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Governor Corbett unveils 2011-12 budget
Governor Tom Corbett presented his 2011-12 budget to the state legislature March 8—a budget that is balanced and does not raise taxes for the residents of Pennsylvania.

“I’m proposing something we haven’t had in a long time: a reality-based budget,” Corbett said. “To the people of Pennsylvania, the taxpayers who sent us here, I want to say something you haven’t heard often enough from this building: We get the picture. It’s your money.”

Specifically, the new, $27.3 billion budget focuses on improving four key elements: fiscal discipline, free enterprise, limited government and reform. Read more...

DCNR announces funding to help volunteer firefighters
With the approach of spring and the increased risk of forest and brush fires across the state, the DCNR this week announced federal grants are available to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities better guard against the threat of fires in forested, undeveloped and unprotected areas.

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Governor Corbett proclaims March 13-19 Wildfire Prevention Week
Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed March 13-19 Wildfire Prevention Week in Pennsylvania, noting that rapidly-changing weather can quickly create tinderbox conditions despite recent rain. Read more...

Grants for business signs in PA Wilds
A popular mini-grant program that helps businesses in the Pennsylvania Wilds region pay for new business signage has re-opened and is accepting applications through April 15. . Read more...

Partners announce “Plant One Million”multi-state tree-planting campaign
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its partners in three states today announced the groundwork for “Plant One Million,” the nation’s largest, multi-state tree-planting campaign. This new initiative to plant one million trees will focus on the 13 counties in the Greater Philadelphia region, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. Read more...

Also in the News

Trails effort aids cavity-nesting species
Dedicated volunteers and state park staff across the state again extended a major helping hand to the Eastern bluebird and other cavity-nesting species, boosting their numbers by more than 5,400 last year, according to the 2010 Bureau of State Parks Cavity-Nesting Trails Summary Report. An estimated 2,300 Eastern bluebirds were fledged at state parks in spring 2010, along with 3,130 other cavity-nesting species. Both are an increase in the numbers of fledglings from 2009. Since the program started in 1981, volunteers have fledged over 54,000 eastern bluebirds and 34,000 other cavity-nesting species.

At the annual Cavity-Nesting Monitors Meeting earlier this year, the late Terry Wentz, former park manager of Canoe Creek State Park and head of that park’s cavity-nesting program, was awarded Monitor of the Year posthumously. Wentz was the motivating force to get the cavity-nesting trail at Canoe Creek, Blair County, up and running. For over 20 years as park manager, Wentz was instrumental in erecting over 100 nesting boxes up, soliciting and working with volunteers, and accumulating nesting data during that time. As a result, the park has a high fledgling success rate and a dedicated team for monitoring. Presently, there are 50 trails operating and maintained at the 117 state parks.

For details on establishing a trail at a state park near you, contact Environmental Education Specialist Tara Gettig at (717) 783-3344.

New fund launched to support landowner conservation practices
A new million-dollar grant program for private landowners in the upper Delaware River Basin to implement watershed forestry practices was launched today at Forest owners in three states will be eligible to receive financial assistance for implementing sustainable forest management projects on their property.

The Common Waters Fund will provide incentives to qualifying landowners to implement forest stewardship plans, watershed forestry management practices, and/or conservation easements over the next two years. The first quarterly deadline for applying is May 2nd and the first grants will be made in June. The initial financing for the Fund comes from the United States Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The Common Waters Fund is one of several pilot programs they are supporting, with the aim of linking “forest and faucets” around the country.

Grants up to $25,000 will be available for eligible landowners, qualified land trusts and timber harvesting operators for forest stewardship plans, forest management practices, conservation easements and timber bridges. Interested landowners should visit here to learn more about eligibility and program requirements and to download an application.

Game Commission releases 2010-2011 deer harvest estimates
The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently reported that hunters harvested an estimated 316, 240 deer in the state’s 2010-11 seasons—an increase of two percent from the previous seasons’ harvest of 308,920. Hunters took 122,930 antlered deer in the 2010-11 seasons, an increase of 13 percent from the previous license year’s harvest of 108,330. Also, hunters harvested 193,310 antlerless deer in 2010-11, which is a decrease of four percent from the 200,590 antlerless deer taken in 2009-10.

“The 2010-11 antlered deer harvest of 122,930 is slightly above average based on when the Game Commission began to stabilize deer population trends in most of the state in 2005,” said Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. “Antlered deer harvests increased by 20 percent or more in Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2F, 2G, 3D, 4C, 4D and 5C. In fact, in WMUs 2C and 2G, the antlered harvest increased by 31 percent.”

Roe noted the decrease in the antlerless harvest reflects the reduction in the number of antlerless deer licenses allocated for the 2010-11 seasons, as well as the shortened antlerless deer hunting opportunities in eight Wildlife Management Units. Those WMUs were: 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. “Given the reduced allocations and shortened antlerless deer seasons, a lower antlerless harvest was expected,” Roe said. “Despite the reduced antlerless deer harvests, antlerless deer hunter success rates remained near 25 percent. This is on average with harvest success rates for the last five years.”

Tree geneticist receives $3.7 million grant for hardwoods research
A plant geneticist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop genomics resources to address forest-health issues affecting hardwood trees.

John Carlson, professor of molecular genetics in the college's School of Forest Resources, is principal investigator on the project, "Comparative Genomics of Environmental Stress Responses in North American Hardwoods," funded by the NSF Plant Genome Research Program. Penn State researchers will collaborate with those at six other universities on the project: University of Notre Dame, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Missouri, Clemson University, Michigan Technological University and University of West Alabama. Director of the Schatz Center for Tree Molecular Genetics, Carlson explained that the research is needed because of the increasing incidence of introduced exotic pests, diseases and invasive plants—combined with climate change and forest fragmentation—threatening the sustainability of forest ecosystems.

According to Carlson, goals for the research include developing new gene-sequence databases for six species: sweet gum, honey locust, black walnut, sugar maple, black gum and green ash; creating "genetic linkage maps" for five species: yellow poplar, sweet gum, honey locust, northern red oak and black walnut; and assembling genomic DNA libraries for six species: sweet gum, honey locust, black walnut, sugar maple, green ash and northern red oak.

Agency Spotlight

William Penn State Forest
It may come as a suprise that the southeastern part of the state has a state forest district. Read more...

Upcoming Events

Hot Cocoa Geocaching Hike at Moraine State Park
A Get Outdoors PA eventMarch 19. Held 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. We’re going to follow an easy trail through the woods of Moraine State Park as we search for prizes using GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers. As the GPS units communicate with satellites in space, they will guide you to within feet of the treasure at which point you and your fellow treasure hunters will fan out and try to find its hiding place. We will provide GPS units to share on this beginner outing. We'll cover 3 miles with a couple hills. The minimum age for this activity is 8 years old. After geocaching we'll gather around for some hot cocoa by the lake. Registration required. Costs are $18 for non-members, $12 for members, and $8 for kids.

March 16, 2011

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