Conversation

GOP Threatening Environmental Programs

Call to Action. Letter from Greg Goldman and News Article
Dear Audubon Colleagues in PA:
I am writing today to ask you to activate your chapter members and others in your network.  Members of the PA House of Representatives need to hear immediately from Audubon members all across the state that we are against a proposal to close the budget gap by taking funds from The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and the Growing Greener Environmental Stewardship Fund.  These are vital resources dedicated to the protection and enhancement of our natural and built environments.  They are crucial investments for birds and their habitats, and they leverage local investments while creating and sustaining Pennsylvania jobs.   Audubon PA strongly opposes repurposing these funds and asks that our members contact your state representatives to voice your opposition.
 
You and your members can simply enter your home address using  the following link to find out who their State Representative is and how to contact him or her:
 
Find Your Legislator
 
Scroll down for the press release issued by DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn that provides specific detail on the negative impact of this proposal.
Should you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. 
Thank you for taking immediate action on this important issue!
 
GG
Greg Goldman
Vice President, National Audubon Society,Executive Director, Audubon PA
1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon PA  19403
610-666-5593 Office, 215-990-5998 Cell

 
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources:
DCNR alerts lawmakers that raiding funds threatens state and local park contracts, related jobs.
Text of Sept. 8 press release:
Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Adams Dunn today alerted oversight chairs in the House and Senate that a recently unveiled House Republican plan to cut park and conservation funding from dedicated sources is based on misleading information and would threaten jobs in the private industry that are related to these projects.

“Claims that cuts to dedicated funds would not impact programs or jobs are inaccurate. Removing money from these special dedicated funds would mean postponing and cancelling projects to help Pennsylvania communities and public lands, without the use of general operating dollars,” Dunn wrote.
Dunn noted that had they asked, these House Republicans would have learned that the $145 million they identify as available is already contractually committed to hundreds of projects in communities across Pennsylvania, and to address more than $800 million in projects on public lands.
 
“The money that is in the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship funds needs to remain because DCNR has committed it through contracts to projects and communities, and needs to be fiscally responsible and make good on those promises,” Dunn wrote. “New money coming in will support our grant and infrastructure projects next year, or these popular programs will be eliminated. There is nothing reserved that has not been committed to a grantee or contractor.”
 
With the loss of the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship funds, DCNR would not be able to contract with private industry for our infrastructure projects in state parks and forests. The engineering and construction industry in Pennsylvania would certainly feel the loss from not having the infusion of millions of dollars into the economy for these construction projects.
 
“Over the past five years, DCNR has invested more than $90 million in Keystone funding, much of it through private sector jobs, to rehabilitate and repair state park and forest infrastructure based on priorities such as health, safety and natural resource/open space protection and conservation,” Dunn said in the letter.
 
DCNR grants also impact private sector jobs. Community grants build playgrounds, ball fields, trails, recreation centers, pools, boat launches and much more. The communities provide an equal match to grant funds, and then hire private contractors to complete the work. There are nearly 650 active grant contracts currently impacting hundreds of communities across Pennsylvania.
 
Examples of projects on state park and forest lands that will be impacted by a transfer include:
• Loyalsock State Forest, northcentral Pa. -- Cancel road and bridge repairs caused by last year’s devastating flooding, causing a negative impact on timber harvesting operations, hunting, general access and local traffic. 
• Delaware Canal Repairs, southeast Pa. -- Cancel repairs to the Tinicum Aqueduct, Kliens Run Aqueduct, pumping stations at Marshall Island and Bowman Hill, Bridge to Odette’s in New Hope. This would effectively dewater miles of the canal causing quality of life and economic tourism loses. 
• Moraine State Park, Butler County -- Cancel the rehabilitation of the potable water system for the park, creating the potential of shutting down one of the most popular parks in western Pa. 
• Cherry Springs/Leonard Harrison Complex, Potter County -- Cancel public safety and visitor access and services redesign to two of the highest visited parks in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Due to exponential increase in visitation these two parks need major redesign work to provide for health and public safety upgrades. 
• Hickory Run, Carbon County - Cancel the replacement of the CCC era pit toilets in the campground, youth camping area and the group camping area. Environmental and human health issues are a strong potential.
A copy of the full letter can be found here. Find list of active grant projects here and here.
Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-579-5177 or cnovak@pa.gov.