Tuesday, September 26, 2017

DCNR Now Accepting Nominations For 2018 Pennsylvania Trail Of The Year

DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year.  The deadline for nominations is November 17.
“Pennsylvania is a leader in trail development, providing its citizens and visitors with more than 11,000 miles of trails across the Commonwealth to enjoy, from gentle pathways threading through miles of preserved greenways, to remote, rugged trails scaling the state’s magnificent mountains,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
Each year, the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee designates a Trail of the Year to help build enthusiasm and support for both large and small trails, and raise public awareness about the value of Pennsylvania’s trail network.
Eligible trails must be at least one mile in length and be open to the public. In honor of the achievement, the committee and DCNR produce a poster for statewide distribution and plan a public celebration for the recognized trail.
The 63-mile Montour Trail system in Allegheny and Washington counties has been named the 2017 Pennsylvania Trail of the Year.
Individuals and organizations can submit a nomination form found on DCNR’s Pennsylvania Trail of the Year webpage. Entries, with supporting material, should be emailed to: RA-explorepatrails@pa.gov.
For more information on trails in Pennsylvania, visit the Explore PA Trails website.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Hosts Biophilia: Pittsburgh Oct. 5

The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host Biophilia: Pittsburgh reflections on the Gaia hypothesis and strengthening the bond between people and the natural world on October 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.
The program will feature Dr. John Stolz, professor of microbiology and director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education program at Duquesne University, who will lead the discussion, "Gaia — Reflections on Turning 50."
The Gaia hypothesis, authored by James Lovelock 50 years ago, proposed that the Earth’s biota (all living things) interact with the atmosphere, the planet’s waters and the crust, to create a life support system that maintains the long-term habitability of the planet.
The event will take place in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory, One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh.  A networking session will be held from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m., presentations from 6:00 to 6:30 and discussion from 6:30 to 7:30.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network dedicated to strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action.
Click Here for all the details.

Schuylkill Action Network Annual Meeting Nov. 3 In Reading

The Schuylkill Action Network  2017 Annual Meeting will be held on November 3 at the Reading Area Community College from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The morning session will include updates from seven SAN workgroups: Abandoned Mine Drainage, Agriculture, Education and Outreach, Pathogens and Point Source, Recreation, Stormwater and Watershed Land Collaborative.
The afternoon session will feature speakers from different sectors in the watershed presenting on how a cleaner river impacts their work and life.
Click Here for all the details and to register.
For more information on programs, initiatives and other upcoming events, visit the Schuylkill Action Network website.

PA Coal Alliance Recognizes Mining Companies For Exemplary Surface Mine Reclamation

The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance recently recognized the efforts of several member companies who performed above and beyond federal and state regulations for reclaiming coal mine sites to environmentally sound conditions with productive uses during the 2016 calendar year.
Pennsylvania continues to be a leader in reclamation efforts. The awarded sites cover include the reclamation of 60 acres of previously affected abandoned mine lands.
Robindale Energy Services, Inc. of Latrobe, PA received an award for the best overall reclamation for the Renton Pile in Allegheny County. The completed project included 20 acres of mined and unreclaimed land, which has improved the water quality of Little Plum Creek in Allegheny County.
Reclamation Awards were also presented to companies with outstanding achievements in reclamation--
-- Amerikohl Mining, Inc. of Butler, PA, was recognized for completion of reclamation at the Smith Mine in Armstrong County and the Makray Mine in Clarion County;
-- Coal Loaders, Inc. received an award for the reclamation of the Mellon #1 Mine in Westmoreland County; and
-- PBS Coals, Inc. and Wilson Creek Energy, LLC were recognized for their reclamation efforts in Somerset County at the Barta Mine and Ankeny Mine, respectively.
“PCA members companies have the expertise needed to address environmental impacts of the past, and a strong long-term commitment to environmental stewardship,” said PCA Executive Director Rachel Gleason. “We commend their continued dedication to our communities and the Commonwealth.”
The award-winning sites were chosen in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Active and Abandoned Mine Operations using an evaluation process based on pre-mining condition, reclamation quality, the degree of difficulty and correction of environmental and safety hazards.
For more information on issues related to coal mining, visit the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance website.

Conservative House Republicans Attempt To Block Vote On Resolution Designating October Biodiversity Awareness Month

The House voted 126 to 70 to pass House Resolution 497 (McCarter-D-Montgomery) designating October as Biodiversity Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, but not before voting 152 to 44 to reject a motion by Rep. Cris Dush (R-Indiana) to postpone a vote until October 4.
Rep. Dush said he made the motion for postponement because he wanted to review the scientific information underpinning the resolution to see if it has been peer reviewed.  
Rep. Dush is part of the group that developed the House-passed revenue plan that takes $317 million from environmental and energy funds.
The text of the resolution follows--
Designating the month of October 2017 as "Biodiversity Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.
WHEREAS, According to the American Heritage Science Dictionary, biodiversity is defined as "the number, variety, and genetic variation of different organisms found within a specified geographic region"; and
WHEREAS, Use of the term biodiversity can encompass several aspects of the natural world; and
WHEREAS, Beyond the total number of different and distinct species, biodiversity can be used to describe an ecosystem, which refers to a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment; and
WHEREAS, Biodiversity may also refer to the distinct genetic differences among a particular species in which some members have developed certain unique characteristics based on their geographic location and environment establishing certain endemic species that only live within a specific area; and
WHEREAS, According to the National Geographic Society, scientists located throughout the world have identified nearly 1.75 million species to date, including more than 950,000 species of insects, 270,000 species of plants, 19,000 species of fish, 9,000 species of birds, 4,000 species of mammals and countless other species such as fungi, arachnids and mollusks; and
WHEREAS, The term "biological diversity" was first used and popularized by entomologist Edward O. Wilson in his 1992 book, The Diversity of Life, in which he referred to the totality of Earth's organisms and their interdependence based on interactions between different species and their habitats; and
WHEREAS, The 2014 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) publication, Living Planet Report, found that wildlife populations of vertebrate species have declined by 52% over the past 40 years; and
WHEREAS, The WWF has referred to the consequences of human activities as being directly responsible for the alarming decline and in some cases the extinction of certain species; and
WHEREAS, Climate change, the clearing of natural habitats due to increased human development and the expansion of agriculture, overfishing, poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking have all contributed to the decrease in species' populations throughout the world; and
WHEREAS, The loss of a species may have an impact beyond that of the environment in which it lives; and
WHEREAS, The ecological loss of species may negatively impact a region's economy due to a loss of tourism and may be adverse to native people and cultures that often consider an animal or a species to be of particular importance to their heritage; and
WHEREAS, Based on scientific models and collected data, the National Audubon Society's 2014 Climate Change Report indicates that of North America's 588 bird species, 314 could lose more than 50% of their current climatic range by the year 2080; and
WHEREAS, According to the report, many of North America's bird species are currently experiencing population declines for a variety of reasons, including shifting climatic ranges; and
WHEREAS, As climatic ranges shift, native bird species could face an increase in competition for food and other resources from invasive species; and
WHEREAS, When a species with a shrinking population is faced with a sudden increase in competition for resources by one or more invasive species, its likelihood of survival further diminishes; and
WHEREAS, A species whose total population decreases is less likely to adapt and survive in a changing environment; and
WHEREAS, As a species' total population decreases, there is less genetic diversity carried forward by new offspring, making the overall population more susceptible to illness and disease; and
WHEREAS, In her recently published book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, author Elizabeth Kolbert states that there have been five mass extinctions in the history of life on Earth; and
WHEREAS, According to Ms. Kolbert, the world may currently be facing a possible sixth extinction, a mass die-off of a multitude of species due to manmade activities; and
WHEREAS, It is vital that people be educated about the importance of biodiversity and commit to working toward maintaining the Earth's unique and fascinating species; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives designate the month of October 2017 as "Biodiversity Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.
A sponsor summary of the resolution is available.
For more information on biodiversity in Pennsylvania, visit the iCONSERVE Pennsylvania Biodiversity webpage.
(Photo: Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative.)

PA Resources Council Holds Next Future Of Recycling Roundtable Oct. 11 In Pittsburgh

The PA Resources Council will hold its second Future of Recycling Roundtable discussion on October 11 at Construction Junction, 214 N. Lexington Street in Pittsburgh from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Hear from experts on the state of recycling in Pennsylvania and what’s next. Share your thoughts, ask questions and network with others concerned about the environmental and financial impacts of recycling programs.
The panel will feature John C. Dernbach, professor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School; David Hess, former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection; Joy Smallwood, Allegheny County Recycling Coordinator; and Justin Stockdale, PRC Western Regional Director.
Moderating the panel will be Howard Wein, PRC Director Emeritus and shareholder at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC.
Among the topics expected to be discussed are the proposal to take $70 million from the Recycling Fund to balance the state budget, reforming the electronics recycling program and much more.
For more information or to register, visit the Future of Recycling Roundtable event webpage.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Resources Council website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates, follow PRC on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here for PRC’s Events Calendar.  Click Here to support their work.

Fish & Boat Commission Votes To Close Hatcheries, Limit Stocking If Legislature Does Not Act On License Fee Bill

Facing escalating costs and declining revenues after 12 years without an increase in the price of a fishing license, the Fish and Boat Commission voted Monday to reduce spending by $2 million in fiscal year 2018-19 if the legislature does not act on legislation-- Senate Bill 30 (Eichelberger- R-Blair) to raise license fees.
The action came during the agency’s quarterly business meeting being held Monday and Tuesday.
The current plan for achieving the $2 million reduction in operating expenses would involve closing two warmwater hatcheries and one trout hatchery. The plan would reduce the number of trout stocked in 2019 by 7.5 percent and would result in severe reductions to the PFBC’s cooperative nursery program.
PFBC Executive Director John Arway said that, barring a price increase established by the state legislature, the agency must begin to take these steps to remain financially solvent and provide basic services to the nearly 850,000 anglers who purchase a license each year.
“The price of a general fishing license was last raised in 2005,” he said. “Since then, we have continued to provide the same level of services to our customers, while seeking a price increase from the state legislature. The Senate has acted twice and passed legislation in 2016 and 2017 to give the Commission the authority to set license fees. But the House has failed to vote on Senate Bill 30. Until they do, we must cut expenses to pay our bills.”
Closing the hatcheries would result in the elimination of 240,000 adult stocked trout in 61 streams and four lakes. See the PFBC website for specific waters – map, list.)
The production and stocking of warmwater species would also be affected, including walleye, American shad, Musky, Northern Pike and Channel Catfish.
“The three hatcheries won’t be fully closed until late 2018 or early 2019, so there is still time remaining this year for a legislative solution,” added Arway. “It is imperative that the House of Representatives act now and pass Senate Bill 30.”
The House Game and Fisheries Committee had a meeting scheduled on the bill for Tuesday, but it was canceled.

PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Planning Steering Committee Meets Wednesday On Targeting Most Cost Effective Practices

Analyzing highest pollutant loading areas will be the focus of the September 27 meeting of the Steering Committee for Phase 3 of Pennsylvania’s plan to clean up local waters in its part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, U.S. Geological Survey, and Chesapeake Bay Program will introduce data and software that work groups and local partners will use to help determine priority areas for pollutant reduction throughout Pennsylvania’s Bay watershed counties.
Matt Johnston, University of Maryland Chesapeake Bay Program Nonpoint Source Data Analyst,  told the panel in August his office will present the Steering Committee with a data run at its September meeting showing the top best management practices for meeting each pollutant-- nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment-- reductions for each county in the Pennsylvania portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
All of those practices will be on-farm conservation BMPs.
The meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building from 1:00 to 4:00.  The meeting will also be available via webinar.  Click Here to register.
For more information, visit DEP’s PA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan webpage.

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