PENFIELD – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn has announced the release of a preliminary report gleaned from results of an extensive two-year survey seeking public input on the future of Pennsylvania’s state parks.
“Commenting on everything from pets in campgrounds to trails and beaches, thousands commented on what they like, dislike and hope to see someday in their state parks,” Dunn said.
“This information shaped recommendations that will help in the creation of a strategic plan to ensure the Pennsylvania state park system remains as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations.”
In response to the release of the preliminary report, the Bureau of State Parks’ Web site now features downloadable information detailing survey findings and includes a public comment tool to address recommendations suggested as a result of this input.
Also, in a continuing attempt to gain public feedback, Parker Dam State Park Complex and other parks across the state will be scheduling public meetings.
A public meeting will be held at Parker Dam State Park office on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m., imediately followed by a Friends of Parker Dam State Park meeting. All interested persons are invited to join.
“As part of an effort to stimulate and encourage public input in this effort, I am requesting all park and park complex managers to schedule public informational meetings before mid-December of this year for Friends Groups, stakeholders, park visitors and the public,” said Bureau of State Parks Director John Hallas.
“This will provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the preliminary report and how to provide comment through the bureau’s Web site.”
Recommendations in this “Penn’s Parks for All” report address:
- Improvement of outdoor recreation opportunities;
- expansion of outdoor recreation oportunities;
- protection of resources from recreation impacts;
- offering of more “active adventure activities;”
- expansion of overnight accomodations;
- protection of parks’ natural and cultural resources;
- parks’ financial support; and
- improved services and facilities.
Presented in the Penn’s Parks for All Preliminary Report (PDF) is a summary of results from the various surveys, along with proposed recommendations to guide the management of Pennsylvania state parks for the next 25 years. To access: www.dcnr.pa.gov; click on “State Parks;” then Penn’s Parks for All.
A series of surveys was conducted by Penn State in 2017 and 2018 to assess the attitudes and opinions of Pennsylvania state park visitors and the public regarding key issues affecting the future of the state parks.
In 2017, 10,186 adults responded online and 4,090 answered surveys at parks. A 2018 statewide telephone effort reached out to 1,650 Pennsylvanians; and an online survey the same year targeted 1,131 Latinos, Asians and African Americans.
Public comment on these survey responses and resultant recommendations will be accepted online and in writing until Dec. 31, 2019. For online participation, visit the Penn’s Parks for All Preliminary Report (PDF).
Address written comments to: PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of State Parks’ Planning Section, P.O. Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551.
Seeking additional information, scheduled stakeholder meetings will be held at state parks throughout the state this fall and early next year. A final report is planned in summer 2020.
It has been 25 years since DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks underwent its last strategic planning effort — StateParks 2000.
That effort guided state park improvements that included the modernization of facilities; expanded environmental education programs; and designated natural areas in order to better protect sensitive or special natural resources.
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.
For state park information, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov.