Letters to the editor

The American Rescue Plan is a chance to put Pennsylvanians to work preserving our woods and waters.

During the pandemic, Pennsylvanians turned to the outdoors to connect and heal, highlighting the intrinsic value of our state’s natural resources. In Lancaster County, our local parks, preserved landscapes and wooded trails will always be a welcoming sanctuary in troubled times — as long as we continue to invest in their stewardship.

The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan offers a unique opportunity to do just that —preserve our most valuable resources while putting Pennsylvanians to work.

The need is obvious: 30% of streams in Pennsylvania are impaired for water supplies, aquatic life, fish consumption or recreation opportunities.

In Lancaster County, more than half the 1,400 miles of streams and much of its groundwater are considered unhealthy by the Department of Environmental Protection.

While Pennsylvania has made collaborative efforts to clean up these waters, the demand is still extraordinary. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed alone, the state still falls $324 million short of the estimated annual cost needed to reduce pollutants and meet an Environmental Protection Agency mandate by 2025.

Funding for shovel-ready restoration projects can help us reach this goal, improve water quality and flood control efforts in struggling communities, enhance agriculture and create good-paying conservation jobs while bolstering our state’s outdoor recreation economy.

Directing American Rescue Plan funds to conservation programs could put Pennsylvanians to work strategically on habitat projects in Lancaster County and throughout the commonwealth.

Derek Eberly

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Emily Smedley

Lancaster Clean Water Partners

Carly Dean

Chesapeake Conservancy

Jeff Swinehart

Lancaster Farmland Trust

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