Harkins, Merski: Nearly $1 million secured for Erie watershed protection, stream restoration projects

Will fund projects to install riparian buffers, restore part of Cascade Creek

ERIE, Jan. 12 – Nearly $1 million in new funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will support projects to restore a severely degraded Erie stream and help protect the Lake Erie watershed, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today.

The funding includes:  

  • $589,886 to Penn State University from the DEP Growing Greener Fund to restore a severely degraded portion of Cascade Creek in the city of Erie; and

  • $335,000 in DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program Tree Planting Grants to fund installation of riparian forest buffers, meadows and trees along waterways in the Lake Erie watershed, and the development of a tree inventory and tree-care workshops.

“Nurturing the health of our Lake Erie watershed is critical to our community as well as our economy,” Harkins said. “Among other things, the new funding is going to allow the city to install about two acres of riparian forest buffers and three acres of meadows and trees along waterways. Those measures – which will help reduce pollution, control erosion and protect delicate ecosystems – are vitally important to the health of our entire lake environment.”

Merski said, “Our communities have a special relationship with the lake and special responsibilities to preserve the delicate balance between land and water. One way we do that is by creating healthy buffers in the places where they meet to help them better resist pollution and erosion.

“Sediment loading from urban surroundings also poses major challenges to streams like Cascade Creek, portions of which have become severely degraded. Today’s funding is going to fund restoration efforts to continue reviving the health of the stream, which is more than 25% of the Presque Isle Bay watershed.” 

Funding for the $335,000 C2P2 grant comes from American Rescue Plan Act money appropriated to the Keystone Tree Fund in the state 2022-23 budget and other federal and state funds.

More information about the DEP funding is available here: https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/GrantsLoansRebates/Growing-Greener/Pages/default.aspx#:~:text=2021%20Grant%20Awards,through%20DEP's%20Growing%20Greener%20program.