Effective this month, Potter County’s continuation in the Chesapeake Bay Reboot Strategy will come to an end. The decision was made unanimously during June’s board meeting against implementing “Phase 2” of the program, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. Also during the meeting, a representative from the DEP Bureau of Clean Water presented Phase 2 expectations and outcomes to the board, and ample time for questions and discussion followed.
The Reboot Strategy was originally introduced in 2016 to help meet EPA goals for Pennsylvania’s reduction of nutrient and sediment to the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past two years, the District has applied the Strategy by assisting in development of Manure Management and Agricultural Erosion and Sediment (Ag E&S) Plans for 60 operations, and by gathering baseline information through visiting 100 Potter County farms within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Phase 2 of the Strategy would include scheduling compliance inspections by the District with farms previously involved in developing Manure Management and/or Ag E&S Plans in order to ensure active farmer application of practices outlined in plans, and overall success in meeting state regulations.
The Conservation District does not aim to be a regulatory entity. The District’s mission is to “provide and administer programs, plans, educational information, and technical assistance for conservation practices that protect the natural resources of Potter County” – not to enforce regulations or be perceived as an enforcement agency. For this reason, the District will not be continuing participation in the Chesapeake Bay Reboot Strategy and stringent farm inspections. From this point on, farmers must be aware that DEP may still conduct inspections, and the District will continue to provide assistance to farmers who request our services.
The District stands by its role as an educator and technical assistance provider, not as a regulator. Withdrawal from the program was a challenging decision, but one that was seen as most beneficial for local farmers and landowners of Potter County. If you have any questions or need assistance on your farm, please call the Conservation District at 814-274-8411, extension 4, email at email@example.com, or stop into the office at 107 Market Street, Coudersport, PA 16915. We look forward to your continued support in working to make Potter County better as a whole.
On Saturday, June 16 Genesee Park came alive during the annual Community Days celebration, and that afternoon Genesee Headwaters Watershed Association, the Potter County Conservation District, and others celebrated the opening of a new Canoe and Kayak Launch site.
The launch lies near the back of the park and features a kiosk provided for by Genesee River Wilds, a non-profit group working to provide more river access, boost interest in outdoor recreation, and conservation. Co-founder of the organization, Alan Kerkeslager, had the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
Steve Richard, Genesee Headwaters Watershed Association president, said “our mission as a community volunteer group is to minimize stream bank erosion and monitor water quality through sampling of macro invertebrate life. It is through our group’s application, assisted by the Potter County Conservation District, that we received the funding through the Western Pa. Conservancy to build the kayak and canoe launch.” The Conservation district also assisted in incorporating fish and wildlife habitat and bank stabilization structures.
The purpose of this new launch goes beyond recreational use. The project benefits both visitors and wildlife, and is a vital tool in creating appreciation for our waterways. “The headwaters area of the Genesee is unique, difficult to traverse and intimate,” Richard said. “If you are lost in the headwaters area, just find and follow a spring run, a bubbling brook or one of the branches and you will always end up in this park. The waters will guide you and the hillsides and hollows will cradle you, and you will be surprised at what you find on your journey.”
The project was made possible by Genesee River Wilds, the Genesee Township Park Council, the Western Pa. Conservancy, the Heavy Equipment Operations and Carpentry students from Alfred State College, the Potter County Conservation District, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees that WAG Trail that runs from Wellsville to Genesee, Pa.
Potter County Conservation District is comprised of many different programs, managed by six employees. Our mission is to provide leadership to ensure the protection of the natural resources of Potter County through project implementation, educational programs, technical assistance, and by fostering public and private partnerships. A summation of some of our program activity during the past few months follows:
Chapter 102: Erosion and Sedimentation Plans are required for all earth disturbance activities over 5000 square feet. The goal of this program is to help decrease accelerated erosion caused by human activity, which has the potential to discharge sediment pollution to the waters of the Commonwealth. PCCD reviewed 14 E&S Plans, three NPDES permits, and one ESCGP-2 permit for compliance with rules and regulations. In addition, the following also occurred: 92 technical assistance contacts, 14 sites inspected, 20 inspections completed, and 12 complaints investigated.
Chapter 105: Permits are required for constructing, operating, maintaining, modifying, enlarging, or abandoning any encroachment, which is defined as any activity that changes, expands, or diminishes the course, current, or cross section of any body of water, including wetlands. PCCD reviewed and approved eight General Permits, provided 91 technical assistance contacts, inspected 13 sites, completed 20 inspections, and investigated 12 complaints.
PCCD and Potter County Planning /GIS held one-on-one meetings with local municipalities discussing E&S Plans, NPDES, wetland and stream permitting, building permit processes, storm-water and floodplains, subdivision and land development, and other topics of interest. A resource booklet was provided to each municipality at the Township Convention.
PCCD assisted the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) with cleaning up a dumpsite in Roulette. Since 2015, a total of 35 illegal dumpsites have been cleaned up. In addition, PCCD has coordinated with PEC on other sites this year.
Local farmers within the Chesapeake Bay area have been working with PCCD to complete their Manure Management and Ag E&S Plans required by DEP to help improve the polluted waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay waters come from six states and Washington D.C, comprised of 64,000 miles, and encompassing 100,000 rivers and streams.
PCCD rents three no-till farm implements (corn planter and seed drills) to local farmers to help reduce soil erosion, soil compaction, chemical runoff, fuel usage, and time and labor. No-Till equipment increases organic matter, infiltration, and soil quality. PCCD’s No-Till equipment has been used by fifty different farmers. A demonstration of No-Till equipment was held to help answer questions related to the use of this equipment.
PCCD permitted, designed, and constructed several stream restoration projects using log and stone in-stream structures to enhance fish habitat, while adding the benefit of bank stabilization. Projects included the following:
Five structures were placed on Freeman Run along Portage Road, stabilizing the road base and providing fish habitat for this well-stocked fishery.
Six structures were placed on Southwoods Branch, providing stabilization to an eroding bank.
Two structures were repaired on the Genesee River property open to the public for fishing. Several large, golden rainbow trout were utilizing these structures even as repairs were being completed.
Three structures were placed on Ludington Run, a tributary to the Genesee River, to help maintain the stream channel flowing into a new culvert and helping to maintain the deep water trout habitat on the downstream side of the culvert.
One structure was placed on the Genesee River at the town park to provide additional bank stabilization and create a stabilized point to access the river for canoes and kayaks.
Roads across the county are being improved as boroughs and townships work with PCCD’s Dirt and Gravel Road program, which provides merit-based funding for unpaved roads. Along with improvement of the roads, the streams also benefit, due to sediment from the driving surface being managed in an environmentally beneficial way to support stream organisms. Partnering with PCCD to improve roads and minimize erosion and pollution were Eulalia, Genesee, Harrison, Homer, Keating, Sweden, Sylvania and West Branch Townships and Oswayo Borough.
Farmland Preservation is important to PCCD. There are currently seven farms encompassing 1,136 acres preserved in Potter County. These farm properties are managed by private landowners using sound soil and water conservation practices that protect soil from erosion and also protect local surface waters from contamination. Open farm and forest lands are important for the recharge of ground water in our communities. These acres are eased forever as farmland property regardless of deed changes. PCCD is in the process of obtaining the easement for an eighth farm in Potter County.
Lastly, PCCD coordinates and assists with multiple projects during the year benefiting the youth of Potter County, such as FFA CDE fall study day, Envirothon, Conservation Field Days, Farm and Fishes Tour, My Growing Tree, Trout Releases, and a Summer Reading Program.
Potter County Farmland Preservation Program 2018 Sign-up Period
The Potter County Farmland Preservation Board of Directors will be accepting applications for the program beginning on October 2, 2017. Completed applications must be submitted by December 29, 2017.
The purpose of this program is to protect viable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements, which prevent the development or improvement of the land for any purpose other than agricultural production and related agricultural activities. The program also encourages landowners to make a long-term commitment to agriculture by offering them financial incentives and security of land use. Farmland that has already, or intends to sign a natural gas lease may still be eligible for the program.
The application process begins with the landowners’ completion of a Purchase of Conservation Easement Application form which can be obtained from the Potter County Conservation District office. The applications are received by the Board of Directors and then numerically ranked for the properties meeting the minimum criteria of the State Board.
Contact Berty Kurtz, Administrative Assistant, at the Potter County Conservation District to request an application or additional information.
107 Market Street
Coudersport, PA 16915
On Wednesday, July 26, 2017 a volunteer crew cleaned up the Allegheny from Burtville to Port Allegany. Pictured L to R: Chad Rugh, April Castano, Jen Haskins, Casey Boyer, Scott Wennerstrom, Jan Brown, Bob Volkmar, Jared Dickerson, Tom Manning, Frank Weeks, Janie Weeks and Dave Bressan. Not Pictured: Heather McKean and children.
Lots of junk and litter was collected making our river a better place to paddle. Many thanks to our partners: McKean County Conservation District, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, Pennsoil RC & D, Liberty Township, Potter County Conservation District, Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers and PA DCNR.