(HARRISBURG) – Today, Senators John R. Gordner (R-27) and Bob Mensch (R-24) announced the introduction of legislation to enact a third round of the successful Growing Greener program.
There is a need for this essential program, which seeks to provide crucial funding for our national-leading Farmland Preservation program, Chesapeake Bay clean-up measures, addressing a backlog of projects at our state parks and forests and providing grants for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program.
As introduced, Senate Bill 525 would provide $500 million to the Growing Greener fund, with 45% ($225 million) going to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 40% ($200 million) going to the Department of Environmental Protection and 15% ($75 million) going to the Department of Agriculture. The funds would come from a portion of revenues received from the federal American Rescue Plan of 2021.
“SB 525 seeks to continue and build on the successes of the previous editions of the Growing Greener program” said Senator Gordner. “I am particularly excited about the opportunity for expanded work in our state parks and forests and farmland preservation efforts across the state.”
“This bill is instrumental in ensuring that we can continue protecting our state’s water, land and additional natural resources at the conclusion of the Growing Greener II program,” said Senator Mensch. “The new Growing Greener III program will utilize $500 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This funding is crucial in ensuring our future ability to reduce flooding and water pollution, restore streams and waterways, conserve open space, and more.”
First signed into law in 1999, the Growing Greener I program sought to reduce 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. Growing Greener II invested $625 million to clean up rivers and streams; protect natural areas, open spaces and working farms; and shore up key programs to improve quality of life and revitalize communities across the commonwealth and was signed into law in June 2005.