EPA and American Rivers Award $1.37 Million in Grants to Restore Potomac Highlands Rivers Clean Water


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Rivers recently announced the six recipients of $1,373,119 in environmental grants to benefit communities, and protect rivers and clean water in the Potomac Highlands region of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

The announcement was made at Frostburg University in Frostburg, Md. by by EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, and American Rivers Senior Vice President for Conservation Chris Williams. The university will be involved in the Frostburg Grows, Grow It Local Greenhouse Project, submitted by Western Maryland Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. one of the six projects selected to receive a grant. This project will convert unused mine land into a five-acre greenhouse complex designed to train community members for high quality jobs while producing local food and tree seedlings.

Under a cooperative agreement with EPA, American Rivers is implementing the environmental grant program which supports local economies and quality of life improvements in the Potomac Highlands, as well as protecting the Highlands' valuable ecosystems, some of which host the most diverse and globally important resources on Earth.

"The communities that comprise the Potomac Highlands will significantly benefit from this grant," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "The projects receiving grants today undertake a variety of approaches to achieve tangible economic and environmental benefits for this unique area. These grants will provide jobs and job training as well as a significant boost to recreational activities."

The Highlands region is the headwaters of the Potomac River, which flows through the nation’s capital. The region’s streams and forests, which provide an estimated 186,000 jobs in the timber industry, are a rich habitat for fish, wildlife, and plants, as well as increasingly popular recreation and tourism destination. Many of the region’s streams have been damaged by harmful logging, mining, dams, and other development, but opportunities abound for river restoration and revitalization.

The grant recipients are:

MARYLAND

Frostburg Grows, Grow It Local Greenhouse Project (Frostburg, MD)
Sub-grantee: Western Maryland Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.

Amount: $300,000

This project will convert unused mined land into a 5-acre greenhouse complex designed to train community members for high quality jobs while producing local food and tree seedlings. The environmental, social and economic benefits include reducing Potomac basin flooding and acid mine drainage, reestablishing natural forest habitat on strip-mined lands, creating two permanent, sustainable jobs and a training facility that will help create additional job opportunities, and providing local healthy food to the residents of western Maryland.

PENNSYLVANIA

Marsh Creek Watershed Conservation Easement (Adams County, PA)

Sub-grantee: Land Conservancy of Adams County, PA

Amount: $250,000

The Land Conservancy of Adams County will permanently preserve more than 147 acres of forest through a conservation easement on lands owned by Boyer Nurseries and Orchards. These high quality forestlands include the headwaters of Marsh Creek and are adjacent to more than 900 contiguous acres of preserved forestland that provide important bird habitat. LCAC is seeking other sources of funding to preserve additional orchard lands.

VIRGINIA

Shenandoah Valley Priority Lands Project (VA)

Sub-grantee: Potomac Conservancy

Amount: $150,000

The Priority Lands Project will protect important riverside, agricultural, and forested lands in the northern Shenandoah Valley with permanent conservation easements. Conservation of these key lands, totaling more than 1,100 acres, will preserve water quality in the Shenandoah River, the Potomac River's largest tributary. It will also safeguard farms, forests, scenery, and the heritage and recreational opportunities for which the Valley is known.

Restoring Peyton Creek (Staunton, VA)

Sub-grantee: City of Staunton, VA

Amount: $209,244

This creek restoration project will improve water quality, encourage 21st century redevelopment, and beautify the Staunton community. The City of Staunton and its partners will remove 300 feet of culvert and restore streamside plantings in Gypsy Hill Park; daylight the stream and restore streamside plantings along 600 linear feet at Gypsy Hill Place; restore the Churchville Avenue Floodplain and; establish a rain garden and restore streamside vegetation along 200 feet of recently daylighted creek at 280/274 North Central Avenue.

Restoring Waynesboro’s Riverfront Parks (Waynesboro, VA)

Sub-grantee: City of Waynesboro

Amount: $163,875

The City of Waynesboro will restore riverside habitat, stabilize streambanks, and improve management of polluted runoff to improve water quality at two public parks along the South River. The project will also improve habitat for eastern brook trout, enhance recreation opportunities, and build upon the South River Greenway project currently underway in Waynesboro.

WEST VIRGINIA

Gandy Ranch Project Restoring Habitat and Landscape Connections (WV)

Sub-grantee: The Nature Conservancy

Amount: $300,000

The project will protect a 455-acre landscape connector between the Laurel Fork Wilderness Area and the Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob Recreation Area of Monongahela National Forest. It will restore and reconnect red spruce/northern hardwood forests to expand the habitat of the federally protected West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel and Cheat Mountain Salamander. Partners include The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative, the US Forest Service, and the Mountain Institute.


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