WILLIAMSPORT – State Sen. Gene Yaw today hosted Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, Pennsylvania Secretary of Environmental Protection Patrick McDonnell and representatives from five state agencies, the Fish and Boat Commission and Lycoming County’s conservation district for a tour of area streams and waterways, as well as surrounding infrastructure in light of persistent and heavy flooding in recent years.
“For years, I have been advocating for changes to current state regulations for stream maintenance,” Yaw said. “We need to find a better way to manage our waterways from a practical and monetary standpoint. As someone who has lived here my entire life, I wanted our state policy makers to see first-hand what area residents have been experiencing and how we can fix the flooding issues effectively and efficiently.”
Following the devastation from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, Senator Yaw chaired a public hearing of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania that included state and local elected officials from Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan and Susquehanna counties. The hearing allowed members of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, local businesses and residents to provide comments and concerns related to stream maintenance.
Yaw sees today’s meeting as another step in bridging the gap between local and state mitigation and stream restoration efforts. “Standing together, I believe we can achieve real progress and work to improve and enhance our state’s existing laws and regulatory requirements.”
State Rep. Garth Everett, agrees. “I think getting all the major players from the many agencies involved in one way or another with the health of our streams and creeks out of Harrisburg and into the wilds to see a few examples of the damage done by floods in the past few years first-hand really helps everybody focus in on the problem,” Rep. Everett said. “From our discussions while viewing the flood damaged streams, I think there was a consensus that we have the expertise and knowledge to remediate streams but that we lack a central hub to coordinate the multiple programs and funding sources already available. Hopefully our tour and discussions today will facilitate solutions in Harrisburg.”
State officials present included state Rep. Garth Everett; Secretary Russell Redding, Department of Agriculture; Secretary Pat McDonnell, Department of Environmental Protection; Marcus Kohl (DEP Northcentral Regional Director); Jake Carson (DEP Northcentral T-21 Engineer); Dan Vilello (DEP Northcentral Legislative Liaison); Thomas Ford, Director of Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, DCNR; Wes Fahringer, Recreation and Parks Advisor, DCNR; Rick Vilello, Deputy Secretary Community Affairs & Development, DCED; Evelyn Chianelli, Executive Assistant to Deputy Secretary Vilello, DCED; Eric High, ADE, from D-3, PennDOT; Rich Roman, Director, Bureau of Maintenance and Operations, PennDOT; Tim Schaeffer, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission; Tom Shervinskie, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission; Steve Bekanich, Deputy Director for Preparedness, PEMA; Karl Brown, State Conservation Commission, and more.
Also joining Senator Yaw on the tour was Herman Logue of Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc.-Northcentral Region Office and Joseph L. Reighard, Gamble Township Supervisor, who provided insight into some of the challenges from a local perspective and staff from the Lycoming County Conservation District.