Established in 1999, the Growing Greener program has a long history of success, but there is still much more work to be done. The Growing Greener Coalition, the largest coalition of conservation, recreation and preservation organizations in the state, has identified more than $315 million in annual needs to ensure Pennsylvanians continue to have access to clean water, locally grown food, and parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.
However, funding for the program is at an all-time low, down 75 percent since the mid-2000s. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and will be introduced in the House to rejuvenate and expand this valuable program. Bipartisan support is high with (at last count) 27 Senators and 60 Representatives signed on as co-sponsors.
The Co-Sponsorship Memorandum set outs a clear case for the program need and its expansion of the state agencies’ capacity to participate in the program. Some points to consider:
- The House version will be a companion piece of legislation introduced in the Senate by Senator Killion (SB705).
- The framework legislation does not increase investments, just provides an updated framework (distribution) for what the state agencies can use their Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF) Growing Greener dollars for.
- This legislation updates the 1999 allocation we are currently working under to better address the needs facing the Commonwealth now.
- This legislation expands the authorities (uses) of ESF Growing Greener funds for DEP, AG, DCNR and PennVest. It also brings in Fish & Boat Commission, Game Commission, Department of Community and Economic Development, and PA Historic and Museum Commission as recipients of ESF GG dollars.
- The legislation does not raise taxes or fees.
Increased investment in the Growing Greener III program will be pursued through future legislation. But, this represents a critical first step in that process.
TAKE ACTION: Is your Senator or Representative on the list? If so, please thank him or her. If NOT, please contact your elected officials and ask him or her to join as a sponsor.