The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association applauds the PA General Assembly for supporting key conservation investment programs in the 2012-13 state budget.

The House and Senate have ensured that the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund will continue to create lasting conservation, recreational and economic benefits for Pennsylvania and that cigarette tax revenue will continue to finance the preservation of the Commonwealth’s most productive farmland. Both conservation investment programs will continue, unharmed, into 2013, the 20th anniversary of the dedication of tax revenue to both Keystone (state realty transfer tax) and farmland preservation (cigarette tax).

Citizens across the state spoke out and told legislators how projects supported by these funds are vital to their communities. The Association especially thanks Representative Bill Adolph, House Appropriations Majority Chairman, who listened to citizen concerns and championed continued state investments in preserving productive farmland, conserving open space important to communities and ensuring outdoor recreational opportunities for the public.

“The Keystone Fund is Pennsylvania’s key tool for building lasting legacies in our communities,” said Andrew Loza, PALTA Executive Director. “Twenty years from now, Pennsylvanians will still be enjoying the fruits of Keystone investments when they visit local, county and state parks. Fifty years from now, Pennsylvanians will still be riding the thousands of miles of trails protected and built with Keystone investments. A hundred years from now, Pennsylvanians will still be enjoying the wildlife in natural areas protected with Keystone.”

Two thousand farm families are on county waiting lists to protect their farms. “With the dedication of cigarette tax revenue to farmland preservation, the General Assembly helps ensure the long-term security of Pennsylvania’s food supply and the sustainability of local farming economies,” Loza said.

In 1993, the General Assembly, governor and voters recognized both the need for and value of long-term support for conservation and outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania. They established the Keystone Recreaton, Parks and Conservation Fund, dedicating 15% of State Realty Transfer Tax revenues to creating lasting legacies for Pennsylvania and ensuring that essential investments in Pennsylvania’s future would occur as land is developed and trades hands.

Also in 1993, the General Assembly dedicated a portion of cigarette tax revenue to farmland preservation. $20.485 million a year is now directed to farmland preservation.

“On behalf of the 75 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and their 120,000 Pennsylvania members and contributors, I thank legislators for their continued support of the Keystone Fund and farmland preservation,” Loza said.

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