CBF, Partners Celebrate EPA Award For Conservation Improvements To PA Farms

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation this week celebrated receiving the 6th annual Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizing projects that set an example of innovative and sustainable water quality financing. 

            CBF received the 2010 PISCES award for conservation improvements completed on 43 Pennsylvania farms to improve water quality and farm viability. The award reflects the broad, committed work of many partners across the watershed.
            “We are honored to receive this award and celebrate the work completed with the many partners who made it possible,” said William Baker, CBF President. “What we have achieved is more than success and more than an award – we have achieved significant reductions to the agricultural pollutants entering Pennsylvania’s streams, and of that, we are all proud.”
            EPA’s PISCES Awards were created in 2005 to recognize the extraordinary successes of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs. Projects financed under the CWSRF programs support the Clean Water Act by protecting environmental health and water quality. The PISCES Awards highlight successfully designed projects that further the goal of clean and safe water with exceptional planning, management, and financing.
            "This effort demonstrates how conservation practices can improve the health of our waters and the productivity of our farms," said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.  "We appreciate the work of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and all of the partners involved in effectively using our federal Recovery Act funds to benefit farmers and reduce pollution to local streams and rivers and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay."
            In total, 209 individual best management practices were constructed on 43 farms in thirteen counties, including 16.5 miles of streamside forested buffers, 82 acres of wetlands (enhanced or restored), and the creation of 124 jobs (full time equivalents for one year).
            “This team has accomplished astonishing estimated reductions of the major pollutants to our rivers, streams, and to the Chesapeake Bay,” said Baker. “We are looking at estimated annual reductions of more than 948,000 pounds of nitrogen, nearly 300,000 pounds of phosphorus, and over 1,000 tons of sediment. This is the result of 43 farmers volunteering to participate. Imagine what could be accomplished if we replicated this throughout the state – every farmer – the reductions could dramatically improve Pennsylvania’s rivers, streams, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.”
            The work completed through this two-year project was the result of a grant CBF received from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, with $14.2 million in funding provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
            “This is a prime example of how governmental and private sectors can work together in order to accomplish great things,” said Brion Johnson, Deputy Executive Director for Project Management for the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.  “The water quality benefits and job creation enabled through this funding not only help the farmers and other local land owners, they also impact those living downstream.  Thanks to the available funding and the hard work of CBF and their partners we are able to help protect the water quality here for years to come.”
            The broad goal of this project was to demonstrate that farmers are willing to meet a higher standard for conservation, one that meets and exceeds current state law, as a condition of receiving public funds to install conservation measures that they need and want. 
            The concept is applicable to most if not all watersheds and has the potential to work at a scale and efficiency that will make a demonstrable difference on farms, in streams, and toward goals for the cleanup of impaired Pennsylvania streams and the Chesapeake Bay. 
            The presentation of the award is also an appropriate time to celebrate the critical partnerships that made this work happen. Key partners include the Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Montour, and Susquehanna County Conservation Districts, Red Barn Inc., and TeamAg Inc.
            “The ARRA funding and our partnership with CBF gave TeamAg the opportunity to help farmers improve both the economic and environmental performance of their farms,” said Chris Sigmund, President of TeamAg, a PA-based agricultural consulting firm. “ARRA gave many farmers the opportunity to install BM Ps and forested riparian buffers on their farms; adding to the long list of improvements farms have already made in an effort to improve water quality.  TeamAg is prepared to continue to help farmers achieve their goals and eagerly looks forward to future opportunities to work with CBF and others who share similar goals.”
            The event was held in Lancaster County at one of the 43 partner farms, where a variety of BMPs were installed. Red Barn Inc., another PA-based agricultural consulting firm guided the landowner through the process and construction. 
            “CBF was the conduit between farmer and federal dollars that resulted in long lasting water quality improvements,” said Peter Hughes, President of Red Barn Inc.  “Each project brought benefit to the farm, local streams, and downstream neighbors, and will serve as a model for future water quality projects.  We are honored to be a member of the team, partnering with the farmer and CBF to raise the grade on the local watershed report card.”  
            For more information, Click Here for a fact sheet on the projects and visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation website.


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