The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently announced a slate of 2019 grants for protecting land throughout the state. Fourteen of the projects, totalling $6.38 million, are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Combined, the DCNR grants will support protection of close to 7,300 acres in the watershed, with projects ranging in size from a small 2.7 acre city riverfront park to a single 2,450 acre property. The projects conserve open space and critical habitat, protect drinking water sources, expand public access and recreation, and conserve the Appalachian Trail corridor.

The grants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are part of a larger $14.3 million package of 41 land conservation projects DCNR is supporting statewide. The watershed’s portion of the total package represents approximately 45 percent of total funds and 73 percent of total acreage to be conserved. Grant recipients have several years to complete their projects. Final land protection actions will be added into the comprehensive Chesapeake Bay watershed land protection dataset in future years.

The DCNR Recreation and Conservation grant program is funded with a variety of state and federal funding sources including, the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Key 93) which includes Key-Community and Key-Land Trust; and state allocations from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). DCNR’s next round of land acquisition and other grants closes April 22, 2020. More information is available here.

The DCNR grants represent a portion of the Commonwealth’s annual investments in land conservation. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture allocates approximately $38 million in Farmland Preservation Program grants each year. For more information on state investments in land conservation, see the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership’s 2019 report Marking Milestones: Progress in Conserving Land in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Sustaining land protection funding sources like Pennsylvania’s Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund is vital to achieving Chesapeake Bay watershed land conservation goals and sustaining and enhancing the quality of life for watershed residents.