Thursday, January 6, 2011

Running Out of Funding, Growing Greener Must be Renewed

The Renew Growing Greener Coalition released this statement in response to the smallest-ever round of Growing Greener grant awards--

“Pennsylvania faces the imminent end of Growing Greener – a popular initiative that has provided investments in farmland preservation, conservation of open space, restoring and protecting Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers, improving and expanding state and local parks, preserving historic resources, and developing new trails and greenways. Unless action is taken in the near future, funds available for Growing Greener will be all but gone within a year,” stated Heath.
Even with such a comprehensive record of success, the commonwealth faces a variety of pressing problems that threaten our communities, our rich natural and cultural heritage, and our quality of life:
-- Pennsylvania is losing three times as much forest, wildlife habitat, farmland and other open spaces to development as we are able to conserve;
-- The Commonwealth currently has 16,000 miles of streams that are unsafe for fishing or swimming;
-- Abandoned mines scar almost 190,000 acres in 44 counties and are the cause of over 5,000 miles of dead streams;
-- More than 2,000 family farms remain on a statewide waiting list requesting protection from encroaching development so that they may continue Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural legacy.
A Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report released in March 2010 reveals Growing Greener funding is all but depleted. Soon, as much as three-fourths of the Growing Greener I funds will be used for debt service on Growing Greener II bonds. Funding for Growing Greener programs are expected to drop from $200 million in 2007-2008 to as little as $15 million as soon as 2012.
On January 24, the Renew Growing Greener Coalition will be hosting a briefing on the need to Renew Growing Greener in the Capitol Rotunda starting at 5:00.
“It is imperative that we provide the information to our policy-makers necessary to elevate this issue to the highest priority. Funding for Growing Greener is not a luxury, it is essential for the future economic vitality of the state, and for the future of our rich natural heritage,” said Heath.
The Renew Growing Greener Coalition is a coalition of the state’s leading conservation, preservation, revitalization, recreation and environmental organizations and is working towards the renewal of funding for Growing Greener.
For more information on the Renew Growing Greener Coalition, contact its Harrisburg office at 717-230-8044 extension 23.

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