Wednesday, January 26, 2022

DCNR Secretary Outlines 2022 Priorities To Conservation & Natural Resources Advisory Council, Including Need For $1.4 Billion In Infrastructure Improvements

On January 26, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn highlighted the agency‘s 2022 priorities at the first
Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting of the year.

“DCNR has made strategic accomplishments in the first seven years of the Wolf Administration and is intent on building upon that progress in 2022,” Dunn said. “We have seen a tremendous interest in outdoor recreation over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Not only is recreation conservation an important part of life in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but it's essential. 

“People flock to the outdoors in numbers like we haven't seen and we're understanding the essential nature of our work in line with the challenges of climate change, the challenges and opportunities brought to us by the landscape that we manage and the many public service elements that we provide for people like clean water to drink.

“At the core of our priorities is ensuring those new users are a part of our focus going forward. I am eager to work with this advisory council to implement these priorities over the course of this year.”

Infrastructure Needs

“The rapid increase of usage just highlighted the weakness in our funding in park and forest infrastructure.

“You know a lot of facilities were built 50 years ago or more and some of them over a century ago. And, like infrastructure everywhere, it's failing.

“We have unsafe dams out of compliance. We have water systems, sewage systems, old buildings, etc. and we're tackling them as best we can with the funding that we have, but there's clearly a big gap and need there.

“You look at maintaining any infrastructure system you need to make regular investments. 

“And our infrastructure system needs $1.4 billion.  We should be investing about $175 million per year just to maintain it. But, we're not. 

“We're doing about $75 million with the key funds that we have, with the set of funds that we currently have. So we really need to up the game.”

[Note: Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate to allocate $500 million of federal American Rescue Plan funding for recreation, conservation and watershed restoration projects.  Read more here.]

Clean Water

“A key element people need in life is clean water. We used to be called the Department of Forest and Waters. 

“We have a big role to play in water and we're upping our game there, seeking additional funding so that we can plant more forest buffers along the streams and rivers of Pennsylvania. 

“We have a Bureau of Forestry staff working on this and we have our Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Grants program focused on this, and we're seeking steady sources of funding to get [streamside] buffers on the ground.  

2022 Priorities

Highlights from the department’s 2022 priorities include:

-- Demonstrating the critical need for $1.4 billion infrastructure improvements in state parks and forests; developing a long-term sustainable funding source

-- Maximizing on outdoor recreation momentum to retain new uses through implementing existing action plans, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, and leveraging grants to expand access to trails

-- Continuing to address water quality issues through streamside buffers and lawn conversation projects

-- Addressing climate and sustainability issues through strategic planning, green energy initiatives, reducing carbon emissions and carbon capture projects

-- Expanding and funding the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps

-- Nurturing new leaders through the department’s NextGen Council

-- Building on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts to reinforce the message that parks and forests are welcoming to all people

“So much of what we do is influenced by the stakeholders across the Commonwealth working to make a difference in their communities,” Dunn said. “We are grateful for such an active, engaged advisory council that supports our mission, while also helping us improve our strategic initiatives.”

The Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council created by law in 1995 with the formation of DCNR. The advisory council provides a voice to citizens in conservation and stewardship of the Commonwealth’s resources, giving its members opportunities to discuss critical DCNR issues during its bi-monthly meetings.

  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.

Related Articles:

-- DCNR Blog: 2021 Year In Review From DCNR

-- Two Bipartisan Bills Just Sitting In Senate Waiting To Address Recreation, Record Number Of Water Quality Impaired Streams Reported In 2022

-- Witnesses Unanimously Support Allocating American Rescue Plan Funding For On-Farm Conservation Projects At House Committee Meeting; Rep. Metcalfe Calls It ‘Welfare’ 

-- DEP Outlines 2022 Priorities: Make Up Deficit In Oil & Gas Funding; Get Resources Needed To Invest New Federal Mine Reclamation, Oil & Gas Well Plugging Funds

[Posted: January 26, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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