Friday, May 4, 2018

House Resolution Recognizes 125th Anniversary Of State Forest, State Park System

On Thursday Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) introduced House Resolution 901 recognizing the 125th Anniversary of the State Forest and State Park systems.
“This resolution commemorates the internationally recognized conservation efforts initiated in the Commonwealth by the General Assembly and Governor Robert Pattison in 1893, and the contributions of Gifford Pinchot, Rachel Carson and many other individuals to promote and preserve the Commonwealth’s resources in the 125 years since,” said Rep. Harper.
“The first State Forest Reserve was established with the purchase by the Commonwealth of 7,000 acres in Clinton County at the end of the 19th century. Today, 2.2 million acres of forestland, in 49 of our 67 counties, are sustainably managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“Also in 1893, the Commonwealth set aside the hallowed land of Valley Forge, the site of the third winter encampment of the General George Washington’s Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, thereby creating the first State Park in Pennsylvania,” explained Rep. Harper.
“The Commonwealth presented that Park to the Federal government as a gift for the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, but 121 other State Parks have been created on nearly 300,000 acres of land in the intervening 125 years since its creation.
“These lands are treasures for our Commonwealth and its people. We hope you will join us in commemorating the historic anniversaries of the establishment of the programs that have allowed us to preserve these crucial, beautiful resources,” she said.
The text of House Resolution 901 follows--
Recognizing the 125th anniversary of the State forest system and establishment
of the first State park in Pennsylvania.
WHEREAS, On May 23, 1893, Governor Robert E. Pattison signed Act No. 68, which established the Pennsylvania Forestry Commission, and on May 30 of the same year, Governor Pattison signed Act No. 130, which enabled the Commonwealth to purchase and establish the first State park at Valley Forge; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock, the first forestry commissioner, and other visionary leaders of the Commonwealth understood that forest lands stripped and denigrated by unsustainable timbering and industrial activity could be restored through modern conservation practices and careful stewardship; and
WHEREAS, The Commonwealth began to establish a State Forest Reserve with the purchase of 7,500 acres in Clinton County to be used to "furnish timber, protect the water supply of Young Woman's Creek, and to provide recreation for citizens"; and
WHEREAS, Mira Lloyd Dock, considered to be the mother of forestry in this Commonwealth, assisted in acquiring the first million acres of the State forest system and educated future foresters; and
WHEREAS, Governor Gifford Pinchot had the vision to create a network of forestry work camps that served as a model for the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); and
WHEREAS, Governor Pinchot made extensive use of the CCC in reforesting this Commonwealth and building trails, pavilions, bridges, dams, cabins and other recreational amenities in our State parks and State forests; and
WHEREAS, The Bureau of State Parks was formed in 1929 for the "purpose of promoting outdoor recreation and education, and making available for such use natural areas of unusual scenic beauty, especially such as provide impressive views, waterfalls, gorges, creeks, caves, or other unique and interesting features"; and
WHEREAS, In 1955, the appointment of Maurice K. Goddard as Secretary of Forests and Waters led to his proposal for locating a State park within 25 miles of every resident in this Commonwealth, culminating in the number of State parks nearly doubling; and
WHEREAS, Mr. Goddard spearheaded the passage of Act No. 256 of 1955, known as the Oil and Gas Lease Fund Act, which earmarked royalties from oil and gas leases from State-owned lands for conservation and land acquisition; and
WHEREAS, Statutes enacted in the 1960s authorized Project 70 and Project 500 bond measures that provided funding for parks, forestry, recreational facilities, conservation, land acquisition, water quality and pollution control; and
WHEREAS, The passage of Act No. 50 of 1993, known as the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Act, has funded hundreds of State parks and State forest improvement projects in this Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, From 2009 to 2011, the Bureau of State Parks was awarded the nation's top honor, the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, by the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association; and
WHEREAS, State forests in this Commonwealth are certified as "well-managed" by the Forest Stewardship Council, assuring consumers from across the globe that wood products are harvested in an environmentally responsible manner; and
WHEREAS, The recent enactment of the Growing Greener I and II programs has provided valuable investments in hundreds of State park and State forest projects, including modernization and improvement of infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, Today, the State forest system is managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, whose central location is housed in a building named after Rachel Carson, a driving force of the national conservation movement in the middle of the 20th century; and
WHEREAS, Currently, the State forest system is comprised of 121 State parks and conservation areas in 20 districts with more than 2.2 million acres of forest land located in 48 of the 67 counties of this Commonwealth; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives recognize the 125th anniversary of the State forest system and establishment of the first State park in Pennsylvania.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
To learn more about the Commonwealth's conservation heritage, visit the PA Conservation Heritage Project website.
(Photo: PA Parks & Forests Foundation 2016 People’s Choice Best In Show: Kyle Yates, Cook Forest State Park.)
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