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Op-Ed by State Senator John Yudichak

Since its creation in 1999, Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program has funded hundreds of local parks and trail projects, conserved more than 80,000 acres of threatened open space, and restored hundreds of miles of streams and waterways.

Statewide, the program has also protected more than 78,000 acres of farmland, restored more than 1,600 acres of abandoned mine land, and helped reduce flooding and water pollution through 400 watershed protection projects and more than 100 drinking and wastewater treatment improvements.

In Carbon and Luzerne Counties, the Growing Greener program has enhanced our communities through a vast range of investments from improving water quality in our watersheds, reclaiming acres of abandoned mine land and expanding tourist and recreational opportunities. In Carbon County, the historic Delaware and Lehigh Trail is a central part of the heritage tourism industry in northeastern Pennsylvania. In Luzerne County, non-profit organizations like the Earth Conservancy, have partnered with Pennsylvania to transform thousands of acres of mine-scarred land into new recreational and economic opportunities.

Continued investments in improving our environment are critical to our quality of life in northeastern Pennsylvania, and set the stage to invest in both community and economic development. Growing Greener must continue to deliver strategic and common-sense aid within our communities to support beautification, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth.

Yet, despite the program’s proven track record of success, the need remains greater than ever. Local communities will soon be tackling significant stormwater infrastructure upgrades, with little availability of state aid. Thousands of miles of streams and rivers are impaired, thousands of acres of abandoned mine land remain untouched, and miles of trails require upgrades.

Working with a broad coalition of environmental and economic development groups, I am supporting bipartisan legislation, to be introduced by State Senator Tom Killion, that provides renewed investment in our Growing Greener program.

We can keep Pennsylvania growing greener by investing in a time-tested and result-producing program, like Growing Greener, that will allow us to continue protecting our natural resources, boost economic growth in local communities, and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

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