PHILADELPHIA, PA, Mar. 1, 2011 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's mid-Atlantic region today announced that American Rivers has been selected to oversee $1.8 million in environmental grants for projects benefitting communities and rivers in specific parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia that comprise the Potomac Highlands.
The competitive grant program will support quality of life improvements in Potomac Highlands communities and protect the valuable ecosystems, some of which host the most diverse and globally important resources on Earth.
"The Potomac Highlands is a unique area that needs our attention. Many people have contributed their time, energy and ideas in developing a strategic plan for this area including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our state partners and a whole host of organizations," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "Great work has already been accomplished in the Highlands and with American Rivers on board, this awards programs will provide a significant boost in remediating and restoring this valuable ecosystem."
Under a cooperative agreement with EPA, American Rivers will design and implement a competitive awards program designed to fund approximately 10 projects with between $150,000 and $300,000 each. All projects must be located within the Potomac Highlands and must specifically and measurably protect, improve, and/or restore the valuable ecological resources and services of the Potomac Highlands ecosystem.
American Rivers, founded in 1973, is a leading conservation organization that works to protect and restore the nation's rivers and clean water.
The Potomac Highlands region is rich in natural and cultural heritage where the environment plays an important role in the quality of life. The highlands are home to turkey, bobcat, black bear, and other species. It is an important migratory flyway for geese, ducks and songbirds. And the forests, which make valuable contributions to ecological diversity, provide an estimated 186,000 jobs in the timber industry. The Potomac Highlands, while rich in natural and cultural resources, has seen its share of ecological damage.
Congress directed EPA to establish and implement the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Action Program by working with other federal agencies, states, local governments and non-governmental organizations. In 2006, the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia joined the program. Using the best available science, the goal is to improve the natural resources and socio-economic conditions in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. More recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided support for the state programs.
To date, 20 educational and restoration projects have been implemented. For more information, click on http://www.epa.gov/reg3esd1/highlands-plan.html.