News from across the Commonwealth
State dedicates solar installations at state parks
State officials are in the process of conducting a series of events to mark additions at state parks that are designed to make the parks energy-independent. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) manages more than 4,700 buildings within its system and strives to follow practices that conserve and sustain natural resources within those buildings.
Small-scale solar array installations are underway or already completed at Fort Washington State Park in Montgomery County, Mt. Pisgah State Park in Bradford County, Presque Isle State Park in Erie County, Moraine State Park in Butler County, Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset County, and Caledonia State Park in Franklin County.
Fawns more likely to survive in farmland than forest
Penn State University researchers have released the results of a study showing that while only about one-half of all white-tailed deer fawns live through their first year, they have a much better chance of surviving if they are born in farmland rather than in a forest.
Working with Pennsylvania Game Commission deer biologists, the researchers studied fawn survival in four areas of Pennsylvania, and also studied published data on 29 deer populations in 16 states.
They found landscapes with mixed forest and agricultural cover had lower rates of mortality due to predators when compared to forested landscapes. The study showed an estimated average survival to 6 months of age was about 41 percent in contiguous forest landscapes with no agriculture. For every 10 percent increase in land area in farmland, fawn survival increased by nearly 5 percent. Researchers classified mortality in three ways: human-caused (killed by machinery or vehicle collisions), natural (excluding predation) and predation. Predation was the greatest source of mortality in all areas.
Using radio collars placed on 98 fawns from 2015 to 2016 in Susquehannock State Forest in Potter County and in a second area encompassing parts of the Rothrock and Bald Eagle state forests in Centre, Mifflin and Huntingdon counties, researchers found fawn survival rates were just slightly higher than in other parts of the United States.
Another CNG fueling station opens at public transit agency site
A compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station recently opened at 13227 Dunham Road, Meadville, in Crawford County, marking the 12th of 29 planned fueling stations that have opened in Pennsylvania as part of a public-private partnership (P3).
Through the $84.5 million statewide P3 project, Trillium CNG is designing, building, financing, and will operate and maintain CNG fueling stations at 29 public transit agency sites through a 20-year, P3 agreement.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) overall P3 project includes CNG fueling accessible to the public at six transit agency sites, with the option to add sites. PennDOT will receive a 15 percent royalty, excluding taxes, for each gallon of fuel sold to the public at public sites, which will be used to support the cost of the project.
‘Big’ families make up 3 percent of rural families
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, recently studied “big” families, defined as having six or more members related by birth, marriage, or adoption, who are living together.
According to the 2016 data, big families made up 3 percent of rural Pennsylvania’s 1.06 million families. Nearly one in three rural big families was multigenerational (three generations living together), while on average, the rural big families included 3.6 children under 18 years old.
Center staff reports that across the United States there were nearly 3.89 million big families (5 percent of all families) in 2016. The states with the largest percentage of big families were Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, California and Idaho. In each of those states, more than 6 percent of the families had six or more family members living together. States with the lowest percentages of big families were Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, all of which had fewer than 3 percent of all families fitting the criteria for a big family. Pennsylvania ranked 32nd among the states in the percentage of big families.