by Thyra Sperry, President, KTA Board of Directors
We are outraged that the Pennsylvania state government is threatening to permanently eliminate the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, a major funding source for our state’s parks, trails and open spaces. This measure is the largest proposed cut to conservation funding in Pennsylvania’s history and will have a lasting and devastating impact on our open spaces.
In 1993, the Keystone Fund was established to create a dedicated and permanent funding source for investments in recreation, parks and conservation and earned overwhelming bipartisan and general public support: the Senate voted 48-0, the House voted 196-3 and 67% of state voters approved the Keystone Fund. Now Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed 2012-2013 budget diverts the Keystone Fund to general government operations and leaves zero Keystone dollars for statewide recreation, park and conservation projects.
Since it was established nearly 20 years ago, the Keystone Fund has had a significant impact on improving the quality of life and economic viability of our local communities. Each dollar of Keystone Fund investment typically leverages two dollars or more in direct local investments in our parks, trails and green spaces. As such, the Keystone Fund has created real, tangible and lasting assets for the public and the trail community.
More than 3,000 projects have been completed in Pennsylvania with the Keystone Fund including:
*850 trail projects for walking, bicycling and other recreation uses
*The development and rehabilitation of more than 2,500 community parks and natural areas
*The protection of more than 145,000 acres of open space for parks, greenways and wildlife habitat
*Improvements to facilities in our national award-winning state park and forest systems
We need to contact our legislators before the state budget is finalized and ask them to preserve the Keystone Fund for recreation, parks and conservation and to not divert this invaluable funding stream to general government operations.
Let the voters speak for conservation in 2012 as they did in 1993. Please call or write your state legislators – or knock on their office doors – and tell them to preserve the Keystone Fund for conservation, recreation, trails and local communities.
In the meantime, get out and protect your favorite trail.