During the COVID-19 crisis, Pennsylvania’s parks and trails have seen substantial increases in use across the commonwealth. People have turned to these important outdoor public open spaces for fresh air, wellness, recreation, and transportation.
Despite record numbers of people using Pennsylvania parks and trails, legislators in Harrisburg are considering cuts to a program that provides critical funding for these amenities.
The passing of House Bill 2004 would threaten the improvement of Pennsylvania’s outdoor economy by limiting government support given to the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation fund. Since 1993, the Keystone Fund has invested $1.03 billion in over 5,500 projects across the state. Some of their projects local to Pittsburgh include Three Rivers Heritage Trail, Point State Park, Convention Center Riverfront Landing, North Shore Riverfront Park, Washington’s Landing, and the Riverfront Vision and Investment Plan. Investments from the Keystone Fund have made Pennsylvania a better place to live, work and play.
We encourage you to fill out this quick form to your state representative (really, it only takes a minute!). Ask them to preserve Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation funding for our commonwealth’s parks and trails. Below is our own letter from Riverlife President and CEO Matthew Galluzzo:
To the Honorable Rep. Wheatley, District 19:
Riverlife is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization that has worked since 1999 to implement a master plan for the redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. Over the past two decades, the public investment in the city’s riverfront trails has catalyzed over $4.2 billion in economic development to our region. Our trail system connects Pittsburgh to sister cities like Washington, D.C., and also countless small towns throughout the Mon Valley and across the Commonwealth; small towns that rely on trail tourism as part of their future.
These success stories are the result of programs like the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund. The General Assembly and Pennsylvania voters established these funds to support trails, parks, and land conservation, and provide a new economy for cities and towns that can see real financial benefit from outdoor recreation users and the small businesses that serve them. During the COVID-19 crisis, park and trail usage in Pittsburgh rose over 36%. At a time when outdoor spaces are vital to physical and mental health and active transportation, we strongly urge you to protect the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund.
Please oppose House Bill 2004 when it comes to the House floor, and any other legislation that cuts these critical Keystone funds. Millions of Pennsylvanians rely on these essential outdoor public amenities.
President and CEO
Top image of the Great Lawn at Point State Park, photo by Maranie Rae Staab, used with permission.