For Immediate Release: December 15, 2016
GROWING GREENER COALITION APPLAUDS CONSERVATION & RECREATION GRANTS, CAUTIONS THAT FUNDING IS AT ALL-TIME LOW
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in Pennsylvania, today applauded the state for awarding $45 million in grants to support conservation and recreation projects across the Commonwealth.
However, the Coalition cautioned that funding for these critical projects is at an all-time low and called on the Governor and Legislature to take action.
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition applauds the state for investing in grants that will be used to support 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 Community Conservation Partnerships Program, which is largely supported with funds from the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund.
Funding for Growing Greener has decreased from an estimated average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million this year. This represents a 75 percent cut.
The Coalition recently 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.
“The Growing Greener I and II programs have a long history of success,” Heath said. “But there is still work to do. With Growing Greener funding at an all-time low, the state needs to be investing more, not less.”
Coalition members are calling on the Legislature and Governor to allocate funding for the establishment of a Growing Greener III program in the upcoming FY17 budget deliberations.
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.
Since its inception, the state’s Growing Greener program has enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support. A 2015 Penn State poll found that 90.7 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed would support increasing state funds to conserve and protect open space, clean water, natural areas, wildlife habitats, parks, historic sites, forests, and farms.
The Growing Greener III plan proposed by the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition has been endorsed by more than 170 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.