The PA Growing Greener Coalition Thursday called on Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature to provide more funding to protect Pennsylvania’s water, land and other natural resources, not less.
“As Gov. Wolf prepares to present his budget next week, we want to remind him and the Legislature that Pennsylvania needs more funding to protect our water, land and other natural resources, not less,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Coalition. “While we recognize the current fiscal challenges facing the state, this budget must not and cannot be balanced at the expense of the environment.”
“Cuts to state programs like Growing Greener, Keystone and Farmland Preservation are unacceptable,” Heath continued. “Further, any new revenue proposals must include funding for Growing Greener to ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to have access to clean water, green open spaces, parks and outdoor recreational opportunities, and nutritious, locally grown food.”
Funding for Growing Greener has decreased from an estimated average of $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million this year. This represents a 75 percent cut and an all-time low for the program.
Established in 1999, the state’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 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.
Since its inception, the state’s Growing Greener program has enjoyed widespread, bipartisan public 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.
For more information on funding needs and proposals, visit the PA Growing Greener Coalition website. The Coalition is the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in Pennsylvania.
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