DCNR Secretary: American Rescue Fund Dollars One Option To Address $1 Billion State Parks, Forests Maintenance Project Backlog, Paying Back Oil & Gas Fund

On September 22, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn told DCNR’s Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council one way to address the $1 billion backlog in maintenance and safety projects in State Parks and Forests was to use federal American Rescue Fund dollars.

Pennsylvania has over $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funds sitting unused.  Read more here.

“We have an over $1 billion backlog in infrastructure needs in the park and forest system. If you look at the park and forest system, if you look at the trail gaps across Pennsylvania, there's a $200 million need. So the need is there, it's strong,” said Dunn.  “DCNR also has a list of high-hazard dams that need repair, along with roads, bridges, sewer systems, water systems.”

Dunn noted one bipartisan bill introduced by Senators John Gordner (R-Columbia), Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) and Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester)--  Senate Bill 525-- would allocate $500 million from federal American Rescue Fund monies for watershed restoration, mine reclamation, recreation and other environmental projects.  Read more here.

Using the American Rescue Fund for the state park and forest system would also help the Commonwealth meet its obligations under a recent PA Supreme Court ruling calling for the return of $383 million in natural gas drilling revenues back to DCNR’s Oil and Gas Fund to support natural resource projects.  Read more here.

“The PA Supreme Court announced a decision based on the PEDF [PA Environmental Defense Foundation] case from 2012 that talked about the [unconstitutional transfer of ] $383 million from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to the General Fund,” said Dunn.

“To my delight, the governor mentioned that he thought it would be fair to make good on that and return the funding to the corpus [Oil and Gas Fund] by using American Rescue Plan dollars,” said Dunn.  Read more here.

“So, we're very interested in the outcome of Senate Bill 525 and Senator Gordon has worked to get that bill passed,” said Dunn.  “The bill now has almost 20 co-sponsors.”

October 27 - Economics And The Outdoors

CNRAC will hold the second in its CNRAC Conversations Series on October 27 to discuss the topic of Economics and the Outdoors.

A panel of economic development, tourism and business leaders will address the impact public assets like parks, forests and trails have on our economic and community health and vitality.

Discussion will also include the increased growth in outdoor use and visitor expectations and the concern with aging infrastructure.

All with interest in this topic are invited to attend including convention and visitors bureaus, tourist promotion agencies, economic development organizations, contractors, Chambers of Commerce, and others in the hospitality, tourism, recreation and outdoor sectors.

CNRAC member Silas Chamberlin, Vice President of Economic and Community Development of the York County Economic Alliance, will facilitate the discussion.

Click Here for more details as they become available.

For more information about Council activities, visit DCNR's Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council webpage.

Related Articles:

-- Senate Committee Meets Sept. 28 On Bills Allocating A Portion Of American Rescue Fund Monies For Local Environmental Improvement Projects

-- Growing Greener Coalition: Let’s Invest In Natural Infrastructure So We Don’t Have To Worry About Floods  [Video]

-- WeConservePA: Sept. 28 - Understanding Funding Opportunities Thru The American Rescue Plan

-- Senate/House Return Sept. 20 - Will They Fund Local Flood Prevention, Watershed Restoration, Recreation Projects With Part Of The $5 Billion That’s Laying Around?

-- PA Supreme Court Again Declares Transfers From DCNR Oil & Gas Fund Unconstitutional Under Environmental Rights Amendment

-- PA Environmental Defense Foundation Files Petition In Court To Order Commonwealth To Return $1.3 Billion In Revenue From State Forest Drilling Unconstitutionally Transferred From Oil & Gas Lease Fund

[Posted: September 23, 2021]


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