Wolf Administration honors 13 statewide projects with environmental excellence award

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) honored 13 projects by schools, businesses and community organizations around the state with the 2021 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.

“This year’s Environmental Excellence honorees showcase the innovation and passion that our students, educators, and community and business leaders bring to environmental challenges,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a press release. “Their dedication brings health, economic and recreation benefits not only to their communities but to all Pennsylvanians.”

Applications for the award were evaluated for their degree of environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change and sustainability, and outcomes achieved.

Locally, in Centre County, Penns Valley Conservation Association was honored for Muddy Creek stream restoration, Phase 3-Marquardt Farm.

Five farmers own the two-mile section of Muddy Creek where Phases 1 and 2 were completed, the release said. Phase 3, the final part of the project, entailed the restoration of a 1,200-foot reach of stream on the Marquardt Farm.

Restoration efforts include as follows:

  • To reduce erosion, the association and its partners installed 16 bank stabilization and fish habit structures. Mudsill cribs protect streambank and provide overhead cover and pool depth for adult trout
  • Increased spawning substrates resulted from the placement of log vanes in the stream to increase water velocity and promote silt-free gravel deposition downstream
  • To address high summer water temperatures, the project planted vegetative buffers along the stream. Native tree and shrub species provide shade, stabilizing seasonal water temperature fluctuations. They also help minimize soil erosion and provide additional wildlife habitat

Other projects that were awarded include those of Allegheny County, Dauphin County, Erie County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, Montour County, Philadelphia County and York County.

Statewide, the Pennsylvania Game Commission was awarded for Wildlife on Wifi (WoW), an online conservation learning program that launched shortly after COVID-19 orders went into effect. The goal of the program was to ensure continuity of the commission’s educational and public awareness during the pandemic.

It’s reported the program was such a success that it’s now a permanent program that has been nationally recognized.

“With the unprecedented challenges facing parents and educators during COVID-19, we launched Wildlife on WiFi with the vision of connecting Pennsylvanians to their state’s wildlife from anywhere. We’re honored by the program’s recognition and encourage everyone to explore WoW’s online resources and lessons,” Lauren Ferreri, a Pennsylvania Game Commission manager who coordinated the project team, said.

Collectively, these projects resulted in:

• Creation of 8.5 acres of wetlands and 5 acres of tree or other vegetation buffers on stream banks to remove over 675 tons of sediment, 6,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 375 pounds of phosphorous annually from waterways;
• Planting of more than 3,200 native trees and shrubs that will sequester over 400,000 pounds of carbon from the air and remove more than 2,600 pounds of other air pollutants over 25 years;
• Remediation of 300,000 square feet of hazardous materials and sustainable redevelopment of nearly 200 acres of former industrial property;
• Education of more than 1,100 Pennsylvania students and nearly 24,000 residents on environmental issues;
• Over 100 new or updated Agricultural Erosion and Sediment Management Plans or Manure Management Plans;
• Installation of three air quality monitors for local communities; and
• Generation of over 2.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity from solar energy.

For more information on the award as well as award-winning environmental efforts, head to the DEP’s website.

Applications are currently open online for 2022 awards.

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