A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Joe Quatrini, Technical Team Leader, BCCD
Recently, the Bradford County Commissioners made a huge commitment to watershed rehabilitation. Using money from the Act 13 Unconventional Gas Well Fund, the Commissioners have dedicated $200,000 per year toward the restoration of streams to reduce erosion, prevent property loss, protect infrastructure, and improve flood resilience. Building off past successes of the County Stream Initiative program, the commissioners are entrusting BCCD with the administration of these new funds. The funds will be utilized in three critical stream areas: stream stabilization, emergency stream response, and to further the Bradford County stream pilot program. Currently, the Commissioners have designated $110,000 to stream stabilization, $75,000 to emergency stream response, and $15,000 to the stream pilot program. Hopefully, this funding will last for years to come and significant natural resource restoration can be accomplished.
Although, not a completely new endeavor, this initiative will allow BCCD to provide expedited assistance to the landowners of Bradford County and allow BCCD to leverage additional funding from State, Federal, and private sector sources in a new way. Landowners will have confidence that their projects meet engineering standards and will hopefully have some peace of mind during subsequent storm events. Individuals affected by streambank erosion can contact BCCD on a rolling basis and working with the Commissioners, BCCD will get projects on the ground.
Bradford County Conservation District has been administering a county-wide watershed program since 2003. This program has assisted hundreds of landowners in addressing stream instability in the form of bed and bank erosion, channel migration (stream channel moving back and forth within a valley), and debris accumulation. Close to 20 miles of stream have been stabilized to prevent loss of life, property loss, crop damage, and environmental degradation. For nearly two decades, BCCD has accomplished a great deal of work with little to no secure dedicated funding. BCCD is prepared and eager to oversee a cohesive watershed program to address the needs of the residents of Bradford County.
Stream related questions and concerns continue to be one of the most frequent issues presented to BCCD staff by Bradford County residents and property owners. Stream bank erosion threatening homes, gravel deposition changing the course of waterways, plugged culverts causing flooding, are typical calls received on a weekly basis. With no guaranteed source of funding, often times the only response we are able to provide is to say we can offer technical assistance if the landowner wants to do something on his/her own, or we can look for future grant funding. The grant process is often slow, very competitive, and unpredictable. With the amount and severity of streambank erosion in Bradford County, we realize this funding may be highly sought after as well, but there will be more flexibility with its use.
Additionally, a lack of stream related knowledge frequently leads to unforeseen consequences for landowners completing work on their own. Fines for unpermitted work or work that goes beyond the scope of state and federal authorizations is one consequence. The other is unintentionally creating a negative stream impact for themselves or their neighbors in the form of additional erosion or potential flooding. There is also the often-seen waste of resources (money, time, labor) of completing a project that is ineffective and short-lived.
This new program complements the ongoing County Stream Initiative program sponsored by the Commissioners, funded by PA DEP Growing Greener, and administered by BCCD. Speaking of which, BCCD is currently accepting applications from landowners with streambank erosion threatening their homes, businesses, driveways, and utilities or creating a substantial loss of property. If you’re interested in applying for funding through this program, you can pick up a County Stream Initiative application at the BCCD office at the Stoll Center in Wysox or find them on our website and Facebook page. The application deadline is April 30, 2021!
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District