2011-04-28 / Features

Conservation District Submits 2010 Annual Report To DEP

Conservation Corner
By Seleen Shimer
CONSERVATION DISTRICT MANAGER

Editor’s Note: Each year, the Fulton County Conservation District is required to submit an annual report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Following is a summary of the district’s 2010 report that details the many Conservation District programs and services available to Fulton County residents:

Chesapeake Bay Program

The District’s Chesapeake Bay Program provides educational, technical and financial assistance to local farmers. It is intended to prevent the pollution of local surface and groundwater resources by addressing critical soil erosion and nutrient concerns on local agricultural operations. Funds are used to assist landowners and operators in implementing agricultural best management practices to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution to local waterways and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2010, the district’s ag specialist provided technical assistance to 23 agricultural landowners and operators. The specialist assisted four landowners in the implementation of the following agricultural Best Management Practices: one heavy use area protection (3.6 acres); one watering facility design; and two nutrient management plans totaling 605 acres. Forty-four operators participated in the district’s Cover Crop Incentive Program, which resulted in the planting of 1,681 acres of small grain cover crops.

Dirt and Gravel Road Program

The Conservation District’s Dirt and Gravel Road Program is a water pollution abatement program that offers eligible, local municipalities funding and technical support to repair, manage and maintain their dirt and gravel roads using environmentally sound road maintenance practices.

In 2010, the district worked with two townships to fund, plan and begin implementation of two projects worth more than $90,000. Up to 80 percent cost-share has been granted toward the implementation of a $43,000 culvert replacement and road improvement project in Licking Creek Township and a $47,086 project in Thompson Township that will enhance and stabilize four existing stream fordings along Licking Creek.

Environmental Education Program

One of the best ways for the Conservation District to ensure the continued wise use of our natural resources is to educate people through the Environmental Education Program. The district’s environmental education specialist offers environmental education programs to a wide variety of target audiences, including township officials, school students and the general public. The specialist coordinates the annual Envirothon competition and serves as an associate member on the State Envirothon Board. The specialist also conducts training sessions for teachers and assists school districts in writing grants to support their own environmental education efforts. Most importantly, the specialist provides environmental programming to students of all grade levels.

In 2010, the environmental education specialist, along with other district staff, provided Earth Week activities to McConnellsburg Elementary School students. Additionally, staff also assisted with the development and implementation of a Youth Ag Expo, which was attended by sixth-grade students from all county schools. The specialist continued to provide assistance to the Southern Fulton Elementary School in developing a portion of its property into an outdoor education site and also provided the school with quarterly environmental education lessons. The specialist assisted in leading a twoday overnight outdoor education experience for all fifthgrade students at Southern Fulton and assisted Mc- Connellsburg Middle School with an overnight, outdoor education experience for sixth-grade students.

E&S/NPDES Program

The Fulton County Conservation District is delegated by DEP to administer the Erosion and Sediment Control (E&S) Program and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program. Program duties include plan reviews, issuance of NPDES permit coverage, site inspections, voluntary compliance and enforcement coordination. Through plan reviews and site visits, the district’s erosion control specialist promotes sound erosion and sediment pollution control through the proper installation of best management practices on earthmoving sites.

In 2010, the erosion control specialist provided technical assistance to 114 individuals. The specialist conducted 14 initial and nine follow up E&S Plan reviews and issued three general NPDES permits. Eighty-one inspections were completed on 43 different sites, and the specialist responded to six complaints received by the district.

Nutrient Management Program

The Conservation District is delegated by the State Conservation Commission to administer the nutrient management program. The primary function of this program is to review and approve all Nutrient Management Plans submitted to the district. The PA Nutrient Management Act requires high-density livestock and poultry operations to develop and implement approved plans. The law also encourages the nonregulated farming community to develop and implement plans under the act. Properly implemented nutrient management plans can improve water quality, reduce fertilizer costs, improve herd health and provide many other operational benefits to the farmer.

In 2010, specialists worked with 52 farmers on Nutrient Management Program activities totaling 5,077 acres.

Watershed Program

Through the Conservation District’s Watershed Program, the watershed specialist provides educational, financial and technical assistance to local residents in an effort to protect and restore local surface and groundwater resources. The specialist accomplishes this through detailed assessments, restoration planning and design, procurement of funding and the implementation of various Best Management Practices.

In 2010, The Friends of the Little Aughwick Watershed Group worked with the watershed specialist to successfully implement a $4,350 grant project funded by the Water Resource Education Netwok through the League of Women Voters of PA Citizen Education Fund. The grant funded the development and printing of more than 15,000 educational placemats and paid to design and create educational signage to be placed at the Burnt Cabins Grist Mill and Cowans Gap State Park, to educate local citizens and area visitors about the unique water resources in the Little Aughwick watershed.

The watershed specialist also worked with consultants to organize, plan, design and permit two significant stream restoration projects in the Cove Creek watershed. The two projects will involve restoring more than a mile of stream, stabilizing channels and streambanks, rebuilding and reconnecting floodplain benches and installing fish habitat structures. Grants totaling more than $ 500,000 have been obtained from the PA Growing Greener II Grant Program, the Environmental Protection Agency 319 Grant Program and the Foundation for PA Watersheds.

In addition to these core programs, the Fulton County Conservation District also administers the county’s Farmland Preservation and Recycling programs. To view the entire 2010 Annual Report, or to learn more about the Conservation District and what it does, please visit fultoncountyconservation.org or contact the district at 717-485-3547, Ext. 4.

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