The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund is a critical dedicated funding source for recreation and conservation projects, libraries, and historical preservation initiatives. The Keystone Fund enabling act requires that 15% of the state’s Realty Transfer Tax receipts be put into the Keystone Fund for distribution by the following state agencies:

State Agency
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)
Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission (PHMC)
Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)
State System of Higher Education (SSHE)

DCNR Funding

The funding allocated to the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) is divided (by law) for the following uses:

  • 30% (of the 15% of the Realty Tax) goes to both the Bureaus of State Parks and Forestry, primarily to rehabilitate and upgrade state park and forestry infrastructure. However, up to 10% of this amount may be directed towards rails to trails projects, and up to 10% may also be directed towards rivers protection and conservation projects;
  • 25% is provided as grants for local recreation initiatives, such as ballparks, playgrounds, etc.; and
  • No less that 10% is to be provided to Land Trusts for natural areas and open space planning and acquisition.

The funding is managed by two DCNR bureaus; the Bureau of Recreation & Conservation allocates monies for local recreation, rails-trails, and land trust projects; the Bureau of Facility Design & Construction manages the funds used for Parks & Forestry improvements.

PHMC Funding

Approximately 20-25% of the Keystone money that PHMC receives is distributed in the form of grants. The remaining funds are used internally to maintain and repair state owned and operated museums and sites throughout the state. Funding is allocated for preservation, rehabilitation and restoration projects.

PDE Funding

Library funding is distributed by the Department of Education through a competitive grant process. Grants are available to public libraries and municipalities for structural improvements, accessibility projects and for new construction or renovation projects. Two types of grants, major grants for projects requesting more than $75,000 and mini grants for projects of $75,000 or less.

SSHE Funding

The Keystone funds that SSHE distributes to the 14 state-owned universities are NOT in the form of grants. They are provided based on a formula set by the Board of Regents factoring enrollment, number of buildings, total amount of deferred maintenance at each campus, etc. The 14 universities are the only recipients of this money.