April 2024

Hello partners for water quality!

We have much news to share on progress by state, local, and sector partners to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution and improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s share of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
For more details on the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan and Countywide Action Planning, visit the Phase 3 WIP website. For a broader educational look at nutrient and sediment pollution in local streams, rivers, and lakes in the watershed, including tips and success stories, visit Healthy Waters, Healthy Communities.
Please consider how you might join in or help support this work. Check out each county’s Phase 3 WIP Countywide Action plan and make connections with your county team! And please share this newsletter with your networks and encourage them to subscribe to our monthly newsletter!.

  — DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management

DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management (BWRNSM)

Pennsylvania’s Updated Fertilizer Law Saves Pennsylvanians Money and Protects the Environment

PDA Secretary Russell Redding and DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management (BWRNSM) Bureau Director Jill Whitcomb joined members of the General Assembly, associations, and businesses at Cashman's Hardware Store in Adams County to promote Pennsylvania's updated fertilizer law and PDA's consumer education campaign to help residents manage their lawn care in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way.
“The agriculture community has long balanced the need for production with the need for environmental stewardship,” said Secretary Redding. “By expanding this responsibility to all who are using and applying fertilizer, we are creating healthier soils and water in the Commonwealth, while promoting an economic savings that can be realized through reviewing and understanding nutrient management.”
The revisions to the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law, signed by Governor Shapiro in 2023, brings new responsibilities to homeowners and residents who apply fertilizer to their lawns, ensures clearer fertilizer labels to help homeowners understand fertilizer needs and avoid costly over-application, and keeps Pennsylvania on track to meet Chesapeake Bay goals.
“Excess nutrient runoff from fertilizers can lead to increased levels of nitrates in drinking water and can harm fish and aquatic life in streams and lakes,” DEP BWRNSM Director Jill Whitcomb explained. “These enhancements made to the Fertilizer Law will help residents throughout Pennsylvania improve their local waters, as well as those that flow in the Ohio River, the Delaware River, and the Chesapeake Bay.” 

PA Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading at the podium. Jill Whitcomb, Director of the Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management, at the podium. A flyer displays information on fertilizer.
PDA Secretary Redding and BWRNSM Director Whitcomb delivered remarks. A flyer displays information promoting proper nutrient management for lawns.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Growing Greener Plus and Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant Rounds Open!

DEP opened Growing Greener Plus Watershed Restoration Grants and Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grants on April 22. The application period closes on June 21, 2024. There are several new grant features this round:
Growing Greener Plus
Section 319 Nonpoint Source
  • Section 319 WIP revisions or updates to existing WIPs that are at least eight years or older are encouraged to apply. New Section 319 WIP development applications are no longer an eligible project category.
  • Preference will be given to Section 319 WIP implementation projects in Pennsylvania’s Environmental Justice Areas.

Shapiro Administration and Partners Celebrate Turtle Creek Watershed Stream Restoration, Investments, and Water Quality Improvements

The PA DEP, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) joined the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), Senator Gene Yaw, Senator Scott Martin, the U.S. EPA, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Conservancy to celebrate portions of the Turtle Creek watershed in southeastern Union County being removed, or “delisted” from the federal Clean Water Act impaired waters list. Stream delisting and improving water quality in Pennsylvania is a long-term goal for the Shapiro Administration, including in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Union County Conservation District hosted attendees for an informational session on Turtle Creek watershed projects through an innovative block grant model using Growing Greener and other funds and leaders discussed the importance of investing in local water quality. The stream partnership has continued its ongoing commitment to Turtle Creek with a stream restoration, riparian buffer – plants that help protect the stream habitat – and pollinator habitat project at Turtle Creek Park in East Buffalo Township. More information about the ongoing Turtle Creek restoration effort can be viewed on the interactive story map.

A portion of Turtle Creek lacking vegetation. Livestock wading through a portion of Turtle Creek. Roadway and farmfields around Turtle Creek.
Issues affecting Turtle Creek included lack of vegetation along the stream, direct livestock access to the stream, and runoff creating erosion issues.
Heavy equipment performs work along the stream. Log structures placed within the stream channel.
An example of some of the restoration work in progress (left) and completed work (right) to improve stream water quality through the use of log-and-rock structures to direct flow back to the center of the stream, create habitat and protective habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates, and direct suspended sediments (soil dissolved in the water) to drop out and deposit behind the structures.
A view of the Turtle Creek restoration project.
Click the image to view a video of the Turtle Creek Stream Restoration.

Clean Water Progress Teams Meet to Review Small Groups’ Progress

The Clean Water Progress Teams continued their work in April as part of the process to develop robust recommendations around priority action items generated at the fall 2023 Clean Water Gathering of state program and county action leaders. This latest round of meetings highlighted the timeline and expectations for deliverables and focused on further defining and advancing efforts on their action items.
Each of the three Progress Teams are addressing five different priority action items. They will create recommended “strategies for success” around each item. The recommendations are being drafted by focused small sub-groups of each Progress Team, and will be vetted by the larger Progress Team throughout summer 2024. Recommendations will discuss what should be done to address the action item, who should be engaged, how steps should be taken to move forward, and when that should occur.
The recommendations will be finalized in fall 2024, and the “strategies for success” will be shared among a broader audience at a follow up, second Clean Water Gathering of partners in December 2024, with the goal of discussing next steps for “who, what, where, when, why and how” the strategies for success could be implemented in 2025 and beyond. These strategies will be included in Pennsylvania’s Phase 3 WIP milestone progress submitted to EPA in January 2025.
Funding and Multi-Grant Coordination Progress Team has identified and is focusing on these five priority action items:
  • Common portal: Common portal with a common application/letter of intent concept to reduce administrative burdens related to applications for funding and other program reporting requirements.
  • Create funding spreadsheet: Create a central funding spreadsheet as a funding support tool to provide funding options for projects.
  • Better communication: Leveraging and more efficiently communicating available funding sources and requirements of those funding sources.
  • Financing center: Creating a center to provide outreach and education about financing.
  • Connecting the dots: Connect projects with funding sources through education sessions and a “funding network” comprised of individuals within multiple agencies to collaborate on complex projects to piece together funding streams.
Staff Building and Staff Retention Progress Team has identified and is focusing on these five priority action items:
  • Training: Make management and leadership training available.
  • Diversify staff hires: Hire staff with different backgrounds, not all science and technical degrees.
  • Regionalization of staff: Especially for smaller conservation districts and planning commissions.
  • Cross train staff: Build on employee knowledge to keep districts/programs running when turnover happens.
  • Dedicated funding: Allocate dedicated annual funding to counties to stabilize and assure steady workload for staff. Funding is needed for more administrative/program staffing to help manage all of the grants.
Technical and Administrative Progress Team has identified and is focusing on these five priority action items:
  • Improve Private/Public partnerships: Creating a list of common elements of successful multi-partner private/public partnerships.
  • Project management tool: Create a project prioritization and timeline management knowledge transfer tool to share project information accessible to other county partners.
  • Engineering assistance: Increase the availability of engineering assistance – first step is a gap assessment to evaluate and clarify the need for more engineering.
  • Streamline and centralize reporting: For conservation districts and other practice reporters.
  • Create a block permitting application.

Larson Design Group Technical Assistance Program

Larson Design Group, Inc. (LDG) has been retained by DEP to provide technical services for project implementation to assist Pennsylvania in reaching its clean water goals. Examples of projects that can be completed utilizing technical assistance services include, but are not limited to, stormwater, agriculture, wastewater, and aquatic resource restoration.
LDG is accepting project assistance requests from county Conservation Districts to provide technical services for projects focusing on nutrient and sediment reduction through May 17, 2024, with announcement of service awards anticipated on May 24, 2024. Examples of services that can be provided through the program include permitting, site survey, inventory and evaluation, project engineering and design, construction inspection, and project coordination. LDG will provide technical services to assist with project implementation in two county groupings. Questions regarding this program should be directed to LDG at TAP@LarsonDesignGroup.com.
County groupings are as follows:
North Group: Berks, Cameron, Clearfield, Columbia, Elk, Indiana, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, and Potter counties.
South Group: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clinton, Fulton, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Snyder, Somerset, and Union counties.

Programs and Projects by Local, State and Federal Partners

Chesapeake Bay Partners Celebrate Passage of Maryland’s Whole Watershed Act

On April 4, 2024, Maryland’s state legislature passed the Whole Watershed Act. This legislation was predicated on the success in precision conservation and rapid stream delisting done in Pennsylvania. The Whole Watershed Act promotes innovative, science-based approaches to waterway restoration efforts and is a direct response to conclusions in the 2023 Comprehensive Evaluation of System Response (CESR) report—an evaluation of water quality progress for the Chesapeake Bay.
The legislation will utilize existing state funds to create a five-year pilot program targeting five Maryland watersheds that best represent the state’s diverse land uses, geographies, and impairments. The pilot projects will deliver not only water quality improvements but also specific co-benefits like increased public access to waterways, wildlife habitat, fisheries improvement, and climate change resiliency.
The Chesapeake Conservancy marked this important legislative development saying, “Protecting and restoring rivers and streams are essential to saving the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Whole Watershed Act will prove to be a significant piece of legislation passed for the Bay. Chesapeake Conservancy is incredibly optimistic because we know this partnership and data-based approach will work. We’ve seen it work with our neighbors to the north, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Starting in 2019, partners in Pennsylvania, including local, state, and federal governments; conservation districts; nonprofits; universities; and others, envisioned a rapid stream delisting program to make the most of limited resources using high-resolution hydrography data.
These partners are now working across 57 streams in seven Pennsylvania counties, and tangible results are on the horizon. Pennsylvania’s 2024 Integrated Water Quality Report shows the delisting of several streams designated as agriculturally impaired per section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.

Shapiro Administration Invests $8.07 Million to Protect Pennsylvania Farms from Future Development

On April 11, 2024, the Shapiro Administration announced that Pennsylvania will purchase development rights for 2,250 acres on 28 farms in 15 counties, forever protecting them from residential or commercial development. The farms, approved for conservation easement purchases by the State Agricultural Land Preservation Board, represent an $8.07 million investment to ensure that Pennsylvania farmers will have prime farmland in the future.
The Commonwealth partners with counties, local governments and nonprofits to purchase development rights, ensuring a strong future for farming and food security. By selling their land's development rights, farm owners ensure that their farms will remain productive farms and never be sold to developers.
Pennsylvania leads the nation in preserved farmland. Since 1988, when voters overwhelmingly supported creation of the Farmland Preservation Program, Pennsylvania has protected 6,364 farms and 636,625 acres in 58 counties from future development, investing more than $1.7 billion in state, county, and local funds.
Counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed included in this most recent round of preservation through the purchase of development rights include Adams, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Tioga, Union, and York.

Shapiro Administration Honors 22 Projects Statewide with 2024 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence

DEP announced on April 15, 2024, that 22 projects across Pennsylvania completed by schools, businesses, and community organizations were honored with the 2024 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. Applications were evaluated for their degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice, as well as outcomes achieved. Staff in DEP’s Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management (BWRNSM) were directly involved in working with the awardees of two of these projects (highlighted below) to ensure their success:
East Buffalo Township
The Turtle Creek Park Acquisition and Restoration project partnered with the Union County Conservation Department, DEP, Fish and Boat Commission, and Bucknell University students to complete major stream restoration on Turtle Creek. The project restored space in a local park with enhanced recreational opportunities, pollinator habitat, and riparian buffer improvements.
Larson Design Group
The Desktop BMP (Best Management Practices) Analysis with Non-Intrusive Field Verification project developed a remote sensing based agricultural BMP methodology to collect Resource Improvement Practices that were completed and not accounted for within the Chesapeake Bay model. The program makes data collections more uniform and time efficient. This project was an excellent example of the collaborative nature and positive outcomes of a public-private partnership.

A view of Turtle Creek after restoration work.
A view of Turtle Creek after restoration work was completed.

Shapiro Administration Announces $274 Million in Water Quality Improvement Projects

On April 24, 2024, the Shapiro Administration announced the investment of $274 million for 30 drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and nonpoint source projects across 22 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). The projects include replacing lead or other corrosive pipes, rehabilitating aging systems, upgrading service capabilities, extending service to more communities, and reducing environmental contaminants through compliance with current regulatory levels and agricultural BMPs.
The funding for these projects originates from a combination of state funds approved by voters, Growing Greener funds, Marcellus Legacy funds, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) stimulus funds, the federal grant awards to PENNVEST from the U.S. EPA under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, and the recycled loan repayments from previous PENNVEST funding awards.
Those counties included in the announcement that are within the Chesapeake Bay watershed include Blair, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Indiana, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Tioga, Wayne, and York.

Multiple Pennsylvania Projects Receive Grant Funding for Nutrient and Sediment Reduction

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and EPA announced 17 projects selected for the 2023 round of Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction funding. These projects were awarded $16 million and collectively leveraged $20.8 million in match from the grantees for a total conservation impact of $36.8 million. The use of these funds will accelerate the implementation of water quality improvements specifically through the collaborative and coordinated efforts of sustainable, regional-scale partnerships and networks of practitioners with a shared focus on water quality restoration and protection. The following five award recipients will be working within Pennsylvania for nutrient and sediment reduction and received over $4.7 million in funding:
  • Capital Region Water - "Building Community Partnerships to Inform Green Infrastructure Improvements in Harrisburg Parks"
  • Lancaster Farmland Trust - "Scaling Farmland Preservation and Water Quality Improvements Across Lancaster County"
  • Stroud Water Research Center -"Advancing Soil Health Partnerships and Implementation Tools in PA"
  • Sustainable Chesapeake -"Leveraging Supply Chain Partnerships to Advance Agricultural Conservation Initiatives"
  • Western PA Conservancy -"Accelerating Riparian Forest Restoration and Community Forestry Programs in Central PA"

Flooding Resources and Recovery Considerations

Pennsylvania has the highest stream density of any state in the country, making flooding a substantial concern in many communities. Two online mapping tools from federal agencies can help in understanding streamflow and flooding status. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) maintains the National Water Dashboard featuring data from over 11,000 stream gauges across the country measuring stream heights, flow rates, and even water quality in some areas. The maps show currently flooding streams, streamflow status, and even rainfall amounts. The National Weather Service, in charge of issuing flood advisories and warnings, maintains the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service. They feature similar information to USGS’s maps, but also allow the user to click on specific streams to view flood action stages and flood predictions.
If barnyards have been flooded, installing proper spouting to divert roof water away from the barnyard can help future flooding and keep clean water clean. If polluted water is still leaving the barnyard, it can be directed to flow over a grassed area where remaining nutrient pollution can be filtered out or flow can be directed to a manure pit when a liquid manure pit is close by.

The flooded Cowanesque River.
The flooded Cowanesque River, Tioga County, PA (Provided by Craig Williams, Penn State).

Increased Drought and Flooding Risk for Pennsylvania

Several different factors are contributing to an increase in flooding. Heavy downpours are increasing nationally due to climate change, especially over the last three to five decades. These events have become heavier and more frequent, and the amount of rain falling on the heaviest rain days has also increased.
An increase in paved and developed surfaces is also contributing to the problem. Homes, businesses, roadways, and parking lots all prevent water from soaking into the soils the way it would in a forest or meadow. Even lawns prevent most rainwater from soaking into the ground because they have been so compacted during development. Between 1990 and 2007, developed surfaces associated with new single-family homes were estimated to have increased about 34 percent across the Chesapeake Bay. At that same time, the region's population only increased by 18 percent.
Additionally, Pennsylvania's aging communities contribute to flooding. Many towns and cities have systems in place that are well over 100 years old. When they were designed and installed, people had no idea what volumes of stormwater would need to be addressed in the future.
Between storms, droughts can occur – defined as any time when plant growth, specifically crop growth, is negatively impacted by a lack of water. Both floods and droughts can occur in the same year and negatively impact crop yield within the same growing season. Drought and flood resiliency can be built into crop fields and pastures. No-till, cover crops, the use of perennials, crop rotation, and rotational grazing in pastures have all been shown to increase a field’s rate of water infiltration. Streamside tree plantings and wetland conservation can also help protect land against flood waters and prevent further flooding downstream of a field. 

A cornfield showing signs of erosion.
Runoff from a corn field after a large rain event (Provided by Tyler Groh, Penn State).

Funding Available Now

Funding for Watershed Protection Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Watershed Restoration and Protection Program (WRPP) is currently accepting applications through May 31, 2024. The overall goal of the WRPP is to restore and maintain restored stream reaches impaired by the uncontrolled discharge of nonpoint source polluted runoff and ultimately to remove these streams from DEP’s Impaired Waters list. Eligible projects for funding are those that involve the construction, improvement, expansion, repair, maintenance, or rehabilitation of new or existing watershed protection BMPs.

Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Available 

U.S. EPA’s new Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants program announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for approximately $2 billion in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds to support environmental and climate justice activities benefitting disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. These place-based investments will be focused on community-driven initiatives to be responsive to community and stakeholder input. They are designed to deliver on the transformative potential of the IRA for communities most adversely and disproportionately impacted by climate change, legacy pollution, and historical disinvestments. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The deadline to apply is November 21, 2024.

Funding to Help Farmers Advance Conservation and Climate-Smart Agriculture

USDA announced $1.5 billion in funding for partner-drive conservation and climate solutions through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Project proposals that help farmers and forest landowners adopt and expand conservation strategies to enhance natural resources while tackling the climate crisis are currently being accepted through July 2, 2024.
This investment in conservation and climate solutions is offered through two RCPP programs: RCPP Classic and RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (RCPP AFA). RCPP Classic projects are implemented using NRCS contracts and easements with producers, landowners, and communities in collaboration with project partners. Through RCPP AFA, the lead partner works directly with agricultural producers to support the development of innovative conservation approaches that would not otherwise be available under RCPP Classic. The 2024 RCPP funding priorities are climate-smart agriculture, urban agriculture, conservation, and environmental justice. NRCS encourages proposals led by historically underserved entities.

Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program Requesting Proposals

The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will award grants to voluntarily restore and sustain healthy forests, rivers and streams that provide habitat for diverse native bird and aquatic species populations. Approximately $3.5 million is available this year. Full proposals are due on July 18, 2024.

The overall goal of the program is to improve the quality and connectivity of forest and freshwater habitat to increase the distribution and abundance of birds, fish and other wildlife, as evidenced by a suite of species that collectively are indicators of forest and freshwater habitat condition. The program aims to:
  • Improve the voluntarily management of public and private forestlands to create blocks with a mosaic of mixed-aged forests that support a diversity of bird and wildlife species, especially targeting golden-winged warbler, wood thrush, and cerulean warbler; and
  • Improve stream health by voluntarily removing passage barriers, restoring riparian buffers, and improving water quality and hydrology to bolster populations of brook trout, eastern hellbender and freshwater mussels.
Applicants are encouraged to deploy a range of strategies to engage public and private landowners in active stewardship through technical and financial assistance, demonstrations, education and outreach, and other innovative approaches.

Map of the Central Applachia Habitat Stewardship Program boundaries.
The Central Appalachia Habitat Stewardship Program will award grants within the program boundary on the map at right. Priority will be given to projects within the focal geographies shown in orange within the map.

Counties in Action

Adams County Kicks Off 2024 Countywide Action Plan (CAP) Season and Holds Tree Distribution Event

Adams County has begun their 2024 CAP season in earnest with completion of the first of their CAP projects on March 29. The project featured installation of a 2.5-acre riparian buffer including tree plantings, live staking, and meadow plantings along Marsh Creek in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the Gettysburg Municipal Authority. The Adams County Conservation District also held a tree distribution event the weekend of April 20, where they distributed over 8,500 trees to landowners across the county. Additionally, permits are underway for multiple summer stream restoration projects, and work has begun on lining up future CAP projects.

Amos Herr Park Gets a Facelift

This past March, the wetlands at Amos Herr Park in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, were expanded where there were once maintenance challenges and occasional flooding issues. This project was initiated around 2011, due to stormwater management concerns. The project involved a collaboration between David Miller/Associations (DM/A) and LandStudies, Inc. By 2022, with multiple funding sources available, plans were drawn to expand the wetlands, re-grade sections, install trail pathways, and naturalize the land. With a CAP gratn secured, the Township commenced work in Spring 2023.
Led by Charity Hain of DM/A, the project alleviated flooding by increasing water storage capacity and reducing maintenance needs. Over subsequent months, the wetlands were widened, streambanks reinforced, and pathways installed, enhancing both ecological and recreational value. The project demonstrates a successful blend of environmental stewardship and community engagement, benefitting both local wildlife and park visitors.
“The catchment is so large that nothing would solve the issue of how much water flows through here, but the wetland expansion alleviated the flooding issue for the Township in that they are not specifically trying to mow and maintain a wet grass area anymore,” Hain said of the project. “The grading development allows for a lot more storage of water than was previously available.”

Wetland with trees and fields at Amos Herr Park.
The wetland at Amos Herr Park (Photo provided by Lancaster Clean Water Partners).

Cumberland County Conservation District Completes Stuart Park Project

On April 10, 2024, Cumberland County Conservation District held a tour of Stuart Park in Dickinson Township, showing stream and restoration work. The project was funded through the PACD Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention Educational Mini-grant Program.
The project also included installing an educational sign that broadcasts the benefits of the stream bank and riparian restoration that took place at Stuart Park. The 2022 restoration project repaired 810 feet of Yellow Breeches Creek. The sign will continue to educate thousands of park visitors for years to come.

A woman points at an informative display in a park.
Lori Glace, former Cumberland County Conservation District Watershed Specialist shows the sign to participants during the tour (Photo provided by Cumberland County Conservation District).

Mira Lloyd Dock Awards go to Lancaster Residents

The 2023 Mira Lloyd Dock Partnership Diversity Awards, presented by the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, celebrated the exceptional efforts of Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager, from Lancaster, and twin sisters Keisha and Tarsha Scovens, from Lancaster and Philadelphia respectively, for their commendable work in conservation and environmental justice within marginalized communities.
Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager, a longstanding resident of Lancaster City, has been a steadfast advocate for trees, organizing tree plantings and supporting initiatives to address environmental disparities in underserved areas. Yoder-Bontrager's passion for trees drove her to initiate tree plantings and involve her community in conservation efforts.
Inspired by a transformative camping trip, the Scovens sisters founded Let’s Go Outdoors (LGO), aiming to engage diverse youth and adults in Lancaster and Philadelphia with environmental education and outdoor activities. LGO seeks to bridge the gap between urban and natural environments, offering under-represented communities outdoor experiences and watershed education.
According to Partnership manager Joe Hallinan, the awards highlight individuals who demonstrate initiative, compassion, and dedication to enhancing water quality and community welfare in environmental justice communities. Both Yoder-Bontrager and the Scovens sisters exemplify unwavering commitment to environmental justice and community empowerment, leaving a lasting impact on their communities' well-being and environmental conservation endeavors.

Photo of three women - the award winners.
Mira Lloyd Dock Partnership Diversity Award recipients Marlisa Yoder-Bontrager and Keisha and Tarsha Scovens. 

Franklin County Conservation District REVs Up for NEW Livestock Exclusion Program.

The Franklin County Conservation District (FCCD) recently launched a new livestock exclusion program, called the “Restore. Exclude. Vegetate.” (REV) program. REV offers 100% cost-share for livestock exclusion practices to landowners in the Antietam Creek watershed with streamside pastureland. Following project implementation, the program partners, the Antietam Watershed Association (AWA), will provide pre- and post-construction water quality monitoring upstream and downstream from each project site. The AWA will measure nitrate, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity, among other water quality parameters.
Eligible practices for this program include:
  • Exclusion fencing
  • Off-stream livestock watering facilities
  • Livestock crossings
  • Forest or grass buffers
  • Stream restoration
Funded by a Conservation Excellence Grant Public Private Partnerships/Special Projects award from the State Conservation Commission, the purpose of the program is to remove livestock from water resources and repair stream corridors degraded by livestock access, reducing nutrient and sediment loading to the Antietam Creek and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay.
For more details about the REV program, contact Jennifer Bratthauar at jbratthauar@franklinccd.org or call 717-264-5499.

Farmers listening to a presenter in a conference room.
FCCD kickoff meeting for a new livestock exclusion program on March 21, 2024 at the Quincy Community Center. All meeting attendees were offered a free soil health test, courtesy of FCCD.

Lycoming County Brown Farm Fish Habitat Project

A collaborative effort between the Lycoming County Conservation District (LCCD), PA Fish and Boat Commission, and the Lycoming County Planning Commission, resulted in a transformative bank stabilization project at the Brown Farm in Franklin Township, Lycoming County. The project, funded by a CAP Implementation grant, also enhanced fish habitat along the waterway of Laurel Run, a tributary of Little Muncy Creek, in Lycoming County. Multiple BMPs were employed, including mudsill cribbing, single log vanes, and log deflectors. With the support of the USDA and NCRS, a 9.0-acre Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) buffer was also planted in a former pasture. This comprehensive approach not only stabilized the banks, but also helped further the restoration and conservation efforts in the area.
Through the combined efforts of multiple stakeholders, significant strides have been made in enhancing fish habitat, mitigating nitrogen levels to improve water quality, and transforming a former pasture into a CREP buffer. This project not only demonstrates LCCD’s collective commitment to environmental stewardship but also underscores the effectiveness of collaborative approaches in achieving sustainable outcomes.

Laurel Run stream flowing by fields and trees. Laurel Run stream flowing through fields and planted trees. A field with planted trees and a barn in the background.
Laurel Run (left and center pictures) and a former pasture now serving as a CREP buffer.

"We are proud to showcase the significant accomplishments made to improve Turtle Creek and the surrounding watershed. Restoring water quality and habitat while maintaining the watershed as a working agricultural landscape was no small undertaking, and it is yielding incredible results. The Turtle Creek watershed is a prime example of how strong partnerships, innovation, and sustained and strategic investments have restored local streams. This success would not have been possible without our state and local agency partners, including the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and county conservation districts. Together, we’ll restore more streams and protect more watersheds across Pennsylvania.”


                     - Jessica Shirley, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101