by Hayden Mitman of LehighValleyNews.com
Additional reporting by Kathy Knauer, The Allegheny Front
Pennsylvania is putting $90 million dollars into more than 330 parks and nature conservation projects across the state.
In announcing the grant program Tuesday, Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said it’s the largest ever single investment into recreation and conservation.
Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal funds.
The money is intended to create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources and revitalize communities.
Adams Dunn said the new money tops last year’s record-breaking grant investment of $70 million. And, she said, the hope is it will help bring people closer to nature.
“We have a goal of having a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvanian. And, that sounds like one of those lofty goals you never can reach, but, in fact, it is doable,” she said.
The funding will be spent on a variety of initiatives such as an Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]-accessible trail and parking lot at Clark Nature Preserve in Lancaster County, and creating a diversity and inclusion program at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia.
In western Pennsylvania, projects include $500,000 for Allegheny County to rehabilitate two sites in South Park and $477,000 for the Allegheny Land Trust to acquire land and develop a stewardship plan for the Churchhill Valley Greenway. The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority will receive $1 million for improvements to the Ghost Town Trail.
“It puts federal money to work in what it’s intended to do: restore the economy, restore hopefulness and restore quality of life,” Adams Dunn said.