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A Keystone for 25 Years of Community Improvements

July 11, 2018 03:45 PM

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​Ever wonder how your local park was able to get that new swing set? Or how construction on that bridge began at your favorite Pennsylvania state park? Or how your favorite walking or biking trail came to be?

These successes may have been possible because of a fund that’s supported thousands of community improvements in Pennsylvania: The Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund (Keystone Fund).

Celebrating 25 Years of the Keystone Fund

In 1993, the Pennsylvania General Assembly established the Keystone Fund, a permanent dedicated funding source for making investments in recreation, parks, conservation, historical preservation, and more in communities across the state.

They Keystone Fund’s 25th anniversary was July 2, 2018, and DCNR and its partners continue to celebrate the fund and all that’s been accomplished because of it. The fund has created a lasting impression on communities by improving quality of life for individuals and families, and helping to boost local economies.

What’s Been Accomplished in 25 Years?

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The Keystone Fund is DCNR’s primary source of funding for recreation and conservation grants, funding more than 4,500 projects.

In just 25 years, the Keystone Fund has supported (PDF):

  • More than 161,000 acres of local greenspace
  • More than 3,000 community parks projects
  • More than 300 trail projects
  • 570 historic preservation projects
  • Many state park and forest improvements, such as visitor centers, restrooms, parking lots, bridges, etc.

Our state parks and forests need regular capital improvements to meet the needs of their tens of millions of users. The Keystone Fund provides funding critical for rehabilitating and upgrading park and forest infrastructure, which helps conserve these resources and ensure a safe and healthy setting for public recreation and environmental education.

The Fund as an Economic Booster

The Outdoor Industry Association recently identified Pennsylvania as the fifth largest outdoor recreation economy in the nation, supporting an estimated 261,000 jobs.

The fund’s investments support this outdoor recreation economy, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity, ranging from recreational purchases and wages to increased values of properties. In fact, each dollar of Keystone Fund investment typically leverages $3.13 in direct local investments in parks, trails, community green spaces, and libraries.

Learn more about the economic benefits of conservation from the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association’s Conservation Tools.

Current Projects & Recent Successes

The Keystone Fund has provided countless accomplishments and success stories throughout the years.

In addition, many projects are underway right now in communities across Pennsylvania. Here’s a look at some of the current efforts supported by the fund:

Safe Harbor Bridge in Manor Township

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The Keystone Fund is supporting the design and rehabilitation of the Safe Harbor Bridge over the Conestoga River on the Enola Low Grade Rail Trail in Manor and Conestoga townships, Lancaster County. The bridge is a former railroad trestle spanning over 1,500 feet across and over 100 feet above the Conestoga River. 

When completed, the bridge will connect 28 miles of open trail in Lancaster County. Those 28 miles have the potential to then connect with the Chester Valley Trail and Schuylkill River Trail in Chester and Montgomery counties and eventually into the City of Philadelphia.

This project also is supported by significant funding commitments from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Lancaster County.

Mill Park Development in Rockledge Borough

The development of the small community park -- Mill Park in Rockledge Borough, Montgomery County – will make a big difference in the community. Work supported by the Keystone Fund includes:

  • Construction of nature play area and pedestrian walkway
  • Installation of nature play equipment with required safety surfacing
  • Site improvements including ADA access, landscaping, and project sign

East Goshen Park Rehabilitation and Development in East Goshen Township

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The Keystone Fund is supporting the rehabilitation and further development of East Goshen Park, East Goshen Township, Chester County. Work includes:

  • Construction of nature play area, pedestrian walkway, pavilion and shade structures
  • Installation of nature play equipment with required safety surfacing
  • Site improvements including ADA access, landscaping, and project sign 

Looking to the Future

The demand is high for Keystone Fund projects, with nearly 40 percent of projects submitted to DCNR going unfunded last year.

The funded projects create real and lasting improvements that make Pennsylvania a highly sought-out place to live, work, and play. Without this funding as an incentive, many local investments in conservation and recreation would dry up.

With 25 years under the commonwealth’s belt, DCNR and partners strive to continue and improve upon the great successes of the Keystone Fund, to support and improve resources for generations to come!

Learn more about DCNR’s grants programs and successful projects from DCNR’s website.

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