Urges Senate to Increase and Protect Funding for Heritage Areas Program
(HARRISBURG, PA) The Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the Commonwealth, today praised the House for passing its version of the 2013-2014 state budget which restores funding for critical conservation programs.
Specifically, the House budget includes $3.8 million in restored funding for conservation districts and $2 million for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Heritage Areas Program. The budget also includes increased support for the Department of Environmental Protection.
“The Growing Greener Coalition praises House members for passing a budget that supports conservation and stewardship of critical open space, farmland, water resources and historic sites throughout Pennsylvania,” said Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition. “We are especially grateful to House Leadership, with special recognition to Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph for his role in drafting this legislation. The Leadership’s support for Conservation Districts and the Heritage Areas Program is greatly appreciated.”
Heritage Areas create jobs and bring small businesses to the region, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars of added value in personal income, profits, community revitalization and government taxes. For every $1 of state funding received, Pennsylvania’s Heritage Areas leveraged an average of $5 of federal, local and private investment.
“Pennsylvania has some of the most significant historic, cultural and recreational sites in the country, making it a must-see destination for travelers from all over the world,” said Jane Sheffield, executive director of the Allegheny Ridge Heritage Area. “Although restoring funding for these programs is significant, it falls short of the need currently facing the Commonwealth and we are calling on Senate leaders to increase support for the Heritage Areas Program to $3 million, the bare minimum needed to operate.”
According to a recent survey from the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg, 92 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed think that state funds dedicated to preserving farmland and open space, providing parks and trails and protecting rivers and streams should continue to be used for these purposes.
“Pennsylvanians understand that conserving and protecting open space, farmland and waterways is key to improving not only the overall quality of life but also economic vitality throughout the Commonwealth,” said Robert Maiden, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts. “With this vote, House leaders demonstrated that they too understand the need for critical conservation and preservation efforts across the state.”
In addition, the survey found that nearly 78 percent of respondents support increasing state funds to conserve and protect open space, clean water, natural areas, wildlife habitats, parks, historic sites, forests and farms even if that would cost the average household $10 more annually. These high levels of support are consistent across every geographic region, gender, ethnic, educational and economic demographic throughout the state.
About the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition
The mission of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition 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, to preserve farms and historic places, and to provide well-managed parks and recreational areas throughout the state.
For more information on the Coalition, visit www.PaGrowingGreener.org.