Public Policy

Public Funding for Conservation


Public investments in conservation are a vitally important component of support for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s mission and programs. The commitment of federal, state, and local dollars for conservation reflect the widespread endorsement of these priorities by our citizens and communities. The following are a selection of the government programs which enable WPC to perform its work.

Canoeing at Lake Pymatuning

Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund (Key 93)

The Keystone Fund has supported thousands of community park development projects including athletic fields, community centers, playgrounds and pools. Tens of thousands of acres of community open space, wildlife habitat, state forests and parks are forever protected and available for public enjoyment because of the Keystone Fund. Keystone has improved public access and facilities in our state parks and forests. It also has supported community library, museum and higher education construction projects.

Each dollar of Key 93 investment typically leverages a dollar or more in direct local and county investments in our parks, special community green spaces and libraries. The additional benefits brought by improving the livability of our communities and providing recreational and outdoor opportunities to our children are immeasurable.

WPC strongly opposes diverting any dollars from the Keystone Fund into the General Fund, or using them for any other reason than their intended purpose.

Environmental Stewardship Fund (Growing Greener)

Since 1999, Growing Greener has been Pennsylvania’s preeminent program for funding conservation priorities, including land protection, water quality, urban parks and recreation, and historic preservation efforts.

For the past several years, WPC has been directly involved in helping to establish the next generation of the Growing Greener program.

Marcellus Legacy Fund

Act 13 of 2012 created Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Legacy Fund, which reinvests unconventional natural gas drilling fees back into environmental protection and restoration through a suite of grant programs aimed at watershed protection, trails and greenways, and abandoned well cleanup, among others.

WPC supports using the fee collections in this way and has successfully advanced several projects partially funded through this source.

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

LWCF has a 50 year history of bipartisan support and has been employed to create state and local outdoor recreation opportunities, acquire inholdings, and protect critical lands in national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, wild and scenic river corridors, national scenic and historic trails, Civil War battlefields, and other federal areas. LWCF also provides matching grants to states for state and local parks, as well as for working lands and wildlife habitat protection, ensuring close-to-home access to recreation, the protection of state and local natural resource areas for hunting and fishing, and support for local economic growth. LWCF drives local economies not just by helping recreation lands keep up with population and development pressure, but also by creating and protecting jobs in our working forests and on working farms and ranches.

WPC supports full, mandatory funding of LWCF as achieved in H.R. 3195 and S. 1081 (116th Congress).

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

CDBG is a flexible, community-based federal program that allows cities to target funding at a wide variety of neighborhood improvement projects directed towards revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development and providing improved community facilities and services in low- and moderate-income areas.

WPC receives funding for volunteer driven community flower gardens in CDBG-designated communities in the city of Pittsburgh.


Allegheny Regional Asset District (ARAD)

Funded by the 1% county-wide sales tax, the Regional Asset District finances libraries, parks and recreation projects, sports and cultural facilities and programs. The Conservancy receives operating and capital grant support for its gardens in Allegheny County.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Established in 2010, GLRI is a coordinated federal effort to invest in the conservation of the Great Lakes region through cleanups, land protection, and invasive species prevention and control.

As of February 2017, this multi-agency initiative has invested $1.7 billion in a wide variety of projects that aim to protect and restore the largest system of fresh water in the nation.

WPC recommends a minimum $300 million annual appropriation for this critical initiative.

PUBLIC POLICY - Del Water Gap Sampling

State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (SWG)

State Wildlife Grants are instrumental in avoiding conflicts between endangered species and landowners, as the program funds research and recovery efforts for non-game species. With more than 1,200 species of plants and animals considered species of special concern in Pennsylvania, SWG leverages federal dollars to protect or restore wildlife populations more effectively than waiting until the populations reach critically low levels and need "emergency room care" through the Endangered Species Act. Ultimately, State Wildlife Grants saves both our nation's precious wildlife heritage and taxpayer dollars.

WPC supports the highest funding level possible for SWG in FY 20. The Conservancy also supports H.R. 3742 the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (116th Congress), which would establish a dedicated source of funding for the management and conservation of state-identified species of concern.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)

NAWCA emphasizes protection, restoration and management of wetland ecosystems, waterfowl habitat and other bird populations through a two-tiered matching grant program.

WPC supports the highest funding level possible for NAWCA for FY 20.

Forest Legacy Program (FLP)

The Forest Legacy Program protects privately-owned working forests by acquiring conservation easements on land threatened by conversion.

The Conservancy opposes any detrimental changes to Forest Legacy in the upcoming Farm Bill, and supports altering the program to include an option to allow third parties to hold easements, as proposed in H.R. 344, the Forest Legacy Management Flexibility Act (115th Congress).

WPC supports a funding level of at least $65 million for FY 20 for the Forest Legacy Program.

PUBLIC POLICY - Forbes State Forest by Greg Funka

Community Forestry and Open Space Program

The Community Forest Program is a grant program that authorizes the U.S. Forest Service to provide financial assistance to local governments, tribal governments, and qualified nonprofit entities to establish community forests that provide tangible educational, economic and environmental benefits.

WPC has signed on to a letter asking for $5 million for this program in FY 20.