This morning, PPFF and the other members of the Growing Greener Coalition asked the members of the Pennsylvania legislature and the Governor to reconsider any effort to reduce the Keystone Fund and Environmental Stewardship Fund.
Open Letter to Governor Wolf and
Members of the General Assembly
June 11, 2019
It’s been suggested that money can be taken from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Keystone) and the Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF) because no harm will be done to project investments. Furthermore, it has been implied that because the funds have increased in the past few years, tapping into them at this point in time will not cause ill-effect. Neither of these are accurate, and we write to you today to urge you to PROTECT these funding sources to be used for their intended purposes.
- Annually, more funds are requested from the Keystone Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund than can be awarded for projects (about 50% go unfunded). Additionally, many projects that are funded are not funded in-full, due to the demands on the program.
- Money currently held in accounts for Keystone Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund are monies that are committed to projects. When a grant contract is signed, the grantee assumes that the contracts will be honored.
- The proposed solution to transfers, funding of grants on a “contingency basis” or allocated to park/forest projects on a “cash basis,” creates uncertainty for planning and executing projects, and could increase project costs.
- The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund, established by bipartisan consensus in the 1990s, redirects local taxes back to municipalities to support projects which reinvest in communities, heal environmental damage of the past, and preserve our environment for generations to come.
In January, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) released a report, The Legacy of Pennsylvania’s State Parks and Forests: The Future Is In Our Hands (available on our website), that outlines the billion dollar need for infrastructure investments in our state parks and forests. Years of underfunding and sporadic investments, created a situation in which our built (bridges, dams, treatment, facilities, recreational facilities) and natural environment faces an unprecedented need. Removing critical funding for projects in our state parks and forests, as well as critical investments in community recreation, increases the demand for future spending as these projects become more costly to address.
Our community and state parks and forests need MORE investment, not less. Protect the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Keystone) and the Environmental Stewardship and continue to invest in the future of the commonwealth’s rich outdoor recreation heritage, a booming business to the state’s economy.
Marci Mowery, President