HARRISBURG – The wide array of programs and support services offered by the state’s 66 county conservation districts were the subject of an informational meeting of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Wednesday.
“Potter County is home to the state’s very first conservation district, established in November 1945. The Commonwealth now has 66 conservation districts that have evolved effectively over the years to meet the needs of their particular regions of the state,” said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), chairman of the committee. “They truly are a vital partner with the Commonwealth and our communities in achieving both environmental and economic success.”
McKean County Conservation District Manager Sandy Thompson was one of four presenters at the meeting, outlining for lawmakers the importance of the Dirt, Gravel and Low-Volume Road program administered at the statewide level by the State Conservation Commission and at the local level by county conservation districts.
She explained how the program impacts water quality issues, by reducing the amount of erosion and runoff; saves municipalities money by reducing maintenance costs; and improves public safety. The conservation district offers funding and technical assistance to municipalities but also extends its education and outreach to landowners, businesses and others to share best practices for restoration and maintenance of dirt and gravel roads.
She was pleased by the opportunity to appear before the committee and share her enthusiasm for the work she and her fellow conservation districts managers, employees and board members do.
“The passion of our conservation districts across the Commonwealth is tremendous,” Sandy Thompson said. “We are not in it for the money but because we see a need and want to make a difference in protecting our environment.”
Blair County Conservation District Manager Donna Fisher outlined her district’s efforts, focusing on stormwater management and requirements communities must meet under the Municipal Separate, Sewer, Storm Systems. She highlighted the collaboration the district has helped to facilitate in the effort to best meet the financial and technical needs of Blair County’s municipalities.
Lancaster County Conservation District Manager Christopher Thompson summarized the many programs administered by his district, which is the largest in the state. With a substantial agriculture industry in the county, they offer funding opportunities and technical support for farmers to implement best practices. He also highlighted the county’s work to fight back against the invasive spotted lanternfly, which was first detected in neighboring Berks County and has now spread to more than a dozen counties in the eastern half of the state.
Brenda Shambaugh, executive director of the PA Association of Conservation Districts (PACD), also addressed the committee and shared a video highlighting the history of conservation districts in the state. First established by law in 1945, the districts were charged with the protection of soil, water and related resources on a local level. Over the years, the districts have evolved to cover an array of environmental protection and conservation initiatives, including clean water, agricultural practices, stormwater management, forest management, dirt and gravel roads, invasive species and more. Conservation districts also engage in environmental education initiatives for people of all ages. For more information about conservation districts in the Commonwealth, visit PACD.org
For full video of the committee meeting, as well as individual testifiers’ presentations, visit RepCauser.com
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler
Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, welcomed McKean County Conservation District Manager Sandy Thompson to the state Capitol Wednesday for a committee meeting to discuss the operations of conservation districts statewide.