In late October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Program announced a $186,619 grant to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The funds will be used to create a web-based tool for its wetlands program that will help boost restoration efforts.
The web-based tool will improve restoration efforts enhancing the development and refinement of a plant community predictor tool. Specifically, it will assist with restoration efforts by offering recommendations on the types of plants that can improve the health of the wetlands.
It will offer a planting blueprint — instead of a generic list of plants — which will make the wetlands more functionable and increase the replacement value for more effective plantings linked to restoration and mitigation projects in the future.
Pennsylvania Wetlands Program
More than half of Pennsylvania’s original wetland acreage has been lost or reduced by shifts to cropland, forestry and mining, and urban development, according to the Federal Highway Administration — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. At present, only 1.4% — approximately 400,000 acres — of the state is covered by wetlands.
The most prevalent types of wetlands in Pennsylvania are deciduous and forested wetlands, followed by open water, marshes, and shrub wetlands, according to the FHWA. Most wetlands are located in the glaciated northwestern and northeastern parts of the state.
About EPA Wetland Program Development Grants
The EPA’s WPDGs are used to help state, tribal, local government agencies, and interstate/intertribal entities implement programs to protect, manage, and restore wetlands. Programs are designed to help eligible entities enhance the quantity and quality of wetlands in the U.S., by conserving and restoring acreage and improving local wetland conditions.
A set of core elements, actions, and activities have been defined by the EPA that work together to create a comprehensive wetland program. The four core elements include monitoring and assessment, voluntary restoration and protection, regulatory approaches — including CWA 401 certification — and wetland-specific water quality standards.
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