Good news we need: PA adds $696 million in funding for parks, clean water, outdoor recreation & more
New state budget adds investment into essential environmental initiatives
The new Pennsylvania state budget passed by lawmakers last week includes wins for environmental efforts.
The annual budget includes $884.75 million that will have impacts on clean water, green spaces, parks, energy efficiency,
The new budget includes $696 million for a State Parks & Outdoor Recreation program for conservation, outdoor recreation, clean water, and preservation. This will include updates to state park and forest infrastructure (dams, water and sewer plants, roads), improve amenities (campsites for RVs, bathrooms, visitor centers), and provide grants to partners for recreation like trails, local parks, and river access.
A new Clean Streams Fund, with $220 million, will include funding to boost a streamside forest buffer program and clean up waterways. Addtionally, $320 million will go to complementary work via Commonwealth Financing Authority for water, sewer, flood, and high hazard dam projects.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced $56 million the development of three new state parks and and to expand scientific capability around carbon capture and storage. The locations of the new parks have not been announced, although Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of DCNR, hinted that one could be In the Philadelphia region. There are currently 121 Pennsylvania state parks.
State agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Department of Agriculture (PDA) saw an increase of $63.75 million for additional staff and programming.
$125 million is dedicated to the Whole Home Repairs Act, which creates a one-stop shop for home repairs and weatherization, which helps workforce devleopment tas well.
Shortly before the budget was passed, Pennsylvania also signed a Fertilizer Responsible Use bill into law. Senate Bill 251, now Act 83 of 2022, created clear standards for fertilizer application to turf, and and modernizes the state’s existing program for proper testing and labeling of fertilizer products. Bagged fertilizer will not be able to contain phosphorus.
“The nutrients in fertilizer promote plant growth on land, but when excess nitrogen or phosphorus enters surface water such as a stream or lake, it promotes the growth of harmful algae that suffocates aquatic life and increases the treatment cost of drinking water,” said State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).
Photo by Tommy Kwak on Unsplash