On December 15, 1999, Growing Greener became the largest single investment of state funds in Pennsylvania's history to address critical environmental concerns. Authorized by the Environmental Stewardship and Watershed Protection Act, Growing Greener will spend more than 645 million
over the next five years for a variety of environmental projects. The Department of Environmental Protection has begun the allocation of nearly 240 million in grants for watershed restoration and protection, abandoned mine reclamation and abandoned oil and gas well plugging projects. Over
50 million is made available yearly for watershed restoration and protection activities. Growing Greener funds five categories of projects: organization of a watershed group, watershed assessments and development of watershed restoration or protection plans, implementation activities, demonstration
projects and education and outreach projects. Funding priorities are local watershed-based assessments and planning, TMDL implementation and other priority activities contained in the Commonwealth's Nonpoint Source Management Plan. Counties, local governments, watershed associations,
conservation districts and certain nonprofit groups are eligible to receive funds. First year accomplishments include 3,603 acres of wetlands and 117 miles of riparian buffers restored, clean up of 279 miles of streams impacted by acid mine drainage, reclamation of 800 acres of abandoned mine
lands and 43 miles of stream bank restoration. Growing Greener has also stimulated other new watershed program and financing initiatives to improve and accelerate the pace of watershed restoration and protection. A new mini-grant program is underway to provide seed money for start-up of
new watershed groups. Up to 2,000 can be obtained through a streamlined grant process for administrative and organizational expenses. A separate grant program has been developed to provide funds to service providers to offer various types of technical assistance to watershed groups or other
local sponsors. Legal counsel, data and program management, engineering and scientific expertise will be available at minimal cost to the local group. A program is being developed to provide funding and technical guidelines for operation, monitoring and long-term maintenance of treatment systems
and best management practices. Initiatives to minimize administrative costs and improve coordination include establishment of a Growing Greener Grants Center and developing a single grant application process for both Growing Greener and federal watershed programs for nonpoint source management
and source water protection.
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