2011-02-26 / Potter County News

Potter County Conservation District: ‘Make or Break Time’

Economic issues dominated the dialogue as the Potter County Conservation District held its legislative luncheon last week at the Susquehannock Lodge.

State Representative Martin Causer and District Aide Chuck Dillon, representing Senator Joe Scarnati, each forecasted lean times ahead in terms of state funding.

“It’s a tough budget year, to say the least,” Rep. Causer said. Governor Tom Corbett’s campaign pledge to avoid tax increases has created a scramble in Harrisburg to protect certain programs at the same time the state faces a $3.2 billion budget deficit, Causer added. Spending cuts in programs affecting Potter County are inevitable, he said.

Staff and board members from the Conservation District made their case for state support in these lean times by detailing the district’s wide array of services, as well as their economic, environmental and educational benefits.

District Manager Chad Moshier pointed out that the agency has been able to “do more with less,” adjusting to reduced state support for two consecutive years. He added that more funding cuts in the state’s 2011-12 budget would cripple many of the district’s ongoing programs.

“It’s make or break for us,” Moshier said. “We’re at bare bones now.”

Among the district’s accomplishments Moshier cited for 2010 were:

• stabilization of almost 6,000 feet of streambanks, reducing annual sedimentation by 510 tons;

• outreach services to preserve farmland, improve practices, reduce nutrientenriched runoff and otherwise help agriculturalists;

• stabilization of dirt and gravel roads to protect waterways and benefit townships;

• dozens of reviews/inspections of erosion and sedimentation plans and other permit reviews/inspections;

• educational services involving school districts, agricultural operators and others.

Ken Comstock, a farmer who serves on the Conservation District Board of Directors, urged the lawmakers to support policies that protect agriculture, which remains Potter County’s biggest industry.

Well-intentioned regulations on farming practice are not always well thought out, Comstock observed. “I believe in regulations, and we can deal with regulations if they’re realistic, but that’s not always the case.”

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