The State House of Representatives is planning a raid on key funding that protects open space, community recreation, parks, forests, libraries, farmland, and cultural resources. The following letter was sent to the house members and leadership urging them to stop the raids of these funds. Please contact your house member and urge them to protect the Keystone Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener) and Farmland Preservation.
Our letter: On behalf of the 40 chapters of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, the 3,000 volunteers who gave more than 65,000 hours of service to our state park and forests in 2016, and our 35,000 subscribers, I urge you to protect Pennsylvania’s dedicated funds for conservation, including the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener), and farmland preservation.
Pennsylvanians enjoy their state and local parks and forests, which not only create communities in which we want to live and that attract business and visitors, these places protect human health, reduce operational costs for water treatment, and serve many other functions which I would be happy to discuss with you.
It is a fallacy to imply that the work to preserve our farms, create community open space, and address all needed repairs in our state and community parks is complete. In fact, there is still much work to be accomplished, with a maintenance list that continues to grow due to shrinking state investments in our state parks and forests.
Yet the benefits of these funds do not stop with conservation and recreation. They also support historic preservation and libraries. Libraries often serve as the hub of a community, providing not just places to read, but educational workshops, literacy development, and community engagement. To review projects in your legislative district, visit: http://keystonefund.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2014/06/BRCKeystoneProjects_bycounty94-2013.pdf
As a leader committed to the people of the commonwealth, we urge you to oppose any actions to reduce or eliminate these dedicated funds. All Pennsylvanians benefit from these funds—through clean water and air, through vibrant communities that are attractive places to live and work, through access to literacy and heritage, and by engaging people in the outdoors which improves human health.
Polls show strong, consistent public support for public investments in open space and recreation. A recent Penn State poll found that 97.4% 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.
More than three-quarters of Pennsylvania citizens believe that parks, trails, and open spaces are an essential part of our healthcare system. Additionally, in the same survey, a majority of respondents believe that the state should INCREASE permanent source of funding for park and recreational opportunities. (The full results of the study can be found at: http://www.paoutdoorrecplan.com/)
We URGE you to protect the Keystone Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, and the Farmland Preservation Fund for all Pennsylvanians. These important funds are not idle; they are actively investing in our communities and our people.
Thank you for standing up for the future of Pennsylvania by protecting these important funds.
Yours in the Outdoors,