Although not delegated from DEP to authorize stream permits, the District is often the first call to determine if permits are needed for stream, pond or wetland activities. A quick rule of thumb….if you are in or within 50 feet of a stream, body of water or wetland, you may need a permit for your activity (construction, bridges, culverts, grading, drainage, etc.).
Blair County Permits are issued through the DEP Southcentral Regional Office located at 909 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Questions regarding stream, pond or wetland activity may be directed to the Southcentral Regional Office via phone at (717) 705-4802. The Army Corps of Engineers also has jurisdiction in wetland activities, and they may be contacted at the Baltimore District PA Field Office by calling (814) 235-0570.
The Department has produced an excellent publication providing direction for maintaining streams in Pennsylvania and discussing when permits are needed. Similarly, ponds and wetlands have restrictions and permit requirements.
Our most frequently asked question is about funding. As a property owner with a stream, the cost of maintenance associated with that stream falls with the property owner much like repairs to a house or maintenance of a lawn or driveway. Property owners are not required to maintain a stream and may let nature take its course; however, without proper planning, the stream may conflict with the owner’s dreams for their property.
The District has in the past and will continue to seek opportunities for stream restoration and streambank stabilization funding. We have been most successful when we have first identified and assessed an area that has significant streambank erosion and sometimes flooding concerns. The biggest key to a successful project is local buy-in often from multiple property owners. Contact the Conservation District if you have a project area to propose.