The Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Road Program began in 1997 from an initiative by Trout Unlimited in conjunction with Penn State University’s Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads, the State Conservation Commission and local Conservation Districts. The goal of the program is to reduce pollution to nearby streams while improving the rural road network. One of the qualification requirements of the Program is to direct funding to “worksites” where road runoff is affecting water quality of the nearby stream. As a result of Act 89 (PA Gas Tax), additional funding has been allocated to the program which will now include Low Volume Roads (<500 vehicles per day). Technical Assistance is available and provided by the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road studies and the BCCD.
Program Monetary Assistance
Each Conservation District will receive funding from the State Conservation Commission through the PADEP. The Berks County Conservation District (BCCD) has received almost $290,000 for the upcoming Program year (2015). Approximately $80,000 towards Dirt and Gravel roads and $210,000 for Low Volume roads.
If a municipality is interested in applying to the program to receive funding for a project, applicants are to prepare and submit a grant application to the BCCD requesting the amount of funding required and any “in-kind” contributions to be allocated towards the project. Up to 50% of the contact amount may be advanced to grant recipients once a contract is signed. Projects greater than $25,000 are subject to provisions of Pennsylvania’s Prevailing Wage Act (1961, August 15, P. L. 987, No. 442), 43 P. S. Section 165-1 et seq. A Contract Amendment must be completed and signed by both entities if project cost overruns totaling 20% or less of the initial contract amount.
Quality Assurance Board
A Quality Assurance Board (QAB) has been created in by the Berks County Conservation District to establish and administer the grant program. The QAB is responsible to encourage local cooperation with environmental quality goals, to provide adequate opportunity for public input, and to ensure participation amongst a wide spectrum of environmental expertise at all levels of government.
The four-member QAB meets monthly and is comprised of:
A non-voting chairman appointed by the Berks Conservation District Directors
One local representative appointed by each of the following entities:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (federal)
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (state)
The Berks County Conservation District (local)