Rep. Bizzarro applauds $497,500 for local water clean up

DEP grants target grape farming, McDannell Run restoration

ERIE, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, today announced two Erie County projects were awarded $497,500 as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Plus program.

The Erie County Conservation District was awarded $249,500 for the PA Vested in Environmental Sustainability, or PA VinES, Program, and the city of Erie will get $248,000 for the McDannell Run Restoration project.

“I’m excited by the investment in the PA VinES program,” Bizzarro said. “Our local wine industry is literally growing – the Lake Erie Watershed is great for grape production and helping the industry do it in a sustainable way ensures a bright future for us all.”

The program works with grape growers through a voluntary, proactive approach of looking at their operations for environmental and economic sustainability and supporting best practices that are found. The program will go on to create a certification and recognition program.

“The Pennsylvania Lake Erie Grape Region boasts approximately 10,000 acres of juice and wine grapes, making it the largest agricultural land use in the PA Lake Erie Basin,” said Erin Wells, DEP Northwest regional director. “The PA VinES program is a vital asset to the region, as it promotes sustainable viticulture practices for Concord and Niagara grape production in the Lake Erie Watershed.”

Growing Greener is the largest single investment of state funds in Pennsylvania's history to address Pennsylvania's critical environmental concerns of the 21st century. Statewide, more than $18 million has been awarded to fund over 60 projects to clean up waters. Growing Greener projects in the northwest region include projects addressing stream bank restoration and in-stream habitat improvements, assisting farmers to install best management practices to reduce agricultural runoff to streams and rivers, and reducing nutrient and sediment pollution in the Lake Erie Watershed.

“Erie County is blessed with so many natural resources, and I’m glad to see this money invested in our region to keep pollutants from spoiling it,” Bizzarro said.

More on the program can be found here.