Celebrating conservation

By SANDY LONG
Posted 12/23/19

It’s exciting to note that as we enter 2020, we celebrate 20 years since Pennsylvania’s Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF)—also known as Growing Greener—was established to …

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Celebrating conservation

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It’s exciting to note that as we enter 2020, we celebrate 20 years since Pennsylvania’s Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF)—also known as Growing Greener—was established to protect the Keystone State’s clean water, preserve open space and farmland, reduce flooding, restore damaged land and enhance outdoor recreation by improving parks and trails.

The program began in 1999 when Gov. Tom Ridge and legislative leaders enacted Act 68 of 1999 with overwhelming bipartisan support—the bill passed nearly unanimously in the Senate (a 49–1 vote) and unanimously in the House of Representatives. 

“Our constitution gives Pennsylvanians the right to clean air, to pure water and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment,” noted Ridge at the signing of the Growing Greener legislation on December 15, 1999. “We have a constitutional obligation to leave Penn’s Woods better than we found them—and today we act decisively to fulfill it.” 

Locally, the ESF has provided grants to fund a variety of projects in Pike and Wayne counties, such as conducting studies of groundwater quantity and quality for use as a baseline in fast-growing Pike County, and educational projects for municipal officials related to sound land-use planning and land preservation through conservation easements. The ESF has also funded watershed specialist positions in both counties. 

In addition, the ESF has helped to conserve more than 80,000 natural areas and 78,000 acres of productive farmland, while restoring 1,600 acres of abandoned mine lands, 270 acres of brownfields and planting 200 miles of riparian buffers and tens of thousands of trees through the TreeVitalize program. 

These are only a few examples of the beneficial impacts achieved over the past two decades. Learn more about the specific projects funded by the ESF at www.bit.ly/greenerprojects.

During this season of gratitude and celebration, take a few minutes to contact your state representatives to thank them for supporting this important initiative to protect PA’s natural resources and to urge them to continue doing so. Find their contact information at www.bit.ly/legiscontact

Wishing all of our devoted readers a healthy and happy new year!

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