More than 14k acres of Pa. farmland preserved in 2021 | Five for the Weekend

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed 166 conservation easements, covering 14,397 acres in 2021

By: - December 18, 2021 6:30 am

Happy weekend, all.

A bit of good news to end the year on: Pennsylvania led the nation in farm preservation in 2021, the state Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The department said that the commonwealth has approved 166 conservation easements, covering 14,397 acres in 2021, including 30 new farms preserved this week.

“Preserving farmland is an investment in feeding all of our families in the future,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a statement. “It is one of the most important investments we make together, at every level of government, to ensure the security of our economy, our jobs, our communities and our environment.”

The 30 new farms preserved this week are located in Beaver, Berks, Blair, Cambria, Chester, Dauphin, Erie, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Union, Westmoreland, and York counties.

Established in 1988, the Farmland Preservation Program has purchased permanent conservation easements on 5,979 Pennsylvania farms, covering 606,215 acres in 58 counties, according to a statement from the department.

As always, your Top 5 Most-Read Stories of the week start below.

Kyle Rittenhouse (Getty Images)

1. Stop calling Kyle Rittenhouse a hero. He killed two unarmed people | Bruce Ledewitz

Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three men at a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killing two of them, was acquitted of all criminal charges.

He has been hailed as a hero. He has been feted by politicians, including Donald Trump. He has been compared to John Wayne as a symbol of law-abiding people fighting back against lawlessness. When he took a rifle to a protest over the earlier police *shooting of Jacob Blake, Rittenhouse said his intention was to protect property against violence.

But the two men Rittenhouse killed were unarmedJohn Wayne never shot an unarmed man.

Rittenhouse was acquitted because of changes in the legal understanding of self-defense in recent years. Based on the Rittenhouse verdict, the rest of us are now unsafe around anyone with a gun.

A proposed Pa. congressional map drawn by Amanda Holt.

2. Pa. House Republicans pick citizen map submission as draft congressional plan

House Republicans released a first draft of Pennsylvania’s 17 congressional districts Wednesday afternoon, using a map with just a handful of municipal splits drawn by a redistricting advocate as their preliminary proposal.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, chairperson of the House State Government Committee, which is tasked with redrawing the lines, told the Capital-Star that he was sure the map would change over the course of negotiations with the state Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

The map has to pass both chambers, controlled by Republicans, and be signed by Wolf, a Democrat, to become law.

State Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny (Photo via The Pittsburgh Current/Twitter)

3. W. Pa. Rep. Austin Davis to enter Pa. Lt. Gov race with Dem Josh Shapiro’s backing

Josh Shapiro is expected to tap a western Pennsylvania state representative to be his running mate in 2022.

Shapiro, the state’s attorney general and, so far, the Democrats’ only candidate for governor in 2022, will publicly endorse state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, as his pick for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks, Democratic sources told the Capital-Star on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Davis, first elected in a 2018 special election, represents a diverse district in the Monongahela Valley southeast of Pittsburgh, including both majority Black boroughs and white working class enclaves.

The legacy of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 continues to reverberate nine years later, including in how conspiracy theories have changed since the tragedy (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images/The Conversation).

4. Sandy Hook Anniversary: Conspiracy theories are worse and more mainstream than ever | Opinion

Conspiracy theories are powerful forces in the U.S. They have damaged public health amid a global pandemic, shaken faith in the democratic process and helped spark a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.

These conspiracy theories are part of a dangerous misinformation crisis that has been building for years in the U.S.

American politics has long had a paranoid streak, and belief in conspiracy theories is nothing new. But as the news cycle reminds us daily, outlandish conspiracy theories born on social media now regularly achieve mainstream acceptance and are echoed by people in power.

Gov. Tom Wolf and state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, talk before a press conference on voting rights on June 9, 2021. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

5. Street says Senate congressional draft is fair, protects minority voters; Democrats say he sold out

Facing social media scorn and internal party outrage, the lead Democratic architect of a negotiated map of Pennsylvania’s new congressional districts is defending the work product.

State Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, cautioned that the map, made public on Wednesday night, is a draft and that negotiations with Senate State Government Committee Chairperson Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill, are ongoing. Street is the panel’s ranking Democrat.

And that’s the week. See you all back here next weekend.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.