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Gerlach Secures Funding For Birdsboro Preservation Efforts

House FY’ 07 Interior Appropriations Bill includes $300,000 for forest preservation efforts in Berks County, $200,000 for the restoration of the Ben Franklin Memorial and $450,000 for the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area

Washington, May 19 -  Congressman Jim Gerlach today praised passage of the FY ‘07 Interior Appropriations Bill that provides significant funding for several key projects in southeastern Pennsylvania. The legislation passed the House Thursday afternoon.

Known as the Birdsboro Waters Forest Legacy Project, the land is situated among more than 15,000 acres of uninterrupted forest surrounding French Creek State Park. The $300,000 appropriation will be used to purchase a conservation easement that will preserve the site forever. The project was included in the President’s 2007 budget to Congress for Forest Legacy funding and has the support of Natural Lands Trust.

“This appropriation will go a long way toward protecting this spectacular region for the continued enjoyment of current Berks County residents while rightfully preserving it for our children’s’ enjoyment as well,” Rep. Gerlach said. “The Birdsboro Waters Forest Legacy Project is a great public project, one that I support and one that I’m glad to see my colleagues in the House do as well.”

The FY ’07 Interior Appropriations bill also includes $200,000 toward the restoration of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in Philadelphia. Sculpted by James Earle Fraser who also designed the famous buffalo nickel, the statue weighs 30 tons and sits on a 92-ton pedestal of white Seravezza marble in Memorial Hall in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Congressman Gerlach introduced the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial Commemoration Act of 2005 in the House last year. The legislation authorizes up to $10 million toward the restoration of the Ben Franklin Memorial.

Additionally, the House-passed legislation also includes $1 million for the Highlands Conservation Act and $450,000 for the Schuylkill River National Heritage Corridor.

“The Schuylkill River heritage corridor is an invaluable resource for this region,” Rep. Gerlach said. “The money in the appropriations bill will allow for the further development and expansion of the areas surrounding the river which communities throughout the 6th District are building hiking trails, educational centers and environmental retreats.”

In addition to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the appropriations bill passed by the House today funds the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service as well as numerous environmental programs and projects. For instance, the legislation provides $1.3 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and $5 million for the Flight 93 Memorial to be built in Pennsylvania.

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