Growing Greener is the largest single investment of state funds in Pennsylvania’s history to address Pennsylvania’s critical environmental concerns of the 21st century.
Signed into law by the Ridge-Schweiker administration on Dec. 15, 1999, and reauthorized by Gov. Schweiker in June 2002, this legislation will double the funding for the Growing Greener program and extend it through 2012. Growing Greener will slash the backlog of farmland-preservation projects statewide; protect open space; eliminate the maintenance backlog in state parks; clean up abandoned mines and restore watersheds; provide funds for recreational trails and local parks; help communities address land use; and provide new and upgraded water and sewer systems.
The funds are distributed among four state agencies: the Department of Agriculture to administer farmland preservation projects; the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for state park renovations and improvements; the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for water and sewer system upgrades; and Department of Environmental Protection for Watershed Protection, Mine Reclamation, Oil and Gas Well Plugging, Technical Assistance, New and Innovative Technology Grants. These projects can include: watershed assessments and development of watershed restoration or protection plans; implementation of watershed restoration or protection projects (stormwater management wetlands, riparian buffer fencing and planting, streambank restoration (especially FGM), agricultural BMPs); construction of mine drainage remediation systems; reclamation of previously mined lands; and demonstration/education projects and outreach activities.
These grants are available to a variety of eligible applicants, including: counties, authorities and other municipalities; county conservation districts; watershed organizations; and other organizations involved in the restoration and protection of Pennsylvania’s environment. These grants will support local projects to clean up non-point sources of pollution throughout Pennsylvania.
The total dollar commitment to the Growing Greener Program was recently doubled from $645 million to $1.3 billion and extended through 2012 by a permanent dedication of a new $4/ton municipal waste disposal fee to Growing Greener– $50 million in FY 2002-03 (the balance going to the General Fund for this one year) and the full $94 million to Growing Greener from FY 2003-04 through 2012.
Growing Greener represents a historic opportunity for Pennsylvanians to protect and restore our environment. The success of the program is contingent upon coordination and communication at all levels – volunteer watershed groups, community and business leaders, and local, state and federal government agencies. Only with the involvement of all of these partners can the Commonwealth truly benefit from this landmark program and help Pennsylvania “grow greener”.