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Many destinations for NFWF grant

A recently announced $664,000 grant that will pay up to half the cost of stormwater projects and will help with projects to improve soil health.

Some of the Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant funds provided to the Blair County Conservation District by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is going for Intergovernmental Stormwater Committee projects designed to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into Brush Run from the lake at Lakemont; the Beaverdam Branch of the Juniata River near the Altoona Water Authority’s Westerly Sewer Treatment Plant; Brush Run through Sylvan Hills Golf Course; the Beaverdam Branch at the Conservation District’s NatureWorks Park and the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River at River Road, according to ISC stormwater coordinator Chelsey Ergler.

Other money from the grant will help pay for creation of rain gardens and other “green infrastructure” to keep sediment out of streams in other municipalities than the 10 urbanized ones in the ISC, according to conservation district ombudsman Beth Futrick.

There will be workshops where municipal workers and supervisors can learn about best management practices, along with funding to buy materials and pay for design, according to Futrick.

Other money from the new grant will help farmers reduce the flow of stormwater and its associated sediment and nutrients from cropland and farm lanes, Futrick said.

The problem of runoff from farm lanes has been widely overlooked, she said.

“Water bars,” which are like speed humps on streets but are slanted, direct water to the side, into grassy swales, where it can soak in.

Otherwise, the water can run out onto public roads, where it can find its way into streams, Futrick said.

Some of the new grant money will pay for conservation district personnel to talk with farmers about rotational grazing and cover crops and about practices that decrease runoff and increase water infiltration into soils — all to boost soil health, Futrick said.

Healthy soil acts like a sponge to take in water, she said. Hardpan soil, from which water runs off quickly, isn’t healthy.

About $200,000 of the new grant will go for ISC projects.

About $162,000 will go for “buffers” and “green infrastructure implementation” in non-ISC municipalities.

About $211,000 will go for the work on farms.

About $16,000 will go for a stream monitoring project.

And $74,000 will go for Conservation District staff time.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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