PFBC now accepting grant applications to improve Sinnemahoning Creek

On November 2, the Fish and Boat Commission announced it was accepting applications for grants under the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed Restoration Program.  The deadline to apply is January 23.

Project applicants must meet the eligibility criteria and must use the application form specified in the grant application package.  The PFBC anticipates final selection and public announcement of grant awards by the end of April 2021.

The PFBC’s primary emphasis will be on projects in the Sinnemahoning Creek Watershed upstream of the confluence with the First Fork of Sinnemahoning Creek; however, projects located elsewhere within the eligible counties will be considered.

Projects eligible for funding in this round will be limited to the following: fish habitat protection and enhancement; restoration of aquatic habitat connectivity through the removal of barriers to fish passage; riparian buffer plantings of trees and shrubs; abandoned mine drainage treatment systems or mine reclamation projects that result in significant improvements to water resources that are likely to benefit fish and other aquatic life; acquisition and development of properties for public fishing and boating access; enhancement or restoration of populations of specified aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need; storm water conservation practices/best management practices (including Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) practices for dirt, gravel, and low volume roads) that maintain or improve water quality and/or habitat for fish and other aquatic life; and acid deposition abatement and alkaline addition to remediate adverse impacts from acidic precipitation to habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

Further description of these types of eligible projects and instructions for applying can be found in the grant application package.

Currently, the balance of unobligated funds remaining in the program account is approximately $380,000.  For this round, the PFBC will consider individual grant awards in the range of $10,000 to $100,000.

Depending on the total amount of funds ultimately awarded, which will be contingent on the number and quality of the applications received, this will likely be the last round of grants for this program.  Therefore, this funding round is likely to be highly competitive.

Applicants must secure matching funds equal to at least 25 percent of the total project costs in order to supplement PFBC funds and assist in implementing their proposed projects.  This minimum match threshold is equal to one-third of the grant amount the applicant is requesting from the PFBC.

This funding is available through a 2007 settlement agreement with Norfolk Southern as restitution for environmental damages from a June 30, 2006, train derailment in rural Norwich Township, McKean County. 

The accident spilled sodium hydroxide into Big Fill Run, Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek, and the Driftwood Branch of the Sinnemahoning Creek.  Under the settlement, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay the Commonwealth $7.35 million as restitution for environmental damages. 

The PFBC received $3.675 million of the settlement and must use the funds to develop and implement projects that benefit fishing, boating, and aquatic resources in Cameron, Elk, McKean, or Potter counties.

For more information, read the grant application package.  Questions should be directed to Fisheries Biologist Jeff Schmid at 814-359-5242 or [email protected].

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