Commonwealth legislators have multiple opportunities to pass bills that can clean and protect local waters and move Pennsylvania closer to meeting its Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint commitments.
Senate Bill 832 and House Bill 1901 intend to allocate $250 million in American Rescue Plan monies to establish a Clean Streams Fund. The fund would establish the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP) to help farmers and the Municipal Stormwater Assistance Program provide funding to local governments.
ACAP is a statewide agriculture costshare program that would invest in local farm conservation projects through county conservation districts.
Farmers have shown they are willing to invest their time, land, limited funds, and effort to clean and protect local rivers and streams. But they need greater investments from state and federal sources if they are to expand and finish the job.
Another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 251, would regulate the application of commercial lawn fertilizer and certify applicators, reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.
The legislative session expires at the end of 2022.
Tree-mendous Planting Goal
The Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership, coordinated by CBF, along with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Natural Resource and Conservation Service, and Pennsylvania Game Commission collectively added more than three million trees along local streams and in urban settings since 2018.
Efforts will accelerate in 2022, when the goal is to plant 800,000 trees in the spring season. Additional landowners and locations will be needed to get 450,000 trees, ordered by the partnership, into the ground.
“That is more than double the number of trees we planted in 2021 and actually more trees than we’ve provided to date in one year,” partnership Manager Brenda Sieglitz said.
In addition to helping to address climate change, trees are among the most cost-effective tools for cleaning and protecting waterways by filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing streambanks, improving soil quality, and sequestering carbon.
Short-Sighted Solar Sites
Large-scale solar projects are popping up throughout the Commonwealth and hundreds more may be coming soon.
Many solar farms are being developed by companies to offset their carbon footprints and have been proposed for farms and forests. These locations are not only short-sighted and counterintuitive to tackling climate change, they can also lead to a cascade of other negative ecological impacts.
Clear cutting forests and compacting and covering healthy farm soils threaten to increase polluted runoff degrading streams, increase nuisance flooding, diminish wildlife habitat, and release soil carbon back into the atmosphere.
Ideal alternative locations include underperforming malls and their parking lots, abandoned mine lands, and other industrial locations.
CBF’s report Principles and Practices for Realizing the Necessity and Promise of Solar Power can guide decision-makers on where solar projects should be located.
Pennsylvania Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation