Armstrong, Butler and Huntington Counties Support Growing Greener

For Immediate Release:  November 4, 2011

Renew Growing Greener Coalition Applauds Armstrong, Butler, Huntington Counties for Resolutions Calling for Renewal of State Funding to Protect Environment 

(HARRISBURG, PA) The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today applauded Armstrong, Butler and Huntington counties for passing resolutions calling for the renewal of Growing Greener, the state’s primary source of funding to help local communities protect water quality, preserve open space and farmland, and enhance parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.

“County commissioners across the Commonwealth continue to recognize the value of Growing Greener in their local communities and understand that funding this program is critical to the health of their waterways, open space, farmland, parks and trails,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Renew Growing Greener Coalition. “As the legislature debates how to allocate revenues associated with natural gas drilling, it is imperative that any proposal includes significant funding for Growing Greener.”

In addition to the increasing number of counties supporting Growing Greener, the following organizations this week also voted in favor of Growing Greener:

  • Arrowhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Armstrong County
  • Country Squirrel Outfitters, Ridgway, Elk County
  • Trappe Borough, Montgomery County

Growing Greener is a bipartisan program established in 1999 under Governor Tom Ridge and later expanded by Governors Schweiker and Rendell.  Since its establishment, Growing Greener has created a legacy of success, preserving more than 103,000 acres of Pennsylvania’s family farmland, conserving more than 42,300 acres of threatened open space, adding 26,000 acres to state parks and forests, capping more than 2,100 abandoned wells, and restoring over 16,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.

Moreover, Growing Greener has contributed and leveraged billions of dollars to the Pennsylvania economy by helping to boost tourism, create jobs and generate revenue.

Yet despite the program’s accomplishments, funding for Growing Greener projects and grants fell from an average of approximately $150 million per year for the last six years to $27.3 million in the current state budget.  This is more than an 80 percent reduction.

To date, nearly 250 organizations and groups have announced their support for renewing Growing Greener.  In addition, 132 government entities, including 29 counties, representing nearly 7 million Pennsylvanians, have passed resolutions urging the Governor and legislature to renew Growing Greener funding.

Examples of Growing Greener accomplishments in Armstrong, Butler and Huntington counties include:

Armstrong County

  • Plugged 17 abandoned wells and reclaimed 36 acres of abandoned mine lands.
  • Preserved 100 acres of farmland.
  • Helped repair and protect the Cowanshannock Creek and conduct watershed assessments for 15 watersheds within Armstrong County, comprising 188 square miles.

Butler County

  • Plugged 32 abandoned wells and helped address acid mine discharge within the boundary  of Ohiopyle State Park.
  • Preserved more than 1,100 acres of farmland.
  • Invested $1.4 million in improvements to Moraine State Park and $636,000 for the development of Almeda Park.

“The Growing Greener program has helped Butler County to the tune of $18 million in grants that have been used for such worthwhile projects as acid mine drainage, agricultural land preservation, nutrient management, park improvements and mini grants,” said Dale Pinkerton, chairman of the Butler County Board of Commissioners. “We are hopeful that our legislators see fit to reestablish funding for this important program.”

Huntington County

  • Preserved 344 acres of farmland.
  • Supported efforts to clean up and restore Muddy Run, one of the most severely polluted streams within the Clearfield Creek drainage.
  • Helped the Juniata Valley School District reconstruct and restore wetlands on school property, turning them into an outdoor learning center for teaching environmental studies.

About the Renew Growing Greener Coalition The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing more than 380 organizations and government entities.  For more information on the Coalition, visit www.RenewGrowingGreener.org.

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