‘Largest cut in PA conservation funding’ proposed
“Zeroing out the Keystone Fund that has supported sound conservation priorities for almost two decades is not only shortsighted, it is unhealthy for Pennsylvanians and for the future of our state,” he wrote. “Our region’s local economies, unique beauty and environmental health rely upon assuring that state government wisely uses taxpayer funds to assure taxpayer priorities like healthy public parks, forestlands, thriving wildlife and clean water are protected.”
PALTA executive director Andy Loza is urging the public to contact elected officials to protect the fund in upcoming budget negotiations. Loza stressed that the fund is an economic generator that supports state and local parks and conservation investments that boost jobs and property values.
According to a newly published study from DCNR, in 2010, PA state parks hosted 37.9 million visitors who spent $859 million, bringing $201 million of spending by out-of-state residents to PA communities. Visitor spending resulted in $1.145 billion in sales, $397.8 million in salary income and 12,630 jobs.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) also criticized the cut, noting that over the past nine years, approximately $1.8 billion has been diverted or eliminated from environmental programs.
Funding dedicated to environmental programs has disproportionately been a target in budget dealings, PEC asserts. “The citizens of the Commonwealth have repeatedly affirmed their desire to see environmental program funding protected. It is time for the Governor and General Assembly to honor their commitment and responsibility—required by Pennsylvania’s Constitution—to fully protect our natural and built environment.”
PALTA has launched a website (ConservationAdvocate.org) to provide resources for taking action. It also developed the KeystoneFund.org website a few years ago, which includes a searchable list of projects. Visit www.riverreporter.com to see more photos of the local impact.