Franklin County farms to get slice of waterway quality improvement grants

05 February 2024- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission approved the allocation of $3.0 million to be granted to four organizations under the framework of the Conservation Excellence Grant Program. The funds will be used to implement projects that leverage public-private partnerships in the Susquehanna River watershed that will improve water quality in Pennsylvania, directly impacting the Chesapeake Bay. This includes over $1 million in funds each for the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay and Lancaster Farmland Trust to cover a wide variety of projects, including installing conservation practices on 10 preserved farms.

“Pennsylvania farmers know that sustainable practices and environmental stewardship are critical to the future of agriculture here in Pennsylvania and across our nation,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Our goal to meet and exceed the Chesapeake Bay water quality standards is coequal with the goals that our farmers have in ensuring viable and sustainable farmland. These are generational decisions that our farmers are making today that will ensure a future of healthy soils and clean water for the decades to come.”

The Conservation Excellence Grant Program was created by Act 39 of 2019, with the current funding coming in part through EPA’s Most Effective Basins-infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act Grant Fund. The grants are structured to provide financial and technical assistance for the implementation of best management practices on agricultural operations in areas designated as priority locations by the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Chesapeake Bay Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan. Pennsylvania counties within the Chesapeake Bay watershed are designated as Tier 1, 2 or 3 counties, and that designation is noted in the below, approved projects.

Projects and programs in Centre, Lancaster, and Snyder counties were awarded money through the Agriculture Department. Locally, the Franklin County Conservation District also received significant help.

Franklin County Conservation District – Franklin County, Tier 2 – Awarded $300,000

Funds provided by the Conservation Excellence Grant will be used to bolster the Restore. Exclude. Vegetate. (R.E.V.) program in Franklin County. The R.E.V. program will offer 100% cost-share to landowners to complete livestock exclusion fencing, off-stream waterers, livestock crossing, vegetated buffers, and private engineering fees (where necessary) on farms located along the Antietam Creek. The Franklin County Conservation District is parenting with the Antietam Watershed Association to monitor the health of the stream and to calculate the impact of the R.E.V. program.