For Immediate Release: December 5, 2017
GROWING GREENER COALITION APPLAUDS CONSERVATION & RECREATION GRANTS, CAUTIONS THAT OVERALL FUNDING IS INSUFFICIENT
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in Pennsylvania, today applauded the state for awarding $44 million in grants to support conservation and recreation projects across the Commonwealth.
However, the Coalition cautioned that overall funding for conservation and recreation remains at all-time lows. Because of this, the Coalition calls on the Governor and Legislature to take action by passing a fully funded Growing Greener III program.
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition applauds the state for investing in critical conservation projects across the Commonwealth,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Coalition. “However, the Governor and Legislature must take action to ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to have access to clean water, green open spaces, parks and outdoor recreational opportunities, and nutritious, locally grown food.”
The grants were awarded through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2), which is largely supported with funds from the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund and Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund.
The Department received 442 applications requesting more than $87 million in project funding.
“The fact that the state must deny nearly 40 percent of grant requests received reveals how underfunded these programs are. The needs facing our Commonwealth are great, and they grow exponentially with each year we ignore them,” said Heath. “The Commonwealth must address these funding shortfalls.”
Funding for Growing Greener has decreased from an estimated average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to less than $60 million this year. This represents a nearly 75 percent reduction.
In the fall of 2016, the Growing Greener Coalition unveiled its blueprint for a statewide Growing Greener III program, detailing the need for more than $315 million in annual investments to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land, communities and other natural resources.
Earlier this year, Senators Tom Killion (R-Delaware), Richard Alloway (R-Adams) and Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks) introduced SB705 which serves as the framework for a Growing Greener III program. The legislation has 27 co-sponsors and has been reported to the Senate Environmental Recourses & Energy Committee.
Companion legislation is being introduced in the House by Representatives Hal English (R-Allegheny), Mike Carroll (D-Lackawanna), Alex Charlton (R-Delaware), Robert Freeman (D-Northampton) and Chris Quinn (R-Delaware) and currently has 110 co-sponsors.
The Growing Greener III plan proposed by the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition has been endorsed by more than 180 conservation, preservation and recreation organizations, as well as several businesses and local governments, representing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. For a copy of the plan and full list of supporters visit www.growinggreener3.com.
Established in 1999, the state’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways. The program has also protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland, restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land, and helped reduce flooding and water pollution through 400 watershed protection projects and more than 100 drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.