Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PADEP considers expansion of Lake Erie coastal zone

                                                                      Lake Erie MarshlandsJames Marvin Phelps
Expanding the current Lake Erie coastal zone to encompass all  state watersheds that flow into Lake Erie, is a plan under consideration by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

In a news release today, the DEP announced three public 'listening sessions'
  • June 18 at 9 a.m. in the Springboro Community Center
  • June 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Girard Township Building, and
  • June 19 at 3:00 p.m. in the Blasco Library in Erie.

“Expanding Lake Erie’s coastal zone would create new opportunities for grant-funded improvements in the Lake Erie watershed,” DEP Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch said. “We are pleased to offer an opportunity for residents to comment on this important proposal.”

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According to the DEP, the local Lake Erie Advisory Committee asked DEP’s Coastal Resources Management Program (CRMP) in 2011 to study and consider an expanded watershed boundary. Since then, CRMP has been weighing the possibility of expanding the coastal zone.

Expansion of the coastal zone would allow grant funds to be used throughout the Lake Erie watershed. Currently, grant funds are restricted to smaller areas along the coastline and used for minor construction projects like fishing access areas, or for planning, research, public education and restoration projects.

DEP says that the CRMP serves to protect and manage Pennsylvania’s two established coastal areas along Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides federal funding to the program under the Coastal Zone Management Act. The CRMP offers grant funding opportunities to Pennsylvania’s coastal communities to manage coastal resources and balance economic development with resource protection and conservation.

For more information about the CRMP, proposed coastal boundary expansion map and past grant projects, visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: coastal zone.

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