The following letter was mailed today to members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly urging protection of the Keystone Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund. Please contact your state senator, house member and Governor Wolf and urge protection of these important funding sources.

As discussions continue on the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year budget, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, representing 40 chapters across the commonwealth, strongly urges you to protect special fund sources for conservation, recreation, and preservation programs critical to the protection of our land, water, and heritage.

While we recognize current budget challenges, we also know that you cannot achieve goals of making Pennsylvania an attractive place to do business by cutting investments in what makes Pennsylvania an attractive place to live, work, and play.

We request your leadership in opposing proposals that reduce or eliminate dedicated funding to programs that protect our water, build our communities, and protect our families, specifically the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund and the farmland preservation program, and the benefits they provide for all Pennsylvanians.

Research has supported, time and time again, that investments like those made by the above funds actually generates revenue for the commonwealth by supporting jobs, attracting visitors, and reducing costs of such things like water treatment and storm water control. For example, a Trust for Public Land study on the Keystone Fund found that for every $1 invested in land and water conservation, $7 in natural goods and services is returned to the state of Pennsylvania. Consider also Penn State’s study that found for every $1 of taxpayer money invested in a state park more than $12.50 is returned to the state in taxes.

Studies also consistently find that Pennsylvania residents support investment in our parks, forests, and recreation. Again, a survey released by Penn State found that more than 97.4 percent of Pennsylvanians think that state funds dedicated to protecting rivers and streams; conserving open space, forests, natural areas, and wildlife habitats; providing parks and trails; and preserving farmland should continue to be used for these purposes.

In closing, we urge you to protect the Keystone Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, and the Farmland Preservation Fund for both today and for future generations. Thank you.

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Protect the Keystone Fund and the Environmental Stewardship Fund