Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rails-To-Trails Conservancy Urges Opposition To HB 2004 Putting Funding For Trails In Jeopardy Just When People Need Them Most

The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy is urging the public to contact their House members to oppose House Bill 2004 (Ortitay-R-Allegheny)  that would put funding  for trails in jeopardy, just when the public is using them most. The text of the message follows--
Just as more people are seeking trails and the outdoors for physical activity and solace during these times of isolation, legislators in Harrisburg are targeting vital funding for trails, parks and land conservation.
Help protect trail and outdoor recreation funding. Contact your state representative and ask them to oppose any cuts or transfers to the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, including House Bill (H.B.) 2004.
The Keystone Fund was established in 1993 with broad legislative support and voter approval. The annually recurring Keystone fund has supported millions of dollars for trails, parks, and land conservation over the years.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more people across the state are using trails to stay healthy and get outdoors. 
In fact, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s 20 electronic trail counters in Pennsylvania-- which represent only a fraction of the state’s almost 200 rail-trails-- saw an increase of more than 56,000 people in March compared to the same month last year. 
This number represents use by mostly local users, due to fewer tourists. 
Additionally, since our counters are primarily on rural trails, we would expect to see an even bigger increase on more densely-populated urban and suburban trails.
Now is not the time to cut or transfer funding for trails—just when people need them most.
Tell your legislator to protect Keystone funding for trails, parks and land conservation.
This legislation may come up in the state House of Representatives early this week. So we need your help now to protect one of the state's most critical sources of funding for trails-- including the developing 1,500-mile Industrial Heartland Trails network and cross-country Great American Rail-Trail in Western Pennsylvania, and the 800-mile Circuit Trails network in the Philadelphia region.
Don’t let legislators use a public health emergency to put funds for trails, parks and outdoor recreation at risk precisely at the time when Pennsylvanians are turning to those spaces for physical exercise, mental health and transportation more than ever.
Write your legislator today and help protect trail and outdoor recreation funding.
For more information on rails-to-trails, visit the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy Pennsylvania webpage.  Questions should be directed to Tom Sexton by sending email to:
2nd Move Against Environmental Funding
On April 21, House Republicans passed House Bill 1822 (M.Keller-R-Perry) by a party line vote to freeze funding for county conservation districts and from a series of environmental and other funds to support local parks, trails, farm conservation, environmental restoration and other projects.
The bill is now in the Senate for action.  Read more here.
Editor’s Note: $172 Million Just Sitting There: The Senate and House are still sitting on a $172 million surplus in their own operating accounts, but they don’t seem ready to repurpose the money to help taxpayers and real people during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more here.
Sacrifice is good… for other people in their view, apparently.
Click Here to read more about "legislative privilege" and hiding how the General Assembly spends taxpayer money.
3 Front War On The Environment
House Bill 2004 is part of a sustained attack on the environment by Conservative Republicans who have been fighting a three front war on environmental programs and funding for the last decade--
-- Starving environmental agencies for funding so they have to cut staff and programs and then turn around and say they can’t do their job [they’ve successfully done that];
-- Adding even more layers of bureaucracy and procedures to block environmental regulations, reduce environmental standards and give regulated entities more control over these programs; and
-- Using every chance they get to cut funding to support community-based projects to protect and restore the environment, improve recreation opportunities and land conservation efforts that real people-- voters-- overwhelmingly support [they’ve successfully done that].
So far the strategy is working.
These are the latest attempts, but they won’t be the last.
Related Articles - House Bill 2004:
Related Article - House Bill 1822:
Related Articles:
[Posted: May 20, 2020] PA Environment Digest

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