Environmentalists plan Harrisburg rally for more green budget funding

A coalition of environmental organizations and a bipartisan group of legislators plan to rally Tuesday in Harrisburg for increased funding to a popular state program that supports open space, trails and mine cleanups.

The rally is organized by the Growing Greener Coalition, a group of conservation, recreation, and preservationists that say funding has been slashed over the years.

Growing Greener program funding has dropped from an average of about $200 million in the mid-2000s to $57 million this year, reflecting a 75 percent cut. The coalition says it's identified a need for $315 million in annual funding.

The state’s Growing Greener and Growing Greener II programs were initiated to fund a variety of projects. Over the years, they’ve paid for thousands of acres of farmland-preservation projects, open space preservation, park maintenance, abandoned mine cleanups, wetlands restorations, new or upgraded water and sewer systems, plugging of abandoned oil and gas wells, and fish hatchery repairs.

Locally, money has gone to Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River Trail, Race Street Pier and Bartram’s Garden.

The rally starts at 10 a.m. on the steps of Pennsylvania’s Capitol.