HARRISBURG – Pennsylvanians will benefit from revitalized communities, new recreational opportunities, and work to preserve natural resources through the state’s investment of more than $23 million for 189 conservation and recreation projects in 65 counties, announced Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley.
“The health and vitality of our communities is reflected in the quality of their parks and trails, access to rivers, open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities,” Quigley said. “This round of grants will fund almost 200 projects to help preserve and enhance those natural amenities.”
Funding for the grants comes primarily from DCNR’s Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax and the Growing Greener program.
“DCNR put a significant effort into ‘greening’ the grant program this year. Part of the selection process included scoring applications based on a number of green criteria, and this focus clearly had an impact on applications from across the state,” Quigley said. “Generally, the applications included green construction materials; provisions for more trees; green stormwater handling technologies; and more surfaces that water can pass through.
“Many of the funded facilities are close-to-home for many people, requiring less driving and expense to experience. That’s a big benefit of the ‘staycation’ trend,” Quigley added.
In keeping with the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, 39 of the grants were awarded to trail projects. Eighty four percent of Pennsylvanians responded that walking was their number-one recreational activity in a recent survey. Additionally, more than 90 grants will be used to develop or rehabilitate recreation, park and conservation areas and facilities.
The grants announced today will also help to protect critical habitat, preserve open space, and create or upgrade community parks for active recreation. In total, 27 grants were awarded to acquire more than 2,200 acres of land.
Finally, two grants will help develop iPhone applications that promote tourism, three grants will develop skate parks, and two grants will develop dog parks.
Combined, projects benefiting from the state’s $23 million in grants account for a total investment of more than $76 million—or nearly three-and-a-half times more than the state’s commitments. The additional funds come from local, county and private investments.
“As in previous years, the demand for these grants was higher than the money we had available, and we were unable to fund 177 applications,” Quigley said. “The number of applicants we cannot fund next year will be even greater, as one of our primary funding sources—the Growing Greener II bond fund—will be depleted.”
For a complete list of grants by county, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/grants/indexlist.aspx.