Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Road Programs
The Lancaster County Conservation District administers the Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Roads Program in Lancaster County. This statewide conservation program was established in 1997 from an initiative by conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited. The program provides funding to municipalities and other entities to reduce sediment pollution to streams while improving the quality of unpaved and low-volume public roads.
In November 2013, the PA Transportation Funding Bill (Act 89 of 2013), made significant changes to Pennsylvania’s Dirt & Gravel Road Program.
Some of the biggest changes were a significant increase in funds for the program (from $4 million to $20 million annually), and a broadening of the program’s scope so that it also includes low-volume, paved public roads.
An additional $8 million was set aside for work on these paved or tar and chipped roads that have average daily traffic of less than 500 vehicles per day. Road owning entities must verify traffic counts according to the SCC policy.
Paved roads have been added because they likewise can present environmental challenges when they function as drainage collectors that carry stormwater, sediment, and other pollutants into our waterways. Many of the existing practices for unpaved roads apply to paved roads as well.
How Do I Apply for Funding?
The Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission provides the funding to implement Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance practices on unpaved and low volume roads, and the Lancaster County Conservation District administers these funds within Lancaster County.
Municipalities and other entities that own public roads are eligible to receive funds to perform Environmentally Sensitive Road Maintenance (ESM) on their roads if they are ESM certified by the Center for Dirt & Gravel Road Studies.
To apply for funds, a one-page application with a work plan for the proposed road site is submitted to the Lancaster county Conservation District. Each project is reviewed by the Conservation District’s technical staff to ensure that it meets the program requirements. Qualified project applications are then reviewed by the District’s Quality Assurance Board (QAB), which consists of one representative from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, and one representative from the District’s Board of Directors. Along with these representatives, the QAB also has several advisors that assist them in their allocation requests. The District Board of Directors, upon recommendation from the QAB, then awards road owning entities grants to use Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance (ESM) Practices on the roads to reduce sediment and other pollutants and thus improving our county’s watersheds.
Dates to Remember
February 12, 2021 - Dirt & Gravel Road Applications Due
March 2, 2021 - Dirt & Gravel Quality Assurance Board Meeting (5:30-7:30 PM @ Farm & Home Center)
August 13, 2021 - Low Volume Road Applications Due
September 1, 2021 - Low Volume Road Quality Assurance Board meeting (5:30-7:30 PM @ Farm & Home Center)
Grant Application Packet
Grant Application: One-page application submitted by the road-owning entity to the Conservation District. This becomes “Attachment A” to the contract between the Conservation District and the Grant Recipient.
Work Plan: Project sketch detailing proposed work. (On the back of the grant application form.) This becomes “Attachment B” to the contract between the Conservation District and the Grant Recipient.
Expenditure Sheets: Two OPTIMAL sheets, one for grant requested funds and one for in-kind contributions, that can be attached to the grant application if needed.
How Do I Become Eligible for Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Road Funds?
To qualify for funding, one member of the eligible entity (municipality, PENNDOT, etc.) must attend a no-cost, two-day Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance course presented by the Center for Dirt & Gravel Roads Studies.
This course is held at various locations throughout the state and is a classroom session focused on providing the knowledge and tools necessary for road owners to maintain roads in a cost efficient and environmentally sensitive manner. Click here for course dates, locations and registration information. At least one person from the eligible entity must attend the Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance course every five years to maintain program eligibility.
Upon completion of the Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance training, the qualified entity can apply to the Lancaster County Conservation District for funds to perform environmentally sensitive maintenance work on their roads.
The Lancaster County Conservation District will notify eligible applicants when a Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Grant Round is open to apply for funding. Applicants will be notified by regular first class U.S. mail and email.
The Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Roads Program is based on “Local Control” to allow Conservation Districts to tailor the Program to fit their local needs to the largest extent possible.
For more information about the Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Road Program visit the Center for Dirt &Gravel Roads Studies website. For local questions on the Dirt & Gravel/Low Volume Rds. Program contact Matthew Kofroth or Nate Straw.