For Immediate Release: June 17, 2013
Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition Opposes Reported
Suggestion of Diverting Keystone Funds
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth, today issued the following statement from Executive Director Andrew Heath in response to a June 16, 2013, Associated Press article in which Budget Secretary Charles Zogby suggested diverting dedicated funding for open space and parks projects under the Keystone Fund to balance the budget:
“While we do not know the full context of Budget Secretary Zogby’s conversation with the reporter from the Associated Press, the Coalition is concerned that the Keystone Fund may once again be targeted for diversion of funds to plug budget holes.
“Cutting the Keystone Program, that has a 20-year proven track record of success, would be counterproductive to what our state leaders have been trying to achieve by focusing on programs that provide economic growth.
“The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition opposes any raid on conservation, recreation and preservation funds and urges the Administration and legislators to keep funding for Keystone and other similar programs intact.”
For more than two decades, the Keystone Fund has been helping communities protect open space, develop community parks and recreation areas, support libraries, preserve historic sites, and protect and improve state game, forest, and park lands.
Investments in programs such as Keystone generate billions of dollars in economic benefits. A recent study conducted by The Trust of Public Land found that every $1 invested by the Keystone Fund in land and water conservation returns $7 in economic value of natural goods and services.
Moreover, in addition to creating jobs and generating revenue, these programs increase the value of nearby properties, boost spending at local businesses, make communities more attractive places to live, influence business location and relocation decisions, reduce medical costs by encouraging exercise and other healthy outdoor activities, provide low or no-cost recreation to families, stabilize local taxes in the communities in which they are located and help revitalize depressed areas.
About Keystone: The Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund is a critical dedicated funding source for recreation and conservation projects, libraries, historic preservation initiatives and higher education. Established in 1993 with an overwhelmingly approved voter referendum, a 48-0 vote in the Pennsylvania Senate and a 196-3 vote in the House, the Keystone Fund automatically receives 15 percent of the state’s realty transfer tax. Since its establishment, the fund has helped conserve more than 130,000 acres of green space, supported more than 1,900 park projects, and funded 570 historic preservation projects and more than 200 library projects.
About the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition The mission of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition is to enhance the health and economic well-being of communities across the Commonwealth by advocating for funding to conserve, protect and restore land, water and wildlife, to preserve farms and historic places, and to provide well-managed parks and recreational areas throughout the state.
For more information on the Coalition, visit www.PaGrowingGreener.org.