Secretary Stresses Need for Water-Resources Legislation
On behalf of Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David E. Hess congratulated the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association (PALTA) for its role in protecting sensitive habitats, promoting biodiversity and supporting watershed restoration.
Secretary Hess was the featured speaker at PALTA's annual meeting. The meeting is part of three-day Mid-Atlantic Land Trust Conference held at Gettysburg College.
"We applaud members of PALTA for their role in protecting so many important areas of the Commonwealth," Hess said. "Great opportunities exist for making a difference in our watersheds, and PALTA has done a fantastic job in encouraging citizens to chart a course to environmental excellence."
Pennsylvania's "Growing Greener" initiative is providing necessary resources to help Pennsylvanians protect and improve their watersheds, Secretary Hess said.
Over the program's first three years, more than 188 miles of stream buffers were planted; 4,200 acres of wetlands were restored; more than 100 new watershed groups were formed; more than 2,000 acres of abandoned mines were reclaimed; and 1,242 abandoned oil and gas wells were plugged.
Land trusts have received 67 grants totaling more than $6.1 million in DEP's portion of Growing Greener.
Founded as a nonprofit organization in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national leader of the private-land conservation movement, promoting voluntary land conservation across the country and providing resources, leadership and training for the nation's 1,200-plus non-profit, grassroots land trusts to help them to protect important open spaces.
The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association promotes voluntary land conservation in the Commonwealth by supporting the missions of land trusts and building a positive climate for conservation across the state.
In his remarks, Secretary Hess also noted his support for proposed legislation to deal with water-resources issues.
Throughout April and May of last year, DEP held 15 water forums across the state to gain input from more than 1,700 citizens about their water-resource needs. That input is the basis of Gov. Schweiker's proposed water-resources legislative initiative, which would provide an historic opportunity to
-- Update the state water plan;
-- Identify Critical Water Planning Areas;
-- Promote voluntary water conservation; and
-- Improve stormwater management and establish private water-well standards.
"Water is one of our most precious resources," Hess said. "Yet we know little about how much water we have and how it is used. With the severity of the drought in Pennsylvania, the time is ripe and Mother Nature is giving us a critical opportunity to make deliberate, informed decisions about the future of the Commonwealth's water resources."