News and Updates
NRCS Accepting Applications for Conservation Programs
HARRISBURG, PA, November 10, 2014– The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications to help producers improve water and air quality, build healthier soil, improve grazing and forest lands, conserve energy, enhance organic operations, and achieve other environmental benefits.
NRCS will be able to provide funding assistance directly to Pennsylvania farmers and landowners in Fiscal Year 2015 to help them implement conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the agency’s largest Farm Bill conservation program, the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Interested producers should visit their local NRCS service center for sign-up information.
“USDA conservation programs offer farmers and forestland managers a variety of options to conserve natural resources while boosting production on their lands,” State Conservationist Denise Coleman said. “This conservation investment helps improve environmental health and the economy of Pennsylvania’s rural communities.”
EQIP and AMA provide financial assistance for a variety of conservation activities, such as nutrient management, reduced tillage, field buffers, rotational grazing systems and much more. CSP provides funding to help producers implement a variety of improved or advanced management enhancements on cropland, pasture and forestland.
The deadline to submit applications to be considered in the second ranking period for funding consideration in Pennsylvania for EQIP and AMA is Friday, December 19, 2014. Applications received after that date will be accepted and considered for funding in the third ranking on February 20, 2015, if funds remain. Applications are being accepted continuously for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). A cutoff date to be included in the first round evaluation of CSP applications has not yet been announced. Producers are encouraged to apply now for CSP rather than waiting for a cutoff date to be announced.
Additionally, NRCS offers special initiatives through EQIP, including:
- On-Farm Energy Initiative: helps producers conserve energy on their operations.
- Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: helps producers install high tunnels designed to extend the growing season into the cold months, increase productivity, keep plants at a steady temperature and conserve water and energy.
- Organic Initiative: helps producers to install conservation practices on certified organic operations or those working toward organic certification.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. To take advantage of NRCS technical assistance and expertise or federally funded conservation on your farm or land, please contact your local USDA NRCS Field Office found at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov, or visit our website at www.pa.nrcs.usda.gov for applications and program information.
DEP APPROVES AMMENDMENT TO THE COUNTY WIDE ACT 167 STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR DAUPHIN COUNTY
In November 2013, the Department of Environmental Protection approved an amendment to the Dauphin County Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan. This county wide plan was originally approved by DEP in 2010. Most municipalities in Dauphin County subsequently adopted Stormwater management ordinances base on the model ordinance provided in the 2010 plan. Included in the model was a section that provided criteria for exempting regulated projects from some of the requirements of the ordinance.
In response to concerns that were recently raised regarding the exemption criteria, the Conservation District developed an amended exemption section. The amendment provides greater flexibility and regulatory relief for regulated projects under certain circumstances.
The amendment provides three exemption alternatives to municipal governments as follows. The three options were developed to allow municipalities to choose to revise their ordinance or keep their ordinance the same while still remaining consistent with the DEP approved plan and amendment.
1. The first option is to retain the existing ordinance exemption criteria. This option was provided to allow municipalities that are satisfied with their current ordinance to retain the existing language with no formal action required.
2. The second option allows municipalities to adopt exemption criteria that consider not only new impervious cover, but also the separation distance from the new impervious cover to features potentially impacted adversely by increased stormwater runoff. Some of the features considered are property lines and surface waters such as streams and wetlands. If a municipality choses this option, the municipality will need to formally adopt a revision to their existing stormwater management ordinance.
3. The third options would allow a municipality to implement the separation distances as the first consideration in granting an exemption and also allow the municipality to fall back on the original exemption criteria where appropriate to provide regulatory relief. If a municipality choses this option, the municipality will need to formally adopt a revision to their existing stormwater management ordinance.
For more information contact the Dauphin County Conservation district at 717-921-8100
To view the existing and amended ordinance language, use the links below:
ORIGINAL EXEMPTION LANGUAGE
AMENDED EXEMPTION LANGUAGE
The Dauphin County Conservation District has developed a new Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Plan Small Projects Guide. This guide is useful for developing an Erosion Control Plan for small projects under 1 acre in area of Earth Disturbance. Click Here for more information or contact the Conservation District at 717-921-8100
NRCS Assists Local Landowners in Managing Their Forest for Future Generations
Click here for more information