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Shale fees to benefit southwestern Pennsylvania conservation districts

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Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 7:46 p.m.
 

Five southwestern Pennsylvania counties will receive $272,000 in state grants funded by Marcellus shale drilling fees to promote local conservation efforts.

The grants are from the state Unconventional Gas Well Fund, created by the Legislature in 2012 to help all county conservation districts continue services.

Conservation districts statewide will equally share $1.5 million in block grants. Another $1.5 million is distributed through a formula based on the number of gas wells in a region.

The Washington County Conservation District will receive $83,758, the third-highest amount in the state. Greene County receives $69,871. Westmoreland County receives $50,341, while Allegheny and Beaver counties will each receive more than $34,000, according to an announcement last week.

“These grants will help fund the important work of county conservation districts,” said State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg. “Learning better ways to use and save resources while teaching stewardship to citizens is an important part of our effort to preserve and improve the environment of the region.”

Pennsylvania's conservation districts were created in 1945 to work with departments of state government, private businesses, farmers and educators to encourage good planning and to educate the community on the best ways to preserve natural resources, Solabay said.

Act 13 provides the first dedicated funding source for conservation districts.

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