinford Farms has kept more than 35,000 tons of food waste out of landfills, capturing 133 million pounds of greenhouse gases that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere.
"At Reinford Farms, we take a comprehensive approach to incorporating environmental, economic and social sustainability," said Brett Reinford, owner of Reinford Farms. "From the emphasis we place on animal welfare, to the way we treat our employees, to our partnership with local businesses to generate a common good –  clean, renewable energy – and preserve our shared land, air and water resources, it's all interconnected. We're honored to receive this award and this opportunity to showcase our approach to feeding people in a sustainable way."
"This year's winners exemplify how a drive toward the vision of dairy as economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable is at the heart of our dairy industry, from farm to table," said Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "Each winner showcases what is possible and how innovation and drive can take a vision and make it a reality."
"At Land O'Lakes, we believe meaningful sustainability is farmer-owned and farmer-driven. We are proud to recognize farmers like the Reinford family who are on the cutting edge of conservation and sustainability," said Matt Carstens, senior vice president of Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN. "Together, we are creating stronger connections between consumers and those who work hard to feed them, where consumers understand and trust that the food that they're eating is being grown in a way that's good for the planet and for the farmer."
Click Here for a fact sheet about Reinford Farms sustainability efforts.  For more information, visit the Reinford Farms website.
(Photo: Reinford Farms anaerobic digester, BioCycle, The Renewable Energy Generation.)

Communities Look For Dig Once Opportunities To Integrate Green Infrastructure To Reduce Stormwater

By Donna Morelli, Chesapeake Bay Journal

Along the streets of Carlisle, PA, Mark Malarich looks for opportunities to squeeze in some green. The borough is home to 18,500 people concentrated in a 5.5-square-mile area filled with historic homes and paved spaces.
Malarich, the borough public works director, manages stormwater in a community that has been steadily gaining hardened surfaces since it was settled in 1751. In everything his department does, from repaving parking lots to tearing up streets, his staff is trained to think about where a nice swale or a rain garden can be installed.
“It is part of our requirements now, to think that way,” Malarich said. “When scheduling maintenance projects or beginning any municipal public works project, we automatically look for the potential to incorporate some type of green infrastructure.”
Carlisle has found that integrating green infrastructure into existing projects makes sense, saves money and smooths out the process of meeting its pollution reduction requirements. The borough has been working to control stormwater for a long time; it’s had time to figure out a system that works.
How to streamline that process for communities was the subject of a workshop offered by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay last fall that brought together municipalities, and state and federal regulators as well as funders to explore what successful communities have done.
As the report’s name implies, integrating stormwater infrastructure with other capital projects for roads, utilities, parks and schools provides an opportunity to save time and money, but successfully doing so requires planning and coordination from government departments that are not necessarily accustomed to working together.
Streamlining that work is important to the bottom line: There are 552 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits in the Chesapeake Bay region, and all are facing new regulatory challenges, including meeting goals set under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or “pollution diet.”
Green infrastructure refers to spots of green within an urban community designed to mimic natural systems — such as rain gardens or vegetated swales — that collect and slow rainwater, thereby allowing it to slowly seep into the ground, filtering it through layers of soil and plant roots as it makes it way to a river or stream.
They may still require a lot of human engineering, but the finished result in many cases can be less expensive and more environmentally beneficial than gray infrastructure.
These actions may also provide secondary benefits such as parking lots interspersed with islands of green that treat stormwater while providing shade and cleaner air. Brightly colored native wildflowers in rain gardens on a main street filter sidewalk runoff while welcoming visitors to a town.
Staff at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which funded the workshop and report, have helped hundreds of communities and nonprofits implement green infrastructure projects, and have seen firsthand the obstacles that even experienced communities face.
As these projects become more common, the actual digging up of pavement and the installation of gardens, soil and trees in areas where utilities, and “hard” infrastructure such as pipes already exists — sometimes for hundreds of years — continues to offer surprises.
“We continue to see a lot of projects that encounter unforeseen consequences related to public infrastructure,” said Jake Reilly, director of Chesapeake Bay Programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “Some have significant delays and need another year to finish — in extreme cases, they can’t get beyond the issues.”
Green infrastructure is still a new concept to local governments — and only one item on a very long list of responsibilities from running police departments to making sure the trash is picked up.
“It’s expensive to get grants and it’s expensive to install green infrastructure, no matter the funding source,” said Mary Gattis, coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee and the lead author for the project. “We want to get ahead of processes that prevent the loss of funds, loss of projects and loss of time. We can’t make a perfect world, but we can make a better world so you’re not wasting resources.”
Here are some of the suggestions outlined in the report as well as advice from successful communities.
Better Communication
Long before a shovel hits the ground, someone has to be a leader — or a champion of green infrastructure in the community to provide coordination and improve communication.
If a public works director is excited about rain gardens and swales, but the city manager could care less and the parks director doesn’t want a blade of grass changed, projects will be stalled, if they happen at all.
“None of those things sound like finance but they are hugely important components,” said Jennifer Cotting, associate director of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. “They can have the best plan in the world, but without a champion, the investment in water quality isn’t going to happen.”
The center, which is part of the University of Maryland, has worked on 50 stormwater finance projects across all of the Bay states.
Carlisle Borough hired a champion in Malarich. He’s trained as an environmental engineer and worked with several municipalities on their stormwater permits before coming to the borough.
His advice to built-out communities with little space for projects is to look to areas where there’s more turf than pavement — places like colleges, business parks, school districts and churches — and talk to them early in the process.
“Hold an outreach meeting with partners where land is available,” Malarich said. “For us, it was the school district and the [Dickinson] college. We identified projects we could do there and put it into the Capital Improvement Plan.”
The City of Lancaster is a national leader for its green infrastructure program. The city and its staff have received accolades for individual projects as well as its 2011 citywide Green Infrastructure Plan.
Ruth Hocker, stormwater program manager for Lancaster City, stressed the importance of making sure a government communicates with its public works crew — the people that dig the soil, vacuum the pervious pavement and weed the gardens.
“Lots of communities talk about the importance of educating their elected officials,” she said. “That is important, but it’s just as important to educate the people who are maintaining all of these structures throughout the city.”
Pool Your Resources
The Eastern Shore of Maryland is known for its charming towns that mix history with Bay views, quaint farms and vacation spots. Some of the more rural communities on the Eastern Shore were struggling with cleaning their local streams and creeks and the Chesapeake Bay.
A Healthy Waters Roundtable, led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation brought these communities together to brainstorm solutions. The answer was to work together and share limited resources.
Recently, the CBF was awarded a $316,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to set up a formal structure between counties and small communities. Funds will be used to hire a regional technical service provider and as seed money for restoration projects.
The collaboration includes Talbot and Queen Ann counties, the towns of Easton and Oxford and the cities of Salisbury and Cambridge. Depending on size and needs, each community contributed $6,000 to $37,000 to the effort. It also got funding from the state of Maryland and nonprofit partners. Combined, the entire effort is funded at $630,000.
“Half of these communities are regulated and half not,” said Alan Girard, Eastern Shore director for the CBF. “This is a way to pay a little bit of money in and get more benefit than they would if they were to do it on their own.”
Similarly, in rural Blair County, PA, 14 municipalities decided to form an intergovernmental committee and hire a regional MS4 coordinator to help them implement a joint Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Plan as well as each community’s individual permit needs.
The plan, required by the state’s MS4 permit for communities within the Bay watershed, outlines green infrastructure projects throughout two impaired watersheds.
“She will facilitate the Intergovernmental Stormwater Committee and will be assisting each municipality as their individual needs dictate,” said Donna Fisher, director of the Blair County Conservation District, where the position is based. “The increased level of management on a regional basis will serve all municipalities and although it will not lessen their responsibilities, it may lessen their workload.”
Funding & Financing
The first thing Cotting, of the Environmental Finance Center, does when working with a new community is tell them “grants aren’t going to get you there.” The center, which is part of the University of Maryland, has worked with 50 communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia on financing stormwater programs.
EFC staff will pore over the capital improvement plans of a municipality to find cost savings before looking at financing or funding mechanisms.
“What we’re looking for is [already funded] projects that don’t necessarily sound like stormwater management but where there are opportunities to add green infrastructure,” Cotting said.
Even when grants are part of the strategy, their timing doesn’t always line up with the long process of planning, development and public outreach required for a large-scale infrastructure project.
In some cases, communities have had to return money to foundations and state offices when the grant period ended long before the project was finished.
Lori Yeich, a regional supervisor with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, regularly advises communities how they can “dig once” by adding green infrastructure to their community parks as well as playground and sports facilities when they are seeking grant funds for upgrades.
“The first thing I do with a municipality is have them write a list of all of the grants available with their deadlines for application,” Yeich said. “That way we can match up when they can apply for [funds] before they submit a proposal to our programs.”
Combine Efforts
Small communities with a high percentage of paved areas can combine their efforts and lower costs by using the talents and skills their employees possess — and borrowing skills from their neighbors.
The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, which has managed the wastewater systems of 35 communities since 1962 in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County — a former coal-mining region of cash-strapped municipalities — is taking responsibility for stormwater permits in those communities.
“It’s a lot of work to do in five years, but it’s the right thing to do,” Tomaine said, speaking of the five-year lifespan of the permit. “We felt we could be more efficient than each individual community taking on the program on their own. This is a regional problem. And we can handle it.”
Luzerne County has to reduce 3 million pounds of sediment in five years, and the complex infrastructure needed to set up a program is overwhelming to the individual communities.
“Some of these municipalities don’t even have a secretary to answer their phone,” Tomaine said.
Through combining their resources, the 35 communities with a collective population of 200,000 could save $57 million to $274 million over the next two decades.
“We all have a responsibility to clean up the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay because no single municipality could meet this obligation alone,” said Sen. John Yudichak, a Democrat who serves two counties in northern Pennsylvania [and is Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee]. “The regional stormwater project — designed to improve water quality and wildlife habitats throughout the watershed — represents the most comprehensive environmental project in northeast Pennsylvania in the last 40 years.”
As smaller communities come together to meet their obligations it is a matter of economies of scale, said the CBF’s Girard of the Eastern Shore effort.
“It’s expensive, it’s difficult and it’s not going to get done if somebody doesn’t ask the questions, he said. “However small the slice of the pie, it’s still a slice. To be fair, everybody has to address their own sources.”
Click Here for a copy of the Streamlining Integrated Infrastructure Implementation: Dig Once report.
Visit DEP’s How To Be Stormwater Smart webpage to learn more about managing stormwater with green infrastructure.
(Photo: Bioretention basin at Sporting Hill Elementary School, Cumberland County.)
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(Reprinted from the Chesapeake Bay Journal.)

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