For Immediate Release: Sept. 28, 2016
SEN. KILLION, PA GROWING GREENER COALITION ANNOUNCE INTRODUCTION OF LEGISLATION TO PROTECT WATER, LAND & OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES
(HARRISBURG, PA) Sen. Tom Killion (R-Delaware) and the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition today announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to create a Growing Greener III program and provide $315 million in annual investments to protect the state’s water, land and other natural resources.
“Our goal is to establish a Growing Greener III framework that the Governor and Legislature can embrace to renew this critical program and ensure its continued vitality long into the future,” said Killion. “This legislation represents the first step in the process – identifying the need and establishing the commitment to support these critical environmental and quality of life projects.”
Killion is joined by co-sponsors Sens. Richard Alloway (R-Adams), David Argall (R-Schuylkill), John Blake (D-Lackawanna), Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh), Thomas McGarrigle (R-Delaware), Chuck McIhinney (R-Bucks), John Gordner (R-Columbia), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) and John Yudichak (D-Carbon).
“We are grateful to Senator Killion and the bipartisan group of co-sponsors for championing a bipartisan Growing Greener III program and for recognizing the critical need to invest in keeping our water clean, protecting our open space and preserving our family farms,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition. “Investments in Growing Greener support our local economies and ensure that future generations continue to have access to clean water, green open space, locally grown food, and public parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.”
The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition last week unveiled its blueprint for a Growing Greener III program. A copy of the plan, which was developed with input from a wide range of stakeholders can be downloaded at www.growinggreener3.com.
“More than 26,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s waterways are currently classified as impaired,” said John Dawes, executive director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. “We need to invest in a Growing Greener III program to help repair and restore our rivers, lakes and streams, which not only supply our drinking water, but are also popular sources of recreation and tourism for Pennsylvania residents and visitors alike.”
Established in 1999, the state’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 50,000 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.
“Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program has helped local communities all across the Commonwealth to protect important open spaces,” said Oliver Bass, vice president for Natural Lands Trust. “However, there is still work that needs to be done. Preserving land is proven to makes communities healthier, provides significant economic benefits, and is one of the most effective ways to keep water clean.”
Pennsylvania’s Constitution mandates that the Commonwealth conserve and maintain its natural resources. As article 1, section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution reads: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all of the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
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.
“Pennsylvanians value their parks and open spaces,” said Marci Mowery, president of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation. “Our public forest lands not only provide recreational opportunities like fishing, hunting, bird watching, and camping, but also provide forestry products, clean air, and clean water.”
Numerous studies have shown that Pennsylvania’s parks, farms, waterways, and open space generate significant economic and health benefits locally and statewide, and are critical to the strength of two of Pennsylvania’s leading industries – tourism and agriculture.
“Growing Greener funding is critical to preserving our family farms and ensuring access to locally grown, nutritious food,” said Jeff Swinehart, deputy director of Lancaster Farmland Trust. “Our farms contribute $75 billion in total economic impact annually and one in seven jobs is related to agriculture. We must invest in their preservation.”
The Growing Greener III plan proposed last week by the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition has so far been endorsed by more than 100 conservation, preservation and recreation organizations, as well as several businesses and local governments, representing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. For a full list visit www.growinggreener3.org.