May 20, 2021
Re. Conservation Needs and Investments: A Good Fit for the American Rescue Plan
Dear Pennsylvania Senators, Representatives, and Governor Wolf:
I write on behalf of the 70 member organizations of WeConservePA (formerly the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association) and the more than one hundred thousand Pennsylvanians they count as members and supporters.
Pennsylvania’s waterways need help. Although spending parameters may not be fully understood, the American Rescue Plan can clearly play a major role in providing this assistance:
- Billions of dollars in water investments are needed on a multitude of fronts to restore 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania waterways unsafe for drinking, swimming, and fishing.
- Municipalities face huge costs regarding MS4; farmers badly need help with designing and implementing conservation practices like forested stream buffers to keep soil and nutrients on the land instead of running into the water.
- Untreated AMD, desolate abandoned mined lands, and uncapped oil and gas wells harm our water and drag down local economies.
- Lack of investment in addressing stormwater management and flood prevention leave many Pennsylvanians highly vulnerable to loss of property and life.
Funding these needs out of the American Rescue Plan is a great fit:
- These are capital investments, not expenditures that have to be repeated (and supported out of the state general fund) after the federal money is gone.
- Tens of millions of dollars in green infrastructure projects are shovel ready now.
- Many more can be ready in short order if the money is made available.
The American Rescue Plan presents a tremendous opportunity to begin addressing the Commonwealth’s enormous backlog of green infrastructure needs. In addition to the water-centric needs, American Rescue Plan dollars might also be appropriate for addressing:
- Our State Parks and Forests, which require nearly $1 billion in restoration and repair work.
- Local parks and community open spaces that are seeing a surge (often doubling) in public usage and resulting wear-and-tear in this new era of increased interest in outdoor recreation.
American Rescue Plan dollars applied to green infrastructure would support myriad small businesses and good-paying jobs with them. Projects involve surveyors, appraisers, legal services, engineers, planners, drafters, environmental remediators, hydrologists, geologists, agricultural consultants, nurseries, architects, landscape architects, landscapers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, painters, roofing contractors, fencing installers, paving contractors, material delivery, sign makers, archaeologists, and arborists. Supplies and equipment are needed from nurseries, lumber yards, quarries, building material suppliers, hardware stores, equipment manufacturers, and equipment rental businesses.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Andrew M. Loza
cc: member organizations