Penn. DEP announces $1.3M to protect state's coastal zones

Penn. Environmental Protection Sec. Kathleen A. McGinty announces $1.3 million in federal and state grant money for projects intended to protect and enhance Pennsylvania's coastal zones while reducing conflict between competing land and water uses. This includes $94,000 for the Erie-Western PA Port Authority...

ERIE, PA, July 26, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- Penn. Environmental Protection Sec. Kathleen A. McGinty today announced $1.3 million in federal and state grant money for projects intended to protect and enhance Pennsylvania's coastal zones while reducing conflict between competing land and water uses.

"When I visit Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary shorelines, I am struck by the inseparable dynamics of abundant natural resources and community life," McGinty said while announcing $94,000 in grants for the Erie-Western PA Port Authority. "Diverse elements such as port development, tourism, recreation, research and education, environmental protection and restoration, and business and industrial development all depend upon and enhance our coastal resources. That makes sound management programs essential."

The Erie-Western PA Port Authority plans to use a $45,000 Coastal Zone Management Program grant to help restore the authority's 1930s-era boathouse to provide space for a small boat rental service. Authority Executive Director Ray Schreckengost stressed that this will mark the first time in recent history that the public will be able to rent small sailboats and motorboats on the city side of Presque Isle Bay.

"The Coastal Zone Management Program fills the gap between large commercial development and smaller development usually carried out by municipalities," Schreckengost said as he joined McGinty at the boathouse for the grant announcement. "The grant will allow us to expand and enhance the public's waterfront experience in Erie alongside larger commercial bayfront development."

The authority will use a second $49,000 grant for enhancements to the Cherry Street Marina. The marina has two break walls totaling 1,580 feet. The break walls provide an unobstructed view of Presque Isle Bay and the state park, as well as provide access to fishing in the bay. The authority will develop an enhanced 22-foot-wide walkway with low-level lighted bollards, two covered picnic pavilions with seating, trash receptacles, benches and safety features such as life rings and safety ladders to provide greater public access and enhance the views.

The coastal zone is the area where the land meets the sea and includes both coastal waters and adjacent shorelands. These areas face increasing pressure from development, shoreline erosion, biodiversity losses and nonpoint source pollution. Pennsylvania has two coastal areas: 63 miles of coastline along Lake Erie and 57 miles of coastline along the Delaware Estuary.

The Lake Erie coastal zone is located within Erie County and includes the shorelines of major tributaries. The coastal zone also extends to the middle of the lake to the boundary with Canada and inland 900 feet within the city of Erie. The lake also contains Presque Isle State Park and is one of the state ports for international shipping.

The Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone lies within Bucks, Philadelphia and Delaware counties. The coastal zone also contains islands, marshes and shorelands of tributary streams that are tidally influenced. The combined facilities of the Delaware Estuary comprise the largest freshwater port in the world.

The Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program provides grants and technical assistance to local governments and state agencies to help improve public access, protect natural resources, expand strategies to improve local economies, promote proper planning and conserve coastal resources.

The majority of Coastal Zone Management grants are funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from money made available by the U.S. Congress. Grant recipients include local governments, nonprofit organizations and state agencies. Since the program's federal approval in 1980, the Pennsylvania Coastal Zone Management Program has provided over $50 million in funding for coastal zone projects.

For more information on DEP's Coastal Zone Management Program, visit DEP's Web site at www.dep.state.pa.us, Keyword: "Coastal Zone."

For the full list of grant recipients and their watershed protection projects, see: www.dep.state.pa.us/newsreleases/default.asp?ID=3547&varQueryType=Detail.

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