Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund

growing-greener

History

  • Growing Greener I was established in 1999 when Gov. Ridge and the General Assembly committed nearly $650 million over five years to fund conservation and environmental protection projects – from the creation of greenways, trails and community parks to wildlife habitat preservation.
  • In 2002, Gov. Schweiker and General Assembly created a dedicated source of funding for Growing Greener through an increase in the tipping fee – the fee for dumping trash in landfills.  The revenue generated by the increase was placed into the Environmental Stewardship Fund for Growing Greener.
  • In 2005 voters approved Growing Greener II, a $625 million bond to supplement existing Growing Greener funds.  Growing Greener II was approved with 61 percent support statewide. Support was even higher in Southeastern Pennsylvania, with 76 percent voter approval.
  • Today, Growing Greener struggles for funding – with Growing Greener II bond funds depleted – and a majority of the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund tipping fees being diverted to pay the debt service on the Growing Greener II bond.
  • Over the years, Growing Greener has provided funds to communities and non-profit organizations to help restore and protect local watersheds, clean up abandoned mines, preserve and acquire farmlands and open spaces, and lessen non point source pollution from entering waterways.
  • Growing Greener also provides funds for maintaining our award-winning state park system, for heritage conservation and for the development of multipurpose trails, greenways and parks in our communities.

What’s at Stake?

  • Water quality. Without money to keep our streams, reservoirs and other waterways clean, pollution will become an increasing threat to our drinking water sources, aquatic species, and outdoor recreational opportunities.  The Commonwealth currently has 16,000 miles of streams that are unsafe for fishing and swimming.
  • Air quality.  Forests and other green spaces help keep the air we breathe clean. By protecting them, we protect ourselves and our families, especially against chronic diseases like asthma.  Pennsylvania is losing three times as much forest, wildlife habitat, farmland and other open spaces to overdevelopment than we are to conserve.
  • Food supply. Local farms provide access to healthy, nutritious foods and agriculture and agribusiness contribute $61 billion to Pennsylvania’s overall economy. We need to preserve them.  More than 2,000 family farms remain on a statewide waiting list.
  • Economy.  Preserved open space is more than just a pretty place. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits in Southeastern PA, alone by increasing property values, saving tax dollars associated with environmental services such as water filtration and flood control, avoiding health care costs, generating tourism dollars and supporting jobs.
  • Recreation.  Growing Greener ensures we all have outdoor places to enjoy – whether you are a sportsman who likes to fish, a parent who likes to take your child to the park or a senior who likes to walk on the outdoor trails.  Abandoned mines still scar almost 190,000 acres in 44 counties and are the cause of more than 5,000 miles of dead streams.
  • Flood control.  Protecting our watersheds protects us against flooding, the high cost of clean up, and negative impact to wildlife habitats.

Highlights of Growing Greener Accomplishments Statewide

  • Protected more than 33,700 acres of Pennsylvania’s family farmland.
  • Conserved more than 42,300 acres of threatened open space.
  • Protected and improved the health and stability of hundreds of miles of streams, streambanks, and wetlands.
  • Improved public recreation through 234 community park projects.
  • Restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine lands.
  • Plugged over 2,100 abandoned gas wells.