Will your call, letter or meeting be the one to make the difference for conservation? It very well could, but you must act now.
Pennsylvania has made tangible and lasting investments in conservation, thanks to the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and farmland preservation program, both established in 1993, as well as Growing Greener, established in 1999. With these programs, Pennsylvania has been establishing and improving parks and trails, protecting wildlife habitats, preserving productive farms and saving other important green spaces (such as historic battlefields and neighborhood gardens) that define PA communities and that will shape the lives of Pennsylvanians for decades and centuries to come.
These conservation investments could end with a new state budget. One path for balancing the 2014-15 budget would cut the Keystone Fund, farmland preservation and Growing Greener. Legislators are looking everywhere for “easy” cuts, so if we don’t make it clear to them that cutting conservation is unacceptable, we will lose these crucial conservation programs. (We aren’t talking about just one year; the reality in Harrisburg is that a program that is cut for one year is likely cut forever.)
What can you do? Make personal contacts.
Call or write your legislators. NOW. Tell them to protect the Keystone Fund so that it can continue to deliver lasting legacies for conservation and recreation–so that it can create tangible benefits that last for decades, even centuries. Tell them to protect farmland preservation and Growing Greener.
Get the word out to your members, colleagues and friends. Lawmakers need to hear from a broad group of people. They need to understand that it’s about far more than helping a few outdoor enthusiasts or farmers. It’s about the health of our communities and the people in them. It’s about preventing flooding and saving wildlife. It’s about protecting the environment, the agricultural industry, local jobs and real estate values. (See the conservation benefits guides at ConservationTools.org.)
When can you do it?
Budget discussions are intensifying in Harrisburg. Catch legislators in Harrisburg on 6/16 thru 6/19 and in their district offices on 6/20. Don’t wait.
Correction: An email of 6/11/2014 issued by PALTA with subject “Urgent Action Needed – Sign-on Letter” stated that the Governor had suggested the conservation cuts to the House and Senate Republican Caucuses; this statement was based on reports from legislative offices. Upon further investigation, PALTA learned that this characterization is incorrect. What had happened is that the Administration laid out a number of scenarios on how one might achieve a balanced budget given current revenues and no new revenue; this did not involve any endorsement or suggestion that any such scenario should be enacted. PALTA strives for accuracy and fairness in its communications and regrets the misleading characterization.