For Immediate Release: October 18, 2011
Renew Growing Greener Coalition Applauds Centre County for Resolution Calling for Renewal of State Funding to Protect Environment
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Renew Growing Greener Coalition today applauded Centre County for passing a resolution 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.
“Centre County joins an increasing number of organizations across Pennsylvania that have called upon the Governor and legislature to restore funding for Growing Greener,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Renew Growing Greener Coalition. “We are hopeful that our state legislators will listen to their local communities and restore funding for this award winning program so that future generations have access to clean drinking water, fresh air, locally produced food and green open spaces.”
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 33,700 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.
“Centre County cannot afford to let Growing Greener funds run dry,” said Jon Eich, chairman of the Centre County Board of Commissioners. “County residents have benefited from Growing Greener investments in our parks, our streams and waterways, and our farmland and open spaces. We need to continue these investments so we can preserve our heritage, our quality of life and our economy.”
Among other accomplishments, Growing Greener funds have helped Centre County to:
- Begin to clean up and restore Contrary Run, the most significant contributor of acid mine drainage to Sandy Run and Beech Creek in Centre County.
- Support the Centre County Stream Restoration Program.
- Rehabilitate community parks and trails in Snow Shoe Township, Port Matilda, Harris Township, Bellefonte Borough, Millheim Borough and Spring Township.
- Develop approximately 1.2 miles of the Bellefonte Central Rail Trail, which preserves the historic and cultural value of the Bellefonte Central Railroad, provides recreational and commuting alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians, and furnishes access into the interior of The Arboretum at Penn State.
- Preserve hundreds of acres of farmland.
To date, more than 230 organizations and groups have announced their support for renewing Growing Greener. In addition, 102 Pennsylvania municipalities including 24 counties, representing more than 6.5 million Pennsylvanians, have passed resolutions urging the Governor and Legislature to renew Growing Greener funding.
About the Renew Growing Greener Coalition The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing over 300 organizations and government entities. For more information on the Coalition, visit www.RenewGrowingGreener.org.