February 2023

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. Anyone interested in their county’s Phase 3 WIP County Wide Action plan can sign up to get involved. And help spread the word! Share this newsletter or the subscribe page.  
— DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management

DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management

DEP’s Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management (BWRNSM) adapting roles to further support local county partners

The BWRNSM has expanded and is in the process of hiring the full complement of Watershed Managers and Conservation District Field Representatives (CDFRs) who are based in each of DEP’s regional offices. Within the Chesapeake Bay portion of the state, these Watershed Managers and CDFRs will join the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Restoration Division CAP Project Advisors in supporting the counties as they implement their CAPs.
These positions play an important role in supporting the counties. With widespread, on the ground knowledge of progress taking place within the county, the Watershed Managers and CDFRs are a key partner in this process. An essential role of the Watershed Manager is to connect counties to local technical assistance, as well as assisting county partners in connecting with potential partners. Using both grant management experience and community connections, Watershed Managers are an essential resource for county partners when looking to secure new grant funding sources and implement projects. CDFR’s provided support during the development of the CAPs and have continued this support through county CAP implementation. CDFRs assisted in the development, monitoring and achievement of realistic goals in the CAPs. Being a liaison between the BWRNSM is an essential role that CDFR’s continue to play in the CAP process now that the counties are in the implementation phase.

DEP's BWRNSM Chesapeake Bay Watershed Restoration Division hosts Source Water Protection webinar 

On February 1, BWRNSM’s Bay Division hosted a “Source Water Protection Webinar Wednesday” for its county action planning partners. The webinar provided an overview of how source water protection can play an integral part of improving water quality within a watershed and how it can intersect with Countywide Action Plans (CAPs). Presenters included Jamie Shallenberger (Susquehanna River Basin Commission), Rupert Rossetti (Octoraro Watershed Association), Alexandra Neumann (Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay), Calvin Yahn (EPA Region 3), and Mike LaSala (LandStudies). Each presenter approached the topic from multiple perspectives, resulting in a well-rounded overview of how source water protection can successfully intersect with CAPs and future watershed protection planning. Over 60 state and county partners attended the webinar and contributed to robust discussion during question and answer sessions. Connections were also made to support future collaboration between the Lancaster CAP Team and the Octoraro Watershed Association. 

Programs and Projects by Local, State and Federal Partners

Public Comment period open for draft Pennsylvania Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) Manual 

The draft Pennsylvania Post-Construction Stormwater Management (PCSM) Manual is open for a 90-day public comment period (January 28-April 28, 2023), and the associated Pennsylvania Bulletin notice provides an overview of the draft manual. Anyone is welcome to submit written comments during the public comment period. Submitting written comments through DEP’s eComment website is the most efficient way to do so. 

Draft Guidance for the new Clean Water Procurement Program is available

PENNVEST is seeking public comment on the draft guidance for the Clean Water Procurement Program prior to approval at their April 19, 2023, Board meeting. The Clean Water Procurement Program is part of the Clean Streams Fund, with $22 million available from COVID-ARPA to invest in a “pay for performance” program. The guidelines were developed based on the language in the 2022-2023 Fiscal Code (Act 54) as well as in consultation with DEP and the State Conservation Commission.

Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) awards over $65,000 for nonpoint source mini-grant program to conservation districts

Pennsylvania’s county conservation districts were awarded over $65,000 for 37 pollution reduction projects in 28 counties that educate citizens on water pollution prevention. Thirteen CAP counties are represented in the award. Projects are awarded through PACD’s Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution Prevention Educational Mini-Grant Program, which is funded through DEP’s Section 319 program, administered by EPA. The projects will take place over the next 15 months. A summary sheet provides more detail for each funded project.

PACD releases Highlights of Conservation District Activities in 2022

The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) is pleased to provide the Highlights of Conservation District Activities in 2022. This report showcases progress each county has made over the past year. PACD also released a YouTube video explaining the role conservation districts play in preserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources.

DCNR and WPC seeking a Regional Watershed Forestry Specialist for the Central Region

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s (WPC) watershed conservation program, in cooperation with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry, is seeking a Regional Watershed Forestry Specialist to work within Pennsylvania’s Central Region (Clinton, Lycoming, Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Union, Montour, Columbia, Northumberland and Snyder counties). The position does require extensive travel within the assigned region. Please see the full job description and application instructions to apply for the position. 

DEP’s Clean Water Academy releases legacy sediment case study

DEP has released a case study on its Clean Water Academy designed to introduce the concepts of stream restoration, including evaluating legacy sediments. This publicly available course, Case Study – Legacy Sediment Evaluation at Oil Creek, demonstrates different aspects relating to the legacy sediment impairment at Oil Creek in York County. Historical photographs, maps and soil geology are evaluated, along with the features observed on site. 

    National 303(d) Restoring Our Impaired Waters Webinar Series presents Working Together to Track the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

    A free Working Together to Track the Chesapeake Bay TMDL webinar will be held March 14 and will focus on how partners across the Chesapeake Bay watershed worked together across sectors and political boundaries to develop implementation plans and track progress toward the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. Hear from presenters Olivia Devereux and James Martin about how they used data to engage stakeholders and build partnerships.
    • Olivia Devereux is an environmental scientist with expertise in developing management systems that enhance, maintain, protect, and improve land and water resources. She is the scientific lead in developing CAST, a TMDL planning and tracking tool, and was the scientific lead in developing the first Chesapeake Bay Program Scenario Builder, the system that distributes nutrients to the land and was used to create inputs to the Bay Watershed Model.
    • James Martin is an experienced environmental manager, having served the Commonwealth of Virginia for 25 years in various positions, working predominantly on Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. He has represented Virginia in leadership positions at the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership which includes the Chesapeake Bay Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Bay jurisdictions. 

    Funding Available Now

    National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Pennsylvania Most Effective Basins Grants - 2023 Request for Proposals

    NFWF is soliciting proposals under the Pennsylvania Most Effective Basins (PA‐MEB) grants program for projects that accelerate volunteer implementation of cost-effective agricultural BMPs in selected basins of PA’s Chesapeake Bay watershed. The intent of the PA-MEB program is to assist PA in achieving its 2025 water quality goals for the agricultural sector under the Bay TMDL and PA’s Phase 3 WIP. NFWF will award grants of up to $1,000,000 for projects that result in the direct implementation of eligible agricultural BMPs.
    Proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 27, 2023. NFWF estimates awarding up to $5 million in grants through the PA-MEB program in 2023, contingent on the availability of funding. Major funding comes from the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office.
    All projects must occur wholly within selected basins of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Pennsylvania, identified by EPA as most effective basins (MEB), based on the cost effectiveness of agricultural nitrogen load reduction practices in each basin to positively influence dissolved oxygen in the Bay. Details on EPA’s methodology for selecting MEBs is available, as well as a map of eligible basins for agricultural nitrogen load reduction activities under the PA-MEB program. 

    NFWF is accepting applications for Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Grant Programs

    NFWF, in partnership with EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) partnership, is now soliciting proposals through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to protect and restore water quality and habitats of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams.
    NFWF is soliciting proposals under two distinct programs through this request:
    • Through the Small Watershed Grants (SWG) Program, for projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed that promote voluntary, community-based efforts to protect and restore the diverse and vital habitats of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams.
    • Through the Chesapeake Watershed Investments for Landscape Defense Grants (WILD) Program, for projects that conserve, steward and enhance fish and wildlife habitats and related conservation values in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
    Proposals Due Date: Thursday, April 20, 2023. NFWF is holding an informational webinar for prospective applicants on March 3, 2023. Interested applicants must register in advance in order to participate. NFWF will also record and post the webinar to the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund webpage shortly after its conclusion.

    DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) accepting grant applications 

    DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) is accepting grant applications will through 4:00 PM on April 5, 2023. For more information and to apply, please visit the DCNR Grants Customer Service Portal.
    Information about the C2P2 grant program:

    Coldwater Heritage Partnership now accepting applications for 2023 Coldwater Conservation grants

    The PA Council of Trout Unlimited has announced that the Coldwater Heritage Partnership’s Coldwater Conservation Grant Program is now accepting applications. The deadline to apply is March 10, 2023. Trout Unlimited chapters, watershed associations, conservation districts, conservancies and municipalities are among those eligible to apply. Proposals for planning grants up to $7,500 and implementation grants up to $15,000 will be accepted. Eligible projects include the development of conservation plans for watersheds containing native and/or wild trout populations and on-the-ground conservation projects such as streambank stabilization, in-stream habitat enhancements, streambank fencing, removal of fish passage barriers and other recommendations from previously completed watershed restoration or conservation plans. Successful projects require 1:1 match of cash or in-kind services. Additional information, along with the grant application form, can be found on the Coldwater Heritage Partnership’s Coldwater Conservation Grant Program webpage

    Getting Credit for Our Work

    PA’s 2022 Best Management Practices Submitted to EPA Chesapeake Bay Office

    The BWRNSM Bay Partnership section team, Dr. Barry Evans from Drexel University, and the PA Commonwealth Information Technology (IT) section worked closely with EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) during December and January to produce the numerical Phase 3 WIP 2022 Progress data set of BMPs implemented across PA’s Bay watershed. This progress reporting is entered into the Chesapeake Bay Model and directly attributes to PA’s Bay TMDL goals. The 2022 data set was successfully submitted to EPA on the deadline of February 7, 2023.
    There were several excellent additions to BMP reporting in 2022. BWRNSM collaborated with and added the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as a new data reporter, increasing developed sector stormwater BMP implementation and reporting. DCNR also worked with BWRNSM staff to report tree plantings and forest buffer BMPs. Chesapeake Bay funds were used to expand agriculture BMP verification efforts and reporting into the PracticeKeeper BMP database, leading to an increase in agricultural BMP reporting. The Penn State agriculture survey also provided an additional increase in agriculture BMPs.
    The BWRNSM team appreciates all of the data reporters who continue to report accurate information to reflect the hard work each cost share and regulatory program contributes to improve Pennsylvania’s waterways!

    2023 Quality Assurance Program Plan QAPP Submitted to EPA

    The BWRNSM Bay Partnership section team submitted the 2023 QAPP for Tracking, Verifying and Reporting Nutrient and Sediment Pollutant Load Reducing Practices, Treatments, and Technologies, and the supplemental Primary BMP Source Cost Share / Regulatory Programs Spreadsheet to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) before the February 8, 2023 deadline. The QAPP summarizes procedures used for compiling data on Pennsylvania’s BMP implementation for use by EPA’s CBPO. The information is utilized within the Chesapeake Bay watershed model for the estimation of nutrient and sediment loads generated by different sectors within Pennsylvania’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The updates to the QAPP detail the technical aspects of BMP reporting that focus on responses to the 2022 EPA CBPO evaluation. New this year: the 2023 QAPP clarifies the Pennsylvania Cover Crop Enhancement Project and details on Resource Improvement Practices, including BMP verification and reporting to the PracticeKeeper database. 

    Counties in Action

    Columbia County Conservation District releases 2022 Annual Report

    Columbia County County Conservation District released their 2022 Annual Report, showcasing all the projects and progress made throughout the year. Numerous projects for ag BMPs, streambank restoration/fish habitat, and dirt and gravel and low volume roads were completed. Project highlights include the following Countywide Action Plan (CAP) Grant projects:
    • Dairy calf barnyard at Briar Creek Twp. farm. We were honored to have PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) Secretary Redding tour this project while he was in the county this summer.
    • Two manure storage projects at Madison and Roaring Creek Township farms will be completed in early 2023.
    • CAP BMP verification visits on more than 25 farms to show farmers’ efforts to help reduce nutrient loading to the Chesapeake Bay.

    Montour County Conservation District completes CAP Implementation grant project

    The Bogart Fencing project has been completed, utilizing CAP grant funds. The project consists of 1,677 linear feet of pasture for a 50-head beef cow and calf herd. The farmer agreed to eliminate animal access to a pasture field located next to the stream, which helped to create a 1.28-acre buffer. The existing fence was removed and a new fence line was created to increase buffer distance to the stream. The length of streambank fencing was approximately 310 linear feet. Eliminating the animal access to the stream and creating a buffer greatly reduced the nutrient runoff from the operation. Additional pasture was created by using a Growing Greener grant to reduce nutrient loading to the 5-acre pasture.
    Completed Bogart Fencing Project in Montour County

    Juniata County Conservation District holds soil health workshops

    Juniata County Conservation District held two soil health workshops focusing on soil health benefits for agriculture producers. The first workshop was held at Chip Spatz's Farm in Richfield on October 13, 2022. Twenty-eight people attended the workshop. The highlight of this workshop was the opportunity to view an actively growing multi-species cover crop mix.
    The second workshop was held on February 1, 2023, in Mifflintown. Thirty-two people attended. Attendees discussed the cost-effectiveness and benefits of soil health to production and water quality and the importance of soil health best management practices.

    Adams County preservation activities increase

    The Land Conservancy of Adams County partnered with Conewago Township supervisors and a local farmer to permanently preserve 48 acres of farmland near McSherrystown. The farm’s owner, Barb Martin, wanted to preserve her family’s farm so her family could continue to farm in future generations. Additionally, the Land Conservancy of Adams County partnered with the owners of Kuhn Orchards to permanently preserve nearly 10 acres of rural land in Franklin Township. Fruit growers Dave and Mary Margaret Kuhn donated a conservation easement on nearly 10 acres of wooded bottomland on their family farm in Cashtown. No strangers to land preservation—over the years Dave and Mary Margaret have preserved a total of 150 acres of their family farm through the Land Conservancy and Adams County’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
    The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a nonprofit, member-supported land trust accredited by the national Land Trust Alliance’s Land Trust Accreditation Commission. 

    Bradford, Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties create a Forestry Education Symposium through DEP Environmental Education grant funding

    The North Central and Northeast Forestry Education Symposium provides forestry education and resources to northern Pennsylvania. It promotes proper and sustainable use of forestry management practices, while addressing multiple connections between climate change, carbon storage and water quality. Bradford, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties include priorities for forestry education, outreach and technical assistance within their CAPs, and increased outreach, knowledge and continued education surrounding proper stewardship of forestry resources is needed to decrease the potential for negative impacts on water quality associated with timber management and harvest.
    To continue to promote sustainable management of local forestry resources, the next Symposium will be held on April 1, 2023, at Vosburg Neck State Park and will include educational presentations on forest health, forest harvest regulations, best management practices, and sustainable uses to promote appropriate woodlot management techniques. A guided forestry tour will also be offered. 
    David Litke on his Bellefonte land

    Centre County Farmland Trust receives donated easement of 55 acres in Bellefonte

    David Litke is donating a conservation easement to the Centre County Farmland Trust. The easement will stay with the land, guaranteeing that the land will remain open and undeveloped in perpetuity. This kind of easement reduces the commercial sales value of the land and represents a landowner’s valuable donation to the public, through the Trust. ClearWater Conservancy helped facilitate the completion of the conservation easement process on behalf of Centre County Farmland Trust.
    The Litke property will be the 17th property preserved through a donated farmland conservation easement with the Trust. The Trust pays the costs of securing the easement, and then will hold, steward and enforce the easement into the future.

    Perry County Conservation District celebrates 10,000 acres of farmland preserved

    On December 12, 2022, the Perry County Conservation District Board hosted the Farmland Preservation 10,000 Acre Celebration and Annual Banquet at the Perry Mennonite Reception Center in Elliottsburg. The overall statistics for the Perry County Farmland Preservation Program are encouraging: there are 71 farmland easements with a total of 10,076 acres preserved. Of those, there are 2,992 acres in donation, 3,950 acres in state purchased, and 3,134 acres in federal purchased. There are 44 operation types represented on these preserved farms, including: eight crop, 16 dairy, eight poultry, 10 beef, one sheep and one swine farm.
    Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101