For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011
Renew Growing Greener Coalition Applauds York County for Resolution Calling for Renewal of State Funding to Protect Environment
York County Joins 60 Municipalities and Counties Urging Support for Growing Greener
(YORK, PA) Renew Growing Greener Coalition Executive Director Andrew Heath today applauded the York County Commissioners for adopting a resolution calling for the renewal of Growing Greener, the state’s primary source of funding to help local communities preserve open space and farmland, protect water quality, provide parks and recreation, and clean up abandoned mines.
“Funding for Growing Greener will run out unless the state Legislature and Governor Corbett take action to renew it,” said Heath. “We applaud the York County Commissioners for recognizing the need to renew Growing Greener funding in order to ensure families have access to clean drinking water, fresh air and green open spaces including the many parks and trails within York 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 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, and restoring over 16,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.
“I am encouraged that, even through these difficult economic times, County Commissioners and Pennsylvanians from across the Commonwealth understand the incredible importance of renewing the funding for Growing Greener,” Heath said. “Who knows better than these Commissioners of the financial difficulties facing their counties? Without Growing Greener, many of their community investment projects will not be funded, causing these communities to be robbed of the economic, environmental and quality of life benefits Growing Greener funding provides.”
The York County Commissioners believe in strong fiscal responsibility. According to the adopted resolution, the Growing Greener program should be renewed without the Commonwealth incurring new debt, such as a bond. It is imperative that the Commonwealth utilize a long term, sustainable funding mechanism that will not further burden the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
In 2002, a dedicated source of revenue for Growing Greener was identified in an increase in the state’s “tipping fee,” the fee charged for dumping trash in Pennsylvania’s landfills. Those funds were supplemented by a $625 million bond approved by voters in 2005, called Growing Greener II. Unless action is taken, those funds will be largely exhausted as of June 30th, with most of the Growing Greener I tipping fees going to the debt service on the Growing Greener II bonds.
A snapshot of York County Growing Greener investments include:
- $200,000 to York County for Rocky Ridge Park enhancements
- $100,000 to York County Rail & Trail Authority for its Northern Extension
- Over $1.3 million for 12 Watershed Protection projects
- Over $7.8 million for more than 4,500 acres of Farmland Preservation
“The hard work that community groups, local governments and state agencies have done to improve conditions throughout Southcentral Pennsylvania could not have been completed without Growing Greener,” Todd McNew, Pennsylvania State Director of The Conservation Fund, and Southcentral regional coordinator for the Renew Growing Greener Coalition, said. “We have preserved open spaces to create welcoming places for communities to grow, while working to improve watersheds to reduce our impact on the Chesapeake Bay. This is vital work is far from complete and is essential to the region’s economic recovery.”
York joins 60 other Pennsylvania municipalities and counties in passing a resolution urging the Governor and legislature to renew Growing Greener funding. Counties passing resolutions include: Blair, Cambria, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Philadelphia, Pike, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Washington, Westmoreland and Wyoming.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of conservation, recreation and environmental organizations representing over 250 organizations and government entities. For more information on the Coalition, visit www.RenewGrowingGreener.org.