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More Changes In Store For DCNR’s Research Program

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Specialty license plates help fund the Wild Resource Conservation Program

Earlier this year, we told you the how Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reduced the budget for a wildlife research program by nearly 70 percent.

DCNR Secretary Richard Allan argued the program was paying for duplicative efforts; critics saw the cuts as a way to marginalize research into climate change and natural gas drilling.

It appears more changes are in store for the Wild Resource Conservation Program, which provides grants to Pennsylvania researchers.

According to a memo obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania, the department will increase the matching requirements for future grants from 10 to 50 percent. That means researchers will need to pony up more money – or “in-kind matches” —  in order to receive state funding.

In the document distributed to the Wild Resource Conservation Fund Board – these are the legislators and cabinet secretaries who vote on funding projects – Allan says the program’s existing matching level “is very low” compared to other grant programs. A higher threshold will lead to “more quality projects,” he argues.

“The intention was to bring the WRCP grants in line with the match required in our Community Conservation Partnership Program,” explained DCNR spokeswoman Christina Novak in an email, “and extend our limited funds by leveraging other state and federal grant dollars, which are often used as a match.”

Research advocates worry the higher bar may exclude smaller schools and institutions from applying for grants. Novak said that’s where the “non-cash match” comes in. That, she wrote, can include “a calculation of staff and volunteer time on a project.”

Here’s the full memo:

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