Monday, November 16, 2009

DCNR 2009-10 Budget Cut Impact Statement

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources released these talking points on the impact of budget cuts including the fact that furloughs, the elimination of vacancies and the reduction of seasonal wage employees will mean a reduction of 367 positions at DCNR.

FY 2009-10 budget cuts DCNR’s General Fund budget by 25 percent, or $28 million.
-- Parks - cut $11.3 million, or 19 percent.
-- Forestry - overall budget cut $7.4 million or 13 percent
-- General Government Operations cut $4.2 million, or 20 percent
-- Forest Pest Management cut $3.2 million, or 62 percent
-- Heritage Areas, previously $8.2 million, was eliminated.

As a result of these reductions, we have been forced to:
-- Eliminate 66 unfilled salaried positions that had been subject to the hiring freeze: 23 in State Parks, 24 in Forestry, 19 in General Government Operations
-- Wage staff reductions:
-- Seasonal wage staff cut by 240 employees over the past year
-- Shortened the work season by several months this fall for an additional 891 seasonal employees
700 in Parks and 191 in Forestry.
-- Furlough a total of 9 full-time employees: 2 from State Parks, 5 from Forestry, 2 from General Government Operations
-- Vacancies + furloughs + FTE of wage staff reductions is equivalent to reducing staff by 367 full-time positions.

What will this mean?
-- The General Fund appropriation is not sufficient to support the state parks system. Governor Rendell has stepped in and ordered the use of Oil and Gas funds to keep all 117 state parks open..
-- Reduce service levels at remaining parks to minimum acceptable level
-- shorten swimming season at pools, beaches;
-- early closings of campgrounds;
-- more selective snow removal, mowing;
-- reduce environmental education, interpretive and recreational programming and teacher training.
-- Defer maintenance on state forest roads; potentially closing those roads as conditions warrant.
-- Eliminate program that raises/sells native seedlings to private forest landowners.
-- Eliminate gypsy moth spraying, curtail the surveillance of other forest pests.
-- Eliminate PAMAP.

How DCNR will maintain its core mission with reduced resources
-- The Bureau of Forestry will utilize every efficiency possible to continue to maintain the balance between different uses of our forests such as recreation, wildlife habitat and sustainable timber harvests, and ensure a healthy forest in the future.
-- Large infrastructure projects that either will generate additional revenues, or are important to the long term care and sustainability of the system, will continue with the funding provided by law specifically for those purposes. Examples are:
-- Stabilization of the early-1900s steel bridge damaged by a tornado at Kinzua Bridge State Park
-- Completing construction of the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park
-- Completing the rehabilitation of Point State Park in Pittsburgh
-- Completing construction of the Elk Country Visitors Center in the Pennsylvania Wilds
-- Repairing flood damaged areas at Delaware Canal State Park
-- Completing a wildlife viewing/visitor center at Sinnemahoning State Park
-- Although less money is available, DCNR will continue to make focused and strategic investments in conservation and recreation through its grants program with the dollars that have been provided by law specifically for those purposes.

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