HARRISBURG, PA-Growing Greener bond funding of $625 million was included in the state’s $24-billion 2005-2006 budget signed by Gov. Ed Rendell. He has been advocating the initiative since he first took office. It will be spread over six years and be shared among six different departments and commissions.

The largest share, $230 million, will go to the state Department of Environmental Protection. It is devoted to the remediation of contaminated industrial sites and environmental problems at abandoned mines, financing advanced energy projects and the clean up of rivers and streams.

Another large portion, $217.5 million, has been allocated for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to preserve natural areas and open spaces, improve state parks, and enhance local recreations needs. The Department of Agriculture obtained $80 million to protect working farms.

The Department of Community and Economic Development receives $50 million to revitalize communities through investments in housing and mixed-use redevelopment projects. Another $27.5 million goes to the Fish and Boat Commission to repair fish hatcheries, and the remaining $20 million goes to the state Game Commission for the repair and upgrading of facilities related to game habitat.

A provision of the law calls for the establishment of an Environmental Block Grant program that allows counties to dip into the funding. Over the six-year period, they can collectively designate up to $90 million over the six-year period for specific needs at the county level, as long as the projects are within the six designated areas of authority.

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