From forested mountain ranges and lush valleys to fertile farmland and twisting rivers, there are spectacular natural places throughout Pennsylvania. Residents and tourists alike reap the benefits of these places and are passionate about protecting them. Growing Greener investments have been instrumental in supporting the conservation efforts of local communities and organizations, and have allowed state agencies to manage Pennsylvania’s land, water, and wildlife in a responsible manner.
Loss of Open Space
Pennsylvania’s natural places face many of the same development pressures that threaten productive farmland. Populations in metropolitan areas increase, and sprawling residential and commercial developments are built to accommodate an expanding population and consumer base. All too often these developments are poorly designed, with little consideration of the environmental damage caused by shortsighted land use policies. Between 1992 and 2011, the amount of land used for development in Pennsylvania increased by 133%, and thousands more acres are lost each year. Stream corridors are ditched or buried, causing problems related to runoff and erosion. Wetland habitats are destroyed, which throws valuable ecosystems out of balance. Forest systems are fragmented and targeted for energy development, threatening their wildlife populations and economic productivity as working timber lands. Without the continued efforts of vigilant conservationists, many of Pennsylvania’s most valuable natural areas will vanish.
High Demand for Conservation Easements
Conservation in partnership with local communities and land trusts is a proven way to protect natural places and make communities livable and economically competitive. As a result, the demand for conservation investments remains incredibly high. Over the last 20 years, local land trusts have requested almost $700 million to help acquire easements.
Priority Land and Water Acquisitions
The Bureau of Forestry’s list of priority land and water acquisitions includes projects from 12 counties, totaling 45,000 acres. Many include lakes and streams as well as open lands, form strategic connectors between other parcels, or augment existing state forests. The price to acquire and protect these special places is over $65 million.
GROWING GREENER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Helping Land Trusts Preserve Open Space
Grants funded by Growing Greener have helped land trusts permanently preserve large swaths of beautiful natural landscapes across Pennsylvania. In the decade between 2006 and 2016, land trusts protected 223,000 acres, an average of 61 per day. These grants leverage local investment and support for land conservation, in many cases between $2 and $3 for every grant dollar awarded. In one successful project, Natural Lands combined a Growing Greener grant with money from local municipalities and a charitable organization to purchase a conservation easement on 360 acres of the Paradise Farm property in Chester County. The parcel was identified as a wildlife diversity corridor, and also provided fishing opportunities and public access to a trail corridor.