Monday, September 30, 2019

DCNR Posts Recommendations For Shaping State Parks Over Next 25 Years For Public Comment

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has posted its Penn’s Parks For All - Planning for Pennsylvania’s State Parks of Tomorrow report which makes recommendations for managing and improving state parks over the next 25 years for public comment.
[Note: DCNR is also developing the next update to the Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan which is a separate, broader initiative covering local, regional and state recreation experiences and needs.]
DCNR developed the Plan after two years of collecting and analyzing data from surveys-- including a special ethnicity survey focused on Latio, African American and Asian Pennsylvanians-- as well as interviews and its own research.
Among the issues the Plan addresses are--
-- Operating 121 parks with decreasing resources
-- Threats to park resources, including deteriorating buildings, flooding, visitor overuse
-- Changes in recreation interests
-- Changing population demographics
-- Impacts of climate change on state parks
Survey Findings
The findings in the surveys taken as part of the planning process include--
-- State parks should continue to emphasize healthful outdoor recreation activities
-- Visitors should expect a quiet, natural and/or wild experience
-- 79 percent said resort-style develop was inappropriate for state parks
-- DCNR should designate campground areas for quiet, wild and remote camping experiences
-- DCNR should continue its strategic land acquisition program
-- State parks should invest more resources in volunteer and friends group programs
-- A constraint on visitation to state parks by Blacks was found to be lack of transportation and public transportation access
-- Strong support for increased funding to maintain, repair and improve park facilities without creating new fees or increasing costs to park visitors
Future Directions
Among the recommended future directions for the parks are--
-- Enhance landscape-level partnerships to improve regional recreation, tourist, conservation activities
-- Improve each park’s tail system
-- Enhance water-based recreational offerings consistent with natural aesthetics
-- Improve accessibility for water-based recreation
-- Partner with the health industry in marketing state park activities
-- Add more rental cabins and pet-friendly campsites
-- Renovate campground to enhance natural character, sustainability, safety
-- Reduce energy consumption by 25 percent, set 50 percent renewable energy goal
-- Develop a night sky management program to enhance sky viewing
-- Collaborate with public/private partners to improve local watersheds
-- Improve volunteer programs
-- Expand native habitats
-- Increase professional staff levels by 15 percent to meet legislative mandate
-- Increase employee diversity
-- Ensure funding continues from the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship funds
-- Both DCNR and the PA Parks & Forests Foundation have documented a backlog of $1 billion in maintenance and needed safety and other improvements to recreation facilities in state parks and forests.
A complete copy of the Plan and recommendations as well as other information on public surveys made as part of the planning process are available at DCNR’s Penn’s Parks For All webpage.
DCNR will be accepting comments through December 31.
Click Here to submit comments on the plan recommendations or send them to DCNR Bureau of State Parks, Planning Section, P.O. Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551.
  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.
PA Parks & Forests Foundation Urges MORE Investment, No Backsliding On Parks & Forests Project Funding
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