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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to our most frequently asked questions. 

If you still need assistance, please call the office at (717) 334-0636.


Follow this flow chart to see what type of plan is needed. 
A written Ag E&S Plan is required for agricultural plowing and tilling activities(including no-till practices) and Animal Heavy Use Areas (AHUA-areas that do not maintain vegetation due to animal use/traffic) that each disturb land totaling 5,000 square feet or more. 

The plan documents the Best Management Practices (BMPs) used to address current and potential cropland soil loss due to erosion i.e. tillage used; crop rotation; grassed waterways; diversions; terraces, etc.   

Every farm in Pennsylvania that land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer), regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written MMP.

This includes manure or agricultural process wastewater application by various types of equipment and/or direct application of manure by animals on pastures and in Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs-areas that do not maintain vegetation due to heavy animal use/traffic).  This regulation and requirements includes “backyard operations” with a small amount of land and animals, i.e. a few chickens in a residential yard.  

Concentrated animal operations (CAOs) are required to develop, implement, and maintain a nutrient management plan.

Concentrated animal operations are defined as agricultural operations where the animal density of all livestock on the farm exceeds 2,000 lbs. of animal(s) per acre on an annualized basis. This definition includes all livestock, including nonproduction animals such as horses used for recreation and transportation. An operation with fewer than 8,000 lbs. of animals is not considered to be a CAO, regardless of the animal density.

The fact sheet about PA's Nutrient Management Act from Penn State Extension provides additional information, definitions, and an animal density example calculation of an agricultural operation to determine if it is a CAO.

Winter manure application is not prohibited in Pennsylvania, however farms are obligated to follow their manure or nutrient management plan to identify additional requirements such as a crop residue or cover crop requirement, increased manure application setback from sensitive areas, and/or reduced manure application rate.

A field by field evaluation should be made to determine the suitability of winter spreading.

Incorporating manure into the soil through plowing is not a standard requirement in Pennsylvania.

Farms are obligated to follow their manure or nutrient management plan that may identify manure incorporation as one of many options for manure application. Farms must also ensure any manure incorporation that occurs is consistent with their agricultural erosion and sedimentation plan.
Check with the municipality where you wish to locate or re-locate horses. This is covered by local zoning and other ordinances.

In Pennsylvania, all animal operations that use or generate manure, including horse owners, are required to develop and Implement a manure management plan at minimum.

Stormwater, Runoff, and BMPs

The Conservation District will respond to and investigate water runoff complaints from active earth disturbance activities. The Conservation District has no legal authority relating to runoff complaints from sump pumps, roof water discharges and lot grading. These issues are generally brought to the attention of local municipality who may be able to assist, but these issues are best dealt with by civil means.

The Penn State Extension has put together a Homeowner's Guide to Best Management Practices.

Visit the Stormwater Management Information for Homeowner Associations page, which includes links to residential SWM and vegetation-related resources. 

Streams and Ponds

No, not without a permit.

DEP's has created a booklet which lists activities that may or may not require DEP notification, pre-approval, and/ or permits: 

Guidelines for Maintaining Streams in Your Community


Please review our Pond Packet

To determine if it is possible to construct a pond on your property, several items must be checked prior to beginning any earth moving activities:

Step 1:  Verify if your proposed pond is a "jurisdictional" pond and will require a Dam Safety permit. You can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Southcentral Regional Office at (717) 705-4802 for more information.

Step 2:  Confirm the presence or absence of jurisdictional wetlands located within or close to your limits of disturbance.

Step 3:  Determine the source of water for the proposed pond. If your intake is from a nearby stream you will need to complete a GP-4 application (Chapter 105 General Permit for Intake and Outfall Structures).

  • Additionally, determine the outlet location for the over-flow from the pond.
  • Depending on the location of the outfall you may need to include this information within the GP-4. A single GP-4 application can cover both an intake and an outfall.
  • A GP-4 application can be downloaded from DEP's website.
  • Consider the location of a new concentrated discharge point and the neighboring property receiving this water.

Step 4:  Check with your local municipality for any local floodplain concerns or local ordinances that may impact your proposed pond project.

Step 5:  Erosion and Sediment (E&S) Control must be incorporated into the earth disturbance activity. If the pond excavation would exceed one acre (43,560 square feet) in surface (length x width) then an NPDES permit is required. Please seek out a local consulting firm who deals with land development projects.


Start with the Floodplains tab of the Explore Adams web application.
  • Click on the Floodplain Report icon and search for the location.
  • Once the location of the parcel is selected, click the Report button and select Print.
  • A general map and parcel information will be prepared to download or print.
Adams County can not make a determination of whether your property is in a floodplain. We can provide FEMA's floodplain data in relation to our parcels. This will be helpful when comparing to a FEMA Flood Map.

Next, create a firmette from the FEMA Map Service Center (MSC). The MCS is the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

Together these products provide a better indication of where a floodplain may be located on a property. 
In Pennsylvania, floodplains are regulated by the local municipality.
  • Each municipality participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is required to adopt a Floodplain Ordinance to regulate development within a floodplain. Development activities require a permit.
  • All municipalities in Adams County, except for New Oxford Borough, participate in the NFIP.
Please contact the municipality to determine what can be done in a floodplain. You may also read the the municipal floodplain ordinance.
  • Most municipal ordinance are available on the Borough or Township website.
  • The standard ordinance definition of "Development" to meet the minimum requirements of the NFIP and PA Floodplain Management Act:
    • Development - any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to the construction, reconstruction, renovation, repair, expansion, or alteration of buildings or other structures; the placement of manufactured homes; streets, and other paving; utilities; filling, grading and excavation; mining; dredging; drilling operations; storage of equipment or materials; and the subdivision of land.
The Floodway is defined as - The portion of the 100-year floodplain including the watercourse itself and an adjacent land area that must be kept open in order to carry the water of a 100-year flood. At a minimum, a floodway must be large enough to carry the water of the 100-year flood without causing an increase of more than 1 foot in the elevation of the existing 100-year flood (as defined by Chapter 113 Floodplain Management of the PA Code)
Certain activities that occur within the floodway are regulated by PA DEP. Most streams do not have the actual floodway mapped/surveyed.

In lieu of the lack of mapped floodway, PADEP assumes the floodway to be 50’ wide from each side of streambank. See diagram. The actual floodplain may be smaller in width but the surveyed study is generally cost prohibitive for most residents.

Diagram of a floodway

Most activities in or near a stream or its adjacent floodway are regulated by PA DEP's Chapter 105 Dam Safety and Waterway Management Program and usually require some kind of permit or notification.

Mosquitos, Dead Birds, and West Nile Virus

Visit DEPs West Nile Virus Control Program page and expand the "WNV and Birds" tab.

PA DEP Dead Bird Reporting Form

Products and Services

Yes! We sell pre-assembled 55 gallon rain barrels for $53. Please note, we only accept checks.
Yes, click here to view the product brochure. Please note, we only accept checks. 

Call the Conservation District with questions: 717-334-0636
The Conservation District has partnered with LABS, Inc in New Oxford to provide water testing. View our Services web page for information, instructions, and pricing of water testing. 

The Conservation District hosts a Tire Recycling Event once a year in the Spring. Details will be posted on the County's home page. You may also contact the District for more information.


The Adams County Conservation District's mission is to promote voluntary conservation and good stewardship of Adams County's natural resources. The District's vision is to be recognized, respected and trusted as the conservation leader of Adams County, enabling the people to sustain, use, and conserve our natural resources through the 21st century, thus maintaining a balance and harmony between a profitable agricultural economy and other land uses to enhance the County’s quality of life. 

Conservation districts were created in response to the dust bowl of the 1930s and are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs.  Districts work with landowners and local governments to help them manage and protect soil and water resources by implementing a variety of programs, and providing assistance for a range of issues unique to their county.
The Adams County Conservation District is located at the:

Agricultural and Natural Resources Center
670 Old Harrisburg Rd
Suite 201
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM