The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides $7 billion to Pennsylvania counties, townships, boroughs, and cities. Some of these dollars will backfill lost tax revenue, but for most if not all local governments, a lot of money is available for new community investments. Please reach out to your officials to make sure that land conservation, waterway restoration, and park and trail projects are included in these investments.

The law firm of Hawke McKeon & Sniscak LLP, which has deep experience in regulatory affairs and as solicitor and special counsel to local governments, has reviewed ARP funding rules and found that these types of projects are clearly eligible for ARP dollars. Investments in parks and other public outdoor recreation spaces, natural infrastructure to prevent pollution and manage stormwater, and land and easement acquisitions in support of these efforts are among the eligible expenses.

The firm has produced a 8-page opinion letter for WeConservePA to help guide local government officials regarding American Rescue Plan spending. If your county or local municipal government leaders are unsure about the legality of using ARP funds for conservation-related projects, I encourage you to share this letter with them.

Governments have until 12/31/2024 to obligate American Rescue Plan money and 12/31/2026 to spend it all. This is an incredible, unprecedented funding opportunity. Don’t miss out on it! Many organizations are or will be competing for local government’s attention. Conservationists have compelling cases for prioritizing local government dollars to conservation-related projects. It’s crucial that you and your organization start making these cases if you haven’t yet done so.

To further support your effort, Silas Chamberlin has produced an excellent video and memo providing background and arguments for use of American Rescue Plan dollars for an array of projects.

Please share local successes in tapping American Rescue Plan dollars with WeConservePA. As appropriate to your situation, we will keep information confidential or share it broadly to help others. Please share with Lina Berón Echavarría at [email protected].