Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Help Wanted: President, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County is seeking qualified candidates to fill the position of President.  
The mission of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association is to conserve birds of prey worldwide by providing leadership in raptor conservation science and education, and by maintaining Hawk Mountain Sanctuary as a model observation, research and education facility.
The world’s first refuge for birds of prey, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary (Hawk Mountain) was founded in 1934 to stop the shooting of migrating raptors along an Appalachian ridge in eastern Pennsylvania.
In the eight decades since, the nonprofit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association has grown into one of the leading global voices for the conservation of birds of prey by providing international leadership in raptor conservation science and education, and by maintaining Hawk Mountain Sanctuary as a model observation, research, and education facility where tens of thousands of visitors are inspired annually.
Hawk Mountain manages its 2,500-acre woodland as a publicly accessible wildlife refuge, designed to connect people with its mountainous setting and sweeping views and to generate appreciation for the annual hawk migration, and by association, raptors globally.
Click Here for all the details and information on how to apply.

34 Groups Urge General Assembly, Gov. Wolf To Invest In Clean Rivers, Streams For PA

34 local, state, regional and national organizations concerned about the health of the Susquehanna River and water resources across the state Wednesday sent a letter to members of the General Assembly and Gov. Wolf urging them to invest in clean water for Pennsylvania.
They called for-
-- Rejecting proposed budget cuts to DEP and DCNR;
-- Enact and fully fund Growing Greener 3 legislation that is active in both chambers of the legislature; and
-- Establishing a dedicated fund for water quality protection efforts.
The text of the letter follows--
We, the undersigned advocates for restoring Susquehanna River health and safe drinking water sources for Pennsylvanians across the state, call for your swift and significant action to increase investments in water quality protection.
Approximately 20,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams are unsafe for either drinking, swimming, fishing, or aquatic life according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Many of these impaired river miles are in the Lower Susquehanna Watershed, which makes up a large portion of America’s first national water trail, the Captain John Smith Trail, a recreational resource with broad economic benefits potential.
According to a recent nationwide report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pennsylvania ranks third, behind Texas and Florida, for drinking water safety violations.
Failing water infrastructure, reduced workforce within DEP and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and insufficient watershed restoration funding have put Pennsylvania families and local economies at risk.
On June 17, 2017, residents from across the state joined together to voice concerns about Pennsylvania’s water crisis and to draw attention to three key actions that require near term response from the state legislature and the administration.
Both Fox and ABC TV covered the event. Coverage of the Susquehanna River Rally and a video of the event can be found online.
We urge the following actions by each of you—
-- Reject proposed budget cuts to DEP and DCNR: The proposed budget cuts to DEP and DCNR have the potential to make our state water crisis worse. House Bill 218 proposes cuts to DEP’s General Operations by 10 percent, its Environmental Programs by 6.5 percent, and its Environmental Protection programs by 5 percent.
It cuts all river basin commissions by up to 50 percent and hacks 8 percent from the Chesapeake Bay program. These cuts put DEP’s ability to protect our water resources in jeopardy, while stressing the agency’s basic functions, like permit oversight, to unprecedented levels.
House Bill 218 also proposes cuts to DCNR’s budget by $2.8 million, which could result in closures of state campgrounds and parks, a lack of maintenance at public facilities, and the elimination of key programs that support trails, road maintenance for hunters at state forests, and programs that battle forest fires.
Over the last 10 years, state lawmakers have cut investments in environmental protection by making fundamental oversight by our state agencies more challenging. Since FY02-03, DEP funding has been cut by 53 percent and DCNR has been cut by 24 percent, adjusted for inflation.
Spending accounts that these agencies rely upon such as the Oil & Gas Lease Fund have been raided for other purposes or left without update that resulted in fewer dollars entering these fund each year. In the FY16-17 budget, DEP and DCNR relied upon these funds for 42 percent of their revenues.
Yet, the revenue provided from these funds has decreased by 26 percent at DEP and 18 percent at DCNR.
-- Enact and fully fund Growing Greener 3 legislation that is active in both chambers of the legislature: Funding for Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program is at an all-time low. To ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to have access to clean water, parks and trails, green open spaces, and family farms, Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly must provide adequate funding for a Growing Greener 3 program by investing $315 million annually in conservation, recreation and preservation projects.
These investments support our state’s economy and enhance the health of our communities and quality of life for our residents.
Fifty-six percent of the proposed funding blueprint for the Growing Greener 3 legislation would directly support water quality programs.
If fully funded, this would total a much-needed $177,000,000 to address the approximately 20,000 miles of impaired rivers and streams, the source of the water that Pennsylvanians drink.
Of tremendous import to the 6 million Americans who rely on it for the source of their drinking water, the Susquehanna River would receive 40 percent of those water quality benefits. This would help local river-based economies and advance our state’s regional watershed cleanup requirements.
-- Establish a dedicated fund for water quality protection efforts: Pennsylvania lacks a robust source of funds for the implementation of water quality practices. The largest single source of nonpoint source funding in Pennsylvania is the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
In FY16, approximately $100 million in requests for conservation support came to NRCS from Pennsylvania farmers. Only $20 million was available, leaving a backlog of $80 million, a 4:1 ratio of unmet need.
A large funding shortfall hinders Pennsylvania’s restoration efforts. Unlike Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are two states that are on track to meet their state-wide water quality goals.
These states have the advantage of large dedicated state funding programs for both wastewater treatment and nonpoint source practices. The sources of revenue for these programs vary from a sewer bill surcharge to rental car and real estate recordation fees.
In Pennsylvania, a water use fee has been proposed. Through a dedicated fund, fee revenues would support water protection programs across the Commonwealth, in every part of the state, including the Ohio, the Genesee, the Susquehanna, the Delaware, the Erie and the Potomac watersheds.
Currently, 5.9 billion gallons of the Commonwealth’s water are used each day, statewide, without compensation.
By instead charging only one-hundredth of a cent per gallon for all withdrawals over 10,000 gallons per day, and one-tenth of a cent for all consumptive uses over 10,000 gallons per day, an estimated $245 million per year could be generated.
This is even after municipal water systems and agricultural production are exempted and existing fees charged by the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions are deducted.
Funding water quality is a good investment.
Studies of the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes and Everglades have estimated at least a 2:1 benefit to cost ratio for water quality restoration.
In other words, for every dollar spent on water quality improvement, two dollars of benefit, such as economic activity, ecosystem services and increased property values are realized.
The jobs created by restoration activity are often in the high-value STEM professions, and the quality of life in healthy watersheds helps to attract employers and retain employees. For more information, please read the Chesapeake Bay Commission’s Water Rich & Water Wise report online.
The undersigned national, regional, statewide, and local organizations who served as rally co-hosts represent more than 175,000 Pennsylvanians and over 250 organizations restoring Pennsylvania landscapes and watersheds.
Along with our members and supporters, we urge you to consider the devastating impacts that failing to address Pennsylvania’s water crisis will have on our communities, our economies, and the health of your constituents.
During this legislative session and this budget cycle, we call on the state lawmakers to heed the call of the Susquehanna River Rally advocates.
Please reject proposed cuts to the DEP and DCNR budgets, pass and fully fund Growing Greener 3 legislation, and establish a dedicated water quality fund.
With questions or follow up, please email Amanda John at ajohn@npca.org.
Sincerely,
The Susquehanna River Rally Hosts [in Harrisburg on June 17]
The groups signing on to the letter include--
-- Host Committee for Rally: Amanda John, PA Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association; Ezra Thrush, Clean Water Campaign Manager, PennFuture; Nicole Faraguna, Outreach Director, PA Land Trust Association; Marci Mowery, President & CEO, PA Parks and Forests Foundation; Mark Platts, President, Susquehanna Heritage, Inc.; Brook Lenker, President Susquehanna River Trails Association; Chante Coleman, Director, The Choose Clean Water Coalition; Kyle Shenk, Pennsylvania Director, The Conservation Fund; Andrew Heath, Executive Director, The PA Growing Greener Coalition; Tim Herd, President, The PA Parks & Recreation Society.
-- Supporting Organizations: Will Brandau, President, Association of Warm Season Grass Producers; Christopher Clouser, President/Principal, Biologist, Wetlands and Wildlife Habitat BluAcres, LLC; Ed Wytovich, President, Catawissa Creek Restoration Association; Anna Yelk, Executive Director, Central Penn Conservancy; Steve Hvozdovich, PA Campaigns Director, Clean Water Action; Mary Beth Birks, Kids Club Coordinator, Cranberry Township, Butler County; Jaclyn Rhoads, Darby Creek Valley Association; Robert Hughes, Executive Director,
Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation; John H. Rosenfeld, Owner, Go Native Tree Farm, Craig Lukatch-Setser, President, Lacawac Sanctuary & Field Station; Bernie McGurl, Executive Director, Lackawanna River Conservation Association; Joseph J. Corcoran, Executive Director, Lackawanna Heritage Valley; Philip R. Wenger, CEO, Lancaster County Conservancy; Christopher Thompson, District Manager, Lancaster County Conservation District; Ted Evgeniadis, RIVERKEEPER, Lower Susquehanna RIVERKEEPER Association; Melinda Hughes, President, Nature Abounds; Bill Moul, President, North Area Environmental Council, Allegheny County;  William Reichert, President, Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Inc.; Joanne Kilgour, Chapter Director, Sierra Club PA; Kristy Owens, Parks & Recreation Manager, Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County; Scott E. Pepperman, Chairman, Silver Spring Township Recreation Advisory Council, Cumberland County; Gail Kulp, Executive Director, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Paul Garrett, Trails and Trees Environmental Center,  Mechanicsburg Environmental Club, Camp Hill Environmental Club, Green-Cause.org, Cumberland County; Gary Peacock, Executive Director, Watershed Alliance of York, Inc.
Click Here for a complete copy of the letter.

House Committee Meets Thursday Now On Recycling Fee Extension Bill

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is now scheduled to meet THURSDAY to consider Senate Bill 646 (Killion-R-Delaware) would prevent a funding crisis in the state’s Recycling Program by eliminating the expiration date for the Act 101 $2 per ton recycling fee on waste disposed in Pennsylvania.
An amendment is expected to Senate Bill 646 to extend the $2 fee for only one year to January 1, 2021.
Senate Bill 144 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) amending Act 537 ton include alternative on-lot sewage systems in sewage plans (sponsor summary) is also on the agenda.
The meeting will be held in Room 205 Ryan Building off the floor, which means any time after the House convenes Thursday.  The House Republican Caucus website often webcasts committee meetings.
Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by sending email to: jmaher@pahousegop.com.  Rep. Mike Carroll serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by sending email to: mcarroll@pahouse.net.

West Nile Virus Program Announces Positive Mosquito Results In Allegheny County

The Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday announced positive mosquito results for West Nile Virus have been found in Wilkinsburg Borough, Allegheny County.
Other positive mosquito results have been found in these other counties this season-- Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Delaware, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Manchester and Schuylkill.
[Note: The budget passed by House Republicans in April cut West Nile/Zika Virus Control funding by $338,000.  House Republicans increased the Black Fly spraying line item by $100,000 (the ONLY item not cut in DEP's budget).  Black Flies are annoying on golf courses and at outdoor events, but don't spread disease.]
For more information on the West Nile Virus prevention efforts in Pennsylvania, visit the West Nile Virus website.

Analysis: PA Already Has $65 Million A Year For Clean Water, Just Stop Giving Money To Folks Like Johnny Depp

While the political fight is running hot and heavy to adopt a new natural gas severance tax or new fees on this or that to fund programs, no one has noticed there is a $65 million a year solution to fund Pennsylvania’s environmental and clean water restoration projects right under their noses.
It doesn’t involve enacting any new taxes or fees.
There’s no need to go into debt to float a state bond.
There’s no increase in the state budget.
And it doesn’t involve enacting any Rube Goldberg-type contraption of a program that robs Peter to pay Paul who owes Mary.
We also already have the program to deliver the new funding.
All legislators have to do is stop giving money to the movie and TV industry to temporarily support people like Johnny Depp and invest the same amount in permanent clean water improvements.
In FY 2017-18 state government plans to spend $65 million to give money to movie companies for one-time projects that support Johnny Depp and his ilk and movies like Zack and Miri Make A Porno (really).
Why would Republicans do that?
The answer is, I don’t have a clue.
Despite repeated media reports on how the Film Production Tax Credit Program is a waste of money because the movie folks sell 99 percent of the tax credits to someone else and the number of permanent jobs it yields is actually tiny for the money spent every year, Republicans keep funding it year after year and want more.
The Independent Fiscal Office concluded in a 2016 report Pennsylvania receives loses 86 cents for every dollar invested in the Film Tax Credit Program.
In these difficult budget times, tough decisions have to be made, although this one seems easy.
Pennsylvania has legal obligations to cleanup 19,000 miles of its polluted rivers and streams, is under the gun to meet its Chesapeake Bay Watershed cleanup obligations, has 180,000 acres of abandoned mines and 5,000 miles of mine-polluted streams, thousands of leaking and abandoned oil and gas wells, a backlog of local and state recreation projects and tens of thousands of acres of valuable farmland and open space threatened by development.
To deliver this funding, no new program is needed.  
The Growing Greener Program has been providing funding in all these areas since 1999 and has a track record of success unmatched by any other environmental program.
Should the state give away $65 million a year to support temporary movie projects involving folks like Johnny Depp and movies about how to make a porno?  
Or will legislators support permanent improvements by farmers and communities that want to make their environment cleaner and better?
How about it.  Will the folks in the General Assembly be able to make this tough decision or not?  
And they don’t really have to do much to put in place one of the most significant investments in restoring Pennsylvania’s environment in history.
All it takes is real leadership.
NewsClip:

Delaware River Basin Commission Releases 2016 Annual Report

The Delaware River Basin Commission Wednesday released its 2016 annual report highlighting ongoing efforts to manage the water resources of the 13,539-square-mile Delaware River Basin that provides drinking water for an estimated 15 million people.
This year’s report focuses on “Clean Water by the Numbers” emphasizing the efforts and results of the commission and its staff of engineers, aquatic biologists, geologists, modelers, planners, and others to provide clean and sustainable water resources throughout the Delaware River Basin.
“Measuring changes to water quality can be complex,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini.  “In 2016, we saw a continuation of DRBC-driven water quality improvements throughout the basin.”
Among the highlights in the report--
-- 76,423 water quality data points made available to public;
-- 76 percent reduction in PCBs in top ten NPDES permittees since 2005; and
-- 33.5 billion gallons of water in reservoirs managed by DRBC.
For example, in watersheds that drain to the basin’s Special Protection Waters (from Hancock, N.Y. to Trenton, N.J.), DRBC’s goal is no measurable change to existing water quality except toward natural conditions.  
DRBC’s monitoring and assessment programs confirmed in a report published in 2016 that the Lower Delaware – a 76-mile stretch of the river extending from just below the Delaware Water Gap at Portland, Pa./Columbia, N.J. to Trenton – not only met the no measurable change water quality objective, but showed reductions in nutrient pollution at most sites.  
“Our annual report highlights these improvements along with many other DRBC programs that we employ to effectively manage our shared water resources in the basin,” said Tambini.
Click Here to read the annual report and watch short supporting videos.

23 Environmental Ed Centers In PA, DE, NJ Form New Alliance To Engage On Delaware River Watershed

During a press conference at Fairmount Water Works in Philadelphia Wednesday, 23 environmental education centers from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey announced a new Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River to increase awareness of the importance of the Delaware River watershed, a 13,500 square mile system that provides drinking water for 15 million people.
The Alliance will offer the public opportunities to explore, enjoy and engage in activities on their local waterways with the ultimate goal of advancing protection of this critical resource.  
Collectively, the centers offer opportunities for more than 180,000 visitors annually to enjoy nature and learn about the environment through hands-on activities along their local rivers and streams.
Through shared expertise and resources, the Alliance will reach new audiences and amplify the work already underway at the centers.
“The hundreds of small waterways that combine to form the Delaware River watershed connect amazing communities and majestic natural resources from Southern New York to Delaware Bay. People care about the stream that they’ve grown up next to,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation. “That’s why the National Wildlife Federation and hundreds of conservation partners across the region are joining forces to launch this Alliance to help a diverse range of local voices speak up and be heard in their support for clean water. With federal funding for natural resources threatened and key regulations keeping our water clean at risk of being dismantled, we must rally our communities to form a strong base of clean water advocates, creating change from the bottom up. Together, we can more effectively generate a sense of ownership among communities for their local and regional wildlife and water.”
The 23 centers that form the Alliance are all physically connected by the Circuit Trails, the Greater Philadelphia region’s 750-mile multi-use trail network, and trails that connect throughout the entire watershed.
Using their centers and nearby trails as assets, the Alliance will create and collectively deliver fun, engaging programs to this untapped audience of thousands of visitors on the Delaware River and its tributaries.
“We’re excited about the potential for the Alliance for Watershed Education to enable each of these 23 environmental centers to even more effectively reach the thousands of people who already participate in their excellent local programs,” said Andrew Johnson, watershed protection program director for the William Penn Foundation. “In addition, because of their location on the Circuit Trails, these centers also have an opportunity to engage thousands of people who use the trails along many of our rivers and streams in programming, building a new constituency for protection of clean water among these outdoor enthusiasts.”
A major investment of more than $4.6 million from the William Penn Foundation helped to launch this nationally significant model.
The new initiative will enable the centers to develop shared programming targeted at people of diverse ages and backgrounds with a common interest in exploring and enjoying the waterways within the Delaware River watershed.
The network’s early momentum has already secured funding from a new source, with the hope that it will continue to attract other funding; the Alliance recently received a grant from the PA Department of Environmental Protection to expand existing watershed education curriculum developed by the Fairmount Water Works for middle schoolers in Philadelphia to different parts of the watershed, including Reading and Allentown, Pa.
Programs Underway
The 23 environmental centers hosted their initial joint program, a series of “River Days” events, in the fall of 2016 to celebrate the unique rivers and streams within the Delaware River watershed.
More than 10,000 people were engaged in the month-long series of events. River Days will kick off its second year in September 2017. A schedule of planned events can be found here.
For its second major collaborative effort, the Alliance has introduced an Environmental Fellowship Program in which each center will host a summer fellow between the ages of 18 and 24 to manage community outreach and programs.  
The fellows will focus on communities that are underserved or underrepresented, providing them with opportunities to enjoy and care for their local river or stream.  
“The Environmental Fellowship Program is a promising way to engage young adults, many without any previous environmental training or education, in conservation efforts,” said Karen Young, executive director, Fairmount Water Works. “To ensure clean water for the future, it’s important for conservationists to mobilize the next generation. The summer fellowship program leverages the potential for these young people to become ambassadors for clean water and learn how they can involve local communities in contributing to the health of the watershed.”
For more information, visit the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River website.

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