Eligible Projects

Projects will benefit fishing, boating and the aquatic resources of the following counties:

  • Cameron
  • McKean
  • Elk
  • Potter

Eligible projects must occur on lands owned by the applicant in fee simple or where the applicant has a long-term lease or other agreement with the landowner for the site.

The nature and the duration of the applicant’s interest in the property will be determined by the project type.

About SWGP

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Sinnemahoning Stakeholders Committee

The Sinnemahoning Stakeholders Committee (SSC) was formed through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D). The SSC is responsible for the management and distribution of funds derived from a civil settlement between the DEP and Norfolk Southern Railway as a result of a sodium hydroxide spill that took place on June 30, 2006 (see below). The SSC accepts grant applications for projects that are located specifically within the Sinnemahoning Watershed. The projects are then reviewed by the SSC for approval and then taken to the Headwaters Council meeting for a vote on approving the recommended projects.


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Norfolk Southern Train Derailment

On June 30, 2006, approximately 31 rail cars of a train operated by Norfolk Southern Corporation derailed near Gardeau, in Norwich Township, McKean County, Pennsylvania. The spill caused an environmental catastrophe unprecedented in scope and destruction for the region. The derailment caused a release of 48,000 gallons of Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) into Big Fill Hollow. Streams affected include Big Fill Hollow, Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek, and the Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. Effects to the area included: fish kill, macro-invertebrate kill, vegetation kill, reptile and amphibian kill, and some reports of terrestrial wildlife with burns.

The once-pristine waters were now severely contaminated; leading the DEP and Fish and Boat Commission to take action against Norfolk Southern. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Norfolk Southern reached a settlement agreement. As part of the settlement, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay the Commonwealth $7,350,000 as restitution for the natural resource damages that occurred. The Commission received one-half of that amount or $3,675,000 and under the settlement must utilize the funds (minus its investigative and response costs of $93,000) for purposes of developing and implementing projects that benefit recreational fishing and boating and the aquatic resources of Cameron, McKean, Elk, and Potter counties. Thousands of tons of contaminated soil that had been saturated with NaOH was removed and clean fill was brought in to replace it. Additionally, the entire area was then re-vegetated with native plants and trees. The rest is up to mother nature. It has been estimated that it would take at least 7 years for the stream to recover. Although improvements are evident, but recovery is still ongoing.