Thursday, June 25, 2020

DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanians: John C. Oliver, First Secretary Of DCNR

John C. Oliver was appointed the first secretary of the newly created Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1995. His passion for the natural world has fueled a lifelong career of land and water conservation.
Before leading the first ranks of DCNR, John served as president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and was chief executive officer of their land management operations.

During that time, he worked passionately to preserve and protect our state’s most valued assets, including essential conservation projects on the Clarion River and the Allegheny National Forest.

In July of 1995, then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge nominated John to be the first secretary of DCNR, created just five days earlier.

On July 1, 1995, a bill was signed into law restructuring the former Department of Environmental Resources into two cabinet-level agencies: Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

Under his leadership, tens of thousands of acres of land were protected by the state park and forest systems.

He also began the effort to bring FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] certification to Pennsylvania’s state forests, which are now dual certified and a living example of sustainable forestry practices.

John has had an appreciation of the natural world ever since he was a child learning how to hunt and fish in western Pennsylvania.

His grandfather was a strip mine owner and operator during a time when land reclamation was not required.

He felt strongly about replanting the land he mined, and John worked for him in that effort.

The reforestation was successful, and this area is now Hillman State Park, named for John’s grandfather.

Throughout his career, John says he has not seen any significant change in conservation work, and he says that is a good thing.

The constant drumbeat of outreach and boots-on-the-ground projects are what make conservation of natural resources possible.

“I do not see much of a change, and I’m very grateful for that. I think land and conservation is alive and well with the same dedication and enthusiasm as in the past,” he says. “There is still a tremendous need for high-quality, outdoor recreation opportunities, and protection of significant natural areas. Both DCNR and the stakeholders they engage are doing very well to serve that purpose.”

John currently serves as mayor of Sewickley Heights in Allegheny County, and keeps extra busy with consultation work and tree farming.

John loves to spend time outdoors, and especially enjoys hunting, fishing, birding, biking, and canoeing.

Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending an email to:  to nominate someone.

  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 Conservation History

[For more on Pennsylvania’s conservation history, visit the PA Conservation Heritage Project website.]

(Reprinted from the June 24 DCNR Resource newsletter.  Click Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Related Article - History:

-- DCNR Blog: The Department Of Conservation & Natural Resources At A Quarter Of A Century

-- June, 1995 Op-Ed: Meeting The Need - Restructuring DER - 4 Former DER Secretaries

--Feature: Looking Back To Improve Pennsylvania’s Environment Going Forward

--20 Years Of Growing Greener: A Celebration Of Leadership, Partnership, Accomplishment

--1995-2002 - Environmental Accomplishments Of The Ridge & Schweiker Administrations

--1995-2002: Awards And Recognition For Environmental Programs During The Ridge & Schweiker Administrations

Related Articles - Parks & Forests:

--PA Parks & Forests Foundation Launches New Protect Our Parks And Forests Website

--House Republicans Moving Bill To Reallocate Keystone Fund, Damage Vitality Of PA’s Outdoor Economy

--House Republicans Pass Bill To Freeze Funding For County Conservation Districts, Local Parks, Farm Conservation, Watershed Restoration Projects; Will Hurt Local Economies

-- New PEC Podcast: Fmr Gov. Tom Ridge On Conservatives Being Out Of Touch On The Environment

-- Op-Ed:My Fellow Conservatives Are Out Of Touch On The Environment - Fmr. Gov. Tom Ridge

[Posted: June 25, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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