Three grassroots environmental groups from Lancaster County will share more than $1.5 million for stream restoration from special environmental stewardship grants set up by the builder of a controversial proposed gas pipeline.
Oklahoma-based Williams, which wants to build the Atlantic Sunrise Central Penn Line South through Lancaster County, selected 17 projects in five counties to receive $2.5 million in one-time grants as part of the Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship Program.
Six of the projects selected are in Lancaster County and county groups are getting $1,512,900 of the $2,500,000 given out. Wyoming County also had six projects funded. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline would go through six counties.
Recipients here included Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Millcreek Preservation Association and Pequea Creek Watershed Association.
All the work funded by Williams involves repairing streams that have erosion and nutrient problems that affect local water quality as well as the Chesapeake Bay. Much of the work will be on Amish farms.
In creating the new grant program, Williams said it would be a way of showing that the nation’s largest pipeline company wanted to be a good neighbor and support communities affected by the pipeline that would run through 35 miles of Lancaster County.
“We believe that a project as unique and far-reaching as Atlantic Sunrise required an equally unique and significant demonstration of our willingness to step up and not only protect, but also enhance the natural resources of our project area,” Chris Springer, Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise project director, said Monday in announcing the grants.
But not everyone in Lancaster County welcomed the program with open arms. County Commissioner Craig Lehman urged the public to be “wary” and at least one large conservation group, the Lancaster County Conservancy, refused to participate.
Grants are going to:
• Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited, $500,900, to eliminate erosion and improve fish habitat on a quarter-mile section of Conowingo Creek on the Daniel Lapp farm in Fulton Township.
The work will include re-routing the stream that has moved to a new location due to fallen trees, causing severe erosion.
The group has been doing restoration work on the Conowingo for about seven years. The stream harbors wild brown trout and is open to fishing.
• Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited, $40,000, for restoration work on about 900 feet of Fishing Creek on Oregon Hollow Road in Drumore Township.
The work involves erosion work and moving the stream back to its original route. Fishing Creek is a wild trout stream.
• Donegal TU, $35,000, for restoration work on 2,900 feet of Climbers Run on the Camp Snyder property owned by the Lancaster County Conservancy near Pequea.
The stream has a wild brook trout population.
• Millcreek Preservation Association, a total of $647,000, for bank stabilization, planting a forest buffer and erecting streambank fencing to keep livestock out of the stream on Amish farms near the headwaters of Mill Creek on the Leacock-Upper Leacock township border.
The grant total is for two projects.
The association has about 400 members, the majority of whom are Plain Sect residents and landowners.
• Pequea Creek Watershed Association, $290,000, to restore a section of Big Beaver Creek on several Amish farms in Providence Township.
The association was formed several years ago and has a handful of members. This is their first big project.
Matt Koffroth, watershed coordinator for the Lancaster County Conservation District, noted that both Mill Creek and Big Beaver are classified by the state as impaired streams.
“The goal was to get some additional projects on the ground to improve their watersheds. These are opportunities to fix nutrient issues and hopefully get the streams delisted in the future.”
Williams partnered with The Conservation Fund to “provide an objective, scientifically-based identification and evaluation of natural resources stewardship needs.”