Twentieth Anniversary of Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund Celebrated

March 18, 2013

Keystone partners from across Pennsylvania along with Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan and the original 1993 legislative champions today celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund at a special event in the Capitol Rotunda.

"Since 1993, grant investments through the Keystone program have worked to bolster our vision for the strength of our economy, the vibrancy of our communities, the health of our families and our quality of life in Pennsylvania," Allan said. "The legacy of the Keystone program is that it allows us to partner with communities so that they can expand and improve the wonderful assets that make the places we call home vital and attractive."

The anniversary celebration included the presentation of the Keystone 20th Anniversary Awards, designed to recognize successful Keystone projects throughout the Commonwealth, and the release of a new report by The Trust for Public Land finding that every $1 invested by the Keystone Fund in land and water conservation returns $7 in economic value of natural goods and services.

"Some of the key economic benefits of land conservation through programs like Keystone come in the form of natural goods and services," said Jessica Sargent, director of conservation economics for The Trust for Public Land. "Protected parks and open space remove air pollutants, protect and enhance water quality and supplies, provide fish and game habitat, produce food, manage stormwater, and provide flood control and other necessary functions."

Moreover, the new report detailed various other economic benefits of investments in the Keystone Fund.

Not only do investments in programs such as Keystone help create jobs and generate revenue, they also increase the value of nearby properties, boost spending at local businesses, make communities more attractive places to live, influence business location and relocation decisions, reduce medical costs by encouraging exercise and other healthy outdoor activities, provide low or no-cost recreation to families, stabilize local taxes in the communities in which they are located and help revitalize depressed areas.

The report was funded with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds in partnership with Richard King Mellon Foundation.

In recognition of the contributions of the Keystone Fund, the celebration included the presentation of the Keystone 20th Anniversary Awards. The awards recognized exemplary projects in six categories - library, recreation, trail, historic preservation, state park and conservation.

"For more than two decades, the Keystone Fund has been helping communities protect open space, develop community parks and recreation areas, support libraries, preserve historic sites, and protect and improve our state game, forest, and park lands," said presenter Robert Griffith, former executive director of the Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society and one of the original Keystone champions. "These projects demonstrate that investments in the Keystone Fund help make real and lasting improvements in our communities."

Awardees received a special wooden plaque made entirely from hardwoods grown and harvested in the Pennsylvania Wilds to be displayed at the site of their project.

Griffith received special recognition for his leadership in the creation of the Keystone fund and his decades of service advocating for parks and recreation throughout Pennsylvania.

The Keystone 20th Anniversary celebration was hosted by the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, Pennsylvania Library Association, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society, and Preservation Pennsylvania.

Festivities concluded with a Keystone Cake cutting by original Keystone champions responsible for the creation of the program in 1993, including, former Lt. Governor Mark Singel, former Sen. F. Joseph Loeper and former Rep. William Lloyd.

About Keystone: The Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund is a critical dedicated funding source for recreation and conservation projects, libraries, historic preservation initiatives and higher education. Established in 1993 with an overwhelmingly approved voter referendum, a 48-0 vote in the Pennsylvania Senate and a 196-3 vote in the House, the Keystone Fund automatically receives 15 percent of the state's realty transfer tax. Since its establishment, the fund has helped conserve more than 130,000 acres of green space, supported more than 1,900 park projects, and funded 570 historic preservation projects and more than 200 library projects.