PA House Democratic Policy Committee Holds Hearings on Riparian Buffers

April 2010Newsletters In The Zone

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At the request of Pennsylvania State Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith (D-Chester County), the State House Democratic Policy Committee held a March 8 legislative hearing on the effectiveness of forested riparian buffers in protecting the receiving stream. Most testifiers came from environmental organizations, however the regulated community was represented by the Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA).

The impact of forested buffers along waterways was discussed including their benefit to habitat improvement, stream bank stabilization, sediment pollution reduction and reduced stream temperatures. The hearing was timely in that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, through the Environmental Quality Board, has published proposed regulations that seek to establish a 150-foot forested riparian buffer along all exceptional value (EV) streams. And as proposed, the regulation could impact the 3,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s EV streams, or more. And, the use of buffers will likely be expanded even further as the regulatory promulgation process progresses.

The PBA testified to its objection to mandatory buffer requirements because of the impact they would have to job creation and job development. And, they suggested an offset program that would be funded by builders and would allow them to pay for off-site improvements as an offset to their potential nutrient loads.

For more information, please contact RobertW. Gundlach, Jr. at 215.918.3636 or [email protected].