Tag Archives: Environment

PA Game Commision Urges Outdoorsmen to Participate in Christmas bird Count

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are urging wildlife enthusiasts to join the tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the United States in the Audubon Society’s 110th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), which will take place Dec. 14, through Jan. 5.

“Bird enthusiasts, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, will head out on an annual mission – often before dawn – to make a difference and to experience the beauty of creation,” said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Section supervisor. “Each year, volunteers brave snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count, and they have made an enormous contribution to conservation to help guide conservation actions.

“The data collected through this effort – which is the longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – allows researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.”

For more information, including how to participate, please visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission – State Wildlife Management Agency website: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/cwp/view.asp?a=11&Q=177635

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Opportunities for Beaver Expanded

w:Wills Creek (Ohio), flowing from Wills Creek...
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AKRON, OH – Nuisance beaver populations at several of its reservoirs has prompted the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) to conduct a public drawing for beaver trapping permits this season in cooperation with the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

The MWCD will grant a limited number of permits to selected trappers whose names will be pulled at random during a drawing Saturday, November 7 at 12:00 noon at Tappan Lake Park’s activity center, located in Harrison County near Deersville. Complete details will be provided to the selected trappers at that time. Interested trappers must be at least 18 years old, be present at the public drawing and possess all Ohio licenses and permits necessary in order to be considered for selection.

“Permits will be issued for trapping on properties at Atwood, Beach City, Bolivar, Charles Mill, Clendening, Leesville, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Mohawk, Seneca, Tappan and Wills Creek reservoirs,” said Mark Jukich, chief of conservation for the MWCD. “Several locations at those reservoirs have been identified as having nuisance beaver populations.”

For additional information, contact Jim Bishop at the MWCD by calling toll-free (877) 363-8500 or Dan Kramer at the Division of Wildlife at (330) 644-2293.

Trapping for these furbearers on public lands is by permit only and limited to areas where flooding from beaver dams interferes with other management practices or affects adjacent, private property or roadways. Beaver and otter trapping seasons run December 26, 2009 through February 28, 2010 statewide.

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Ohio Community Beautification Grants Available

Litter floating in an irrigation canal.
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COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is accepting grant proposals for community programs that will improve local environments through litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction.
The ODNR Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention will grant competitive awards up to $2,000 to support litter clean-up activities that involve the work of volunteers. Last year, ODNR’s 66 grant awards totaled $141,890 and generated more than $1 million worth of local volunteer hours, $132,852 worth of goods and services and more than $52,000 in private contributions.
The projects funded through this grant program must take place during March, April or May of 2010, and grant recipients are to incorporate Keep Ohio Beautiful Month programming into their community awareness and promotional activities.
Last year’s clean-ups collected more than 65,000 bags of litter from 4,000 miles of Ohio streets, alleys and highways. Statewide, as many as 36,000 volunteers participated in neighborhood and roadside clean ups.
Funding for the ODNR Litter Clean-Up Grant program comes from tipping fees, which are levied upon waste received at waste processing facilities. In this case, the facilities are construction and demolition debris landfills. No cash match is required, but the grants allow local entities to leverage additional funds for the projects. Financial or in-kind contributions are encouraged.
For additional information about the grant program, contact the ODNR Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention at 614-265-6333 or visit www.ohiodnr.com/recycling.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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PA Fish and Boat Commission Wins with Superfund Settlement

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) today announced that state and federal agencies have successfully reached a $21 million settlement over environmental damages stemming from a Superfund site in Northeast Pennsylvania’s Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

“While this settlement is the largest natural resource damage settlement to date in Pennsylvania, it can never fully compensate for the environmental damage done to the aquatic resources of that area and the services that they provided,” said PFBC Executive Director Douglas Austen. “The losses occurred over decades. Our hope is that following the restoration planning process, we will be able to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources that were injured and the services, such as fishing, that were lost.”

Austen also thanked his employees for the work they put in helping the trustees make their case. “The employees in our Division of Environmental Services deserve special praise for the work they did and the long hours they contributed in helping to establish the legal foundation for this case,” he said.

Under the agreement with the U.S. Justice Department and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, five companies have agreed to pay approximately $21.4 million in cash and property to compensate for natural resource damages resulting from decades of zinc smelting operations at the Palmerton Zinc Pile Superfund site, located about 25 miles north of Allentown.

CBS Operations Inc., TCI Pacific Communications Inc., CBS/Westinghouse of Pa. Inc., HH Liquidating Corp. and HRD Liquidating Corp., agreed to make a cash payment of $9.875 million and to transfer 1200 acres of valuable property, known as the Kings Manor property and valued at approximately $8.72 million, to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The companies’ cash payment will be deposited into the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Trust Fund. State and federal agencies will use the funds to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of natural resources impacted by the site. A restoration plan will be developed for public comment by the trustees. The trustees in this case include:

  • U.S. Department of the Interior,Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the PennsylvaniaDepartment of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

In addition, the companies agreed to pay $2.5 million for damage assessment costs and to discharge a mortgage worth $300,000 on the Wildlife Information Center (Lehigh Gap Nature Center), a non-profit conservation and environmental education organization, located at the Lehigh Gap.

“The funds and property recovered from this settlement will result in a cleaner, restored environment to counteract the damages that were incurred as a result of the years of harmful emissions from smelter operations,” said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement is a result of a cooperative effort by federal and state trustees.”

The settlement will resolve claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Act, also known as the Superfund law, the Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, under which federal and state trustees of natural resources are authorized to seek compensation for damages to resources that are injured by releases of  hazardous substances.

The Palmerton Zinc Pile Superfund Site consists of a broad area impacted by emissions of contaminants from historic zinc smelting operations and more recent zinc-recovery operations at a plant site located 25 miles north of Allentown. Over 90 years of smelting operations by the former New Jersey Zinc Co., emitted hazardous materials including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese and zinc into the surrounding environment through air emissions and the release of solid wastes. Large quantities of the hazardous materials were carried by wind and deposited over surrounding areas resulting in defoliation and contamination of thousands of acres throughout the ridge and valley area of eastern Pennsylvania. The National Park Service owns and maintains approximately 800 acres of land that has been acquired to protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in this area, which winds along the Blue Mountain ridge and through the associated gaps. The Pennsylvania Game Commission also owns several thousand acres of State Game Lands on Blue Mountain.

Hazardous materials subsequently contaminated several miles of Aquashicola Creek and the Lehigh River as a result of erosion, surface runoff, and shallow ground water contamination.

CBS/Westinghouse of Pa. Inc., is a current owner of a portion of the Site. CBS Operations Inc., TCI Pacific Communications Inc., HH Liquidating Corp. and HRD Liquidating Corp., are successors of the zinc smelting and zinc recovery operators.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, is subject to a 60-day comment period and final court approval. The consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.

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PA Game Commission Unveils New Wildlife Improvement Signage

Pennsylvania State Game Lands 134 Sign in Plun...
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HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today announced that visitors to the agency’s more than 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands will start seeing a new crop of signs designed to educate the public about four of the primary methods of habitat improvement used to benefit wildlife.

“Each year, the agency spends more than 40 percent of its total budget on wildlife habitat improvements,” Roe said. “Each of these news signs will provide a short description about one of the four primary habitat management practices being employed by agency personnel and, in most cases, when it occurred.

“For decades, the Game Commission has been conducting these types of habitat enhancements, but too often the general public doesn’t readily recognize the efforts are deliberate and habitat-based. A good example is herbaceous openings, also referred to as ‘food plots,’ which many people believe are part of the natural landscape rather than ‘man made.’”

Likewise, Roe noted that the agency’s use of prescribed fire is sometimes viewed as the result of arson or accidental fires, rather than a well-planned deliberate burns used to enhance or create wildlife habitat.

“If the sportsmen actually knew just how much habitat work is conducted on all our State Game Lands, they would certainly be impressed,” Roe said. “But, we have not always done a good job of telling visitors to State Game Lands exactly what has been done to improve wildlife habitat.”

Roe noted that the four practices that will be promoted by the signs are: Wildlife Openings, also called food plots or herbaceous openings; Prescribed Burn Area; Forest Management Area; and Deer Exclosure Fence. The exact wording on the signs is as follows:

WILDLIFE OPENING: This herbaceous area benefits wildlife throughout the year. It is maintained to promote native plants, legumes, or annual grains. Maintenance may include planting, spraying, prescribed fire and mechanical treatments.

PRESCRIBED BURN AREA: This area was intentionally burned following a detailed plan to improve wildlife habitat. Prescribed fire is a safe, cost effective tool to reduce undesirable plants, improve soil conditions, and promote native plants. This burn was conducted on ____.

FOREST MANAGEMENT AREA: Trees in this area were cut to improve wildlife habitat. Removing over-story trees allows sunlight to reach the forest floor, resulting in greater food and cover available for wildlife. Harvests also generate revenue that is used to improve additional habitat on State Game Lands. Date Cut: ______________.

DEER EXCLOSURE FENCE: This fence is intended to reduce deer browsing on a limited area to allow regeneration of understory plants. The fence will be removed when adequate trees and shrubs are established, providing habitat for numerous wildlife species, including deer. Hunting is welcome and encouraged inside the fence. Please enter through the yellow access gates. This fence was installed on: ______________________.

Roe noted that each year, from mid-September through mid-October, the Game Commission hosts a series of State Game Lands tours to enable residents to see what the agency is doing on behalf of wildlife.

“State Game Land tours provide the opportunity for those who enjoy nature to come out and talk with our employees – the people who are directly responsible for managing and protecting these lands,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Coupled with these new signs, the agency is enhancing the public’s opportunity to see how the Game Commission is spending hunting and furtaker license fees to acquire and manage these lands for wildlife.”

In 1919, the Game Commission was granted authority to purchase lands for the protection, propagation and management of game and wildlife, and to provide areas for public hunting and trapping. Since that time, the Game Commission has acquired more than 1.4 million acres in 65 of the state’s 67 counties (Philadelphia and Delaware counties being the exceptions).

With few exceptions, State Game Lands were purchased using revenues from hunting and furtaker license sales; State Game Lands timber, coal, oil, gas and mineral operation revenues; the state’s share of a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, known as the Pittman-Robertson Program; from Working Together for Wildlife artwork and patch sales; and from the Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management stamp and print sales.

GAME COMMISSION ADDS ‘HABITAT HAPPENNINGS’ TO WEBSITE

In its ongoing efforts to inform the public about work to improve wildlife habitats on State Game Lands, the Pennsylvania Game Commission website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) now features a “Habitat Happenings” section on the homepage.

“This new web feature focuses on habitat management practices used by the Game Commission to make lands more attractive and accommodating to wildlife,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Each week, agency land managers and foresters will present a new journal entry or report of their activities afield in an effort to showcase what they do for both wildlife and recreationists on State Game Lands and lands enrolled in the agency’s cooperative public lands programs.

“The entries will help you appreciate the value of a dollar to wildlife managers and why lands for wildlife always need fieldwork. You’ll also get a feel for what happens on state game lands when you’re not there. It’ll be a real eye-opener for many folks.”

Roe noted that the contributing participants in the first phase of this new feature will be from the agency’s Southeast Region, which covers 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Within the region, there are five land management groups that are managed by land management group supervisors, foresters and members of the Food and Cover Corps.

“We encourage Pennsylvanians to check in weekly to see and learn more about how these groups – and many agency conservation partners – do their jobs and make a tremendous difference for wildlife and the folks who enjoy wildlife and wild places,” Roe said. “We certainly believe that this new feature will be of interest to those concerned about wildlife and the management of State Game Lands habitat, which is supported by funding from the Commonwealth’s hunters and trappers.”

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