Andrew Health, Executive director of the PA Growing Greener Coalition, last week send a letter to legislators outlining the Coalition’s priorities in the coming state budget talks. The text of the letter follows—
The mission of the Growing Greener Coalition – the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the state – 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;
— Preserve farms and historic places, and
— Provide well-managed parks, trails, and recreational areas throughout Pennsylvania
As we look ahead to the upcoming months, we are counting on your support to keep Pennsylvania Growing Greener. To that end, we strongly urge you to:
— Protect the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund and allocate a portion of any tipping fee increase directly to the Fund, while maintaining contributions from the Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund and the Oil and Gas Lease Fund.
— Save Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas Program by restoring $3 million in funding.
— Ensure that funding for the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund remains at current levels.
— Protect current funding for agricultural preservation.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the Coalition urges you to pass legislation to fund a Growing Greener III program to address our water quality needs, protect our parks, trails, and open spaces, and preserve our family farms.
Funding for the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund has decreased from an average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to approximately $60 million in 2015.
Inadequate funding directly threatens the health of Pennsylvania’s water, air, land and wildlife, and consequently, our communities. With hundreds of acres of open space lost to development each day in Pennsylvania, we need to be doing more to protect our natural resources, not less.
The Coalition looks forward to working with you over these next several weeks and months to keep Pennsylvania Growing Greener so children and families continue to have access to clean drinking water, green open spaces, healthy and locally grown food, and communities where people want to live, work, and play – today and tomorrow.
The letter was sent on behalf of the Coalition’s major partner organizations: Audubon of Pennsylvania; Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds; HeritagePA; Lancaster Farmland Trust; Natural Lands Trust; Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Pennsylvania Land Trust Association; Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation; Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society; Philadelphia Department of Recreation; Preservation Pennsylvania; The Conservation Fund; The Nature Conservancy-PA; Trust for Public Land; and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.The PA Growing Greener Coalition has urged the General Assembly and the Wolf Administration to pass legislation to fund a Growing Greener III program to address the pressing needs of the Commonwealth, including the need to keep drinking water clean, protect parks and open spaces, and preserve family farms.