Thursday, June 29, 2017

Let Your Voice Be Heard Now: Planning For PA State Parks Of The Future

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Wednesday announced a strategic plan for Pennsylvania's state parks of the future will kick off this holiday weekend with surveys being made available to park visitors and other interested parties.
"Management of our 121 state parks is an ever-changing undertaking, as there are constantly new challenges and best practices to be considered," Dunn said. "There are careful and deliberate management approaches to be outlined in this plan, and public input gleaned from these surveys will help protect and sustain our state parks now and into the future."
Beginning with the Fourth of July weekend, DCNR will launch its initiative, "Penn's Parks for All – Planning for the State Parks of Tomorrow." Input from these surveys, offered at all 121 state parks across the state, will prove invaluable in the plan's implementation, the secretary said.  
"Pennsylvania's national award-winning system of 121 state parks is now well into its second century of service," Dunn noted. "With a state park within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian, there are a remarkable variety of types and sizes of parks located throughout the Commonwealth.
"During the last 25 years, DCNR has made tremendous improvements in most state parks such as modernizing facilities, adding comfortable cabins, and expanding recreation opportunities.  The department also has worked to better conserve and manage the parks' natural resources, and expand the number of education staff and programs."
To poll visitors and the public on their vision of the future for Pennsylvania state parks, survey questions will include:
-- Should current outdoor recreation opportunities or experiences be changed?
-- Should park overnight accommodations be changed?
-- How should state parks be financed?
-- How can state parks best be protected?
-- Should state parks offer modern conveniences?
-- Are you satisfied with park services, facilities and activities?
"Public participation in this survey is vital," Dunn said. "In the decades ahead, the department wants to ensure that your Pennsylvania state park system will remain as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations."
Bureau of State Parks officials say their goal will be to have a preliminary report, influenced by the information gathered this year, available in the fall of 2018, with a final report in 2019.
Public opportunities to offer input will include:
-- A paper survey and an accompanying state park information booklet to distributed to park visitors this summer and fall;
-- The online survey, being conducted by the Pennsylvania State University's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. This survey, available to everyone, will include a PDF version of the information booklet and also will be offered in Spanish.
-- A phone survey of a statistically-significant sampling of Pennsylvanians that can be extrapolated to represent the state's population;
-- A targeted, online survey for minority and young adult audiences; and a series of stakeholder input meetings to focus on specific selected topics.
Pennsylvania's 121 state parks total almost 300,000 acres. Together with DCNR's state forest system, they are one of the largest expanses of public lands in the eastern United States.
DCNR manages state parks for sound ecosystems; retaining wild character; maintaining biological diversity; providing clean water and healthy habitats for plants and animals; and emphasizing outdoor recreational opportunities.
For all the details, visit DCNR’s Planning for the State Parks of Tomorrow website.
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,  Click Here for upcoming events.  Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community,  Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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