Across the commonwealth this November, communities are learning about new investments in their local parks, trails, and rivers that will bring opportunities for outdoor recreation closer to home and provide some of the key assets that attract families, businesses, and visitors.
Combined, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is providing about $57 million for 267 projects through its Community Conservation Partnerships Program.
Some examples of projects around the state:
Stoneycreek River, Johnstown
An investment of $225,000 will support the creation of the Inclined Plane Riverfront Park to improve access to the Stonycreek River -- the first riverfront park in Johnstown, Cambria County.
The proposed park will include a boat launch, fishing pier, and walkways.
“We have the bike trail down there now. Tying that in with the inclined plane coming down through there, hopefully, this will lead to people canoeing, boating, those sorts of things in the river,” Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic said. “This is a very good beginning to all of the things we will see coming to the city.”
An investment of $500,000 will support the planting of about 120 acres of streamside forest (riparian) buffers in the Susquehanna River watershed, coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
“We’re especially pleased to be able to put this money on the ground in Lancaster County, where residents have been working hard to make the county’s streams clean and clear, and where there is the largest opportunity for Pennsylvania to make progress on its clean water goals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
The grants are among 27, totaling approximately $2.2 million, from the Environmental Stewardship and Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Funds for rivers conservation.
Projects will include:
- Stream and floodplain restoration
- Conservation plans
- Dam removal
- Two river access points
- Green infrastructure in local parks
- One hundred fifty-nine acres of streamside forest buffers
A complete list of the rivers conservation grants (DOC) is available from the DCNR website.
Knox & Kane Rail Trail
A grant of $400,000 to Rail 66 Country Trail will help with the development of the Knox Kane Rail Trail in Farmington Township, Clarion County. The project will include the creation of approximately eight miles of trail.
“Trails provide a close-to-home connection to nature and recreation that is always free or affordable,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are happy to provide this grant to increase trail miles and expand the outdoor recreation assets that draw visitors to the Pennsylvania Wilds.”
More than $300,000 in state grant funding will be invested for ATV and snowmobile trail development in the Susquehannock State Forest in Potter County.
“I’m very pleased to see the commonwealth investing in these trails, providing both residents and visitors to the area with more opportunities to enjoy all our region has to offer,” Rep. Martin Causer said.
A grant of $262,629 will be used for the development of the Indian Run ATV Connector Trail in West Branch Township. A grant of $44,080 will be used for the development of the Losey Run Snowmobile Trail in Ulysses Township.
The investments are among 37 grants, awarded statewide, totaling approximately $11.2 million, for trail projects including planning, construction, and rehabilitation.
A complete list of the trails grants (DOC) is available from the DCNR website.
Community Parks and Partnerships
Presque Isle State Park
Washington Township, Franklin County, will be the recipient of $129,000 for further improvements to the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park.
“We are happy to assist Washington Township with its efforts to tie together history and outdoor adventures for residents, and to attract visitors to the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park in the South Mountain landscape,” Secretary Dunn said.
The grant will include construction of walkways, a pedestrian bridge, observation deck, and camping area at the park.
The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park is a 125-acre natural, cultural, and historical park that preserves a small portion of Pennsylvania’s second largest Civil War battle.
“The grant money is going to allow us to make this park really something exceptional and really make it a nice place to come and visit and take walks and learn about history,” said Lee Royer, a local historian and park volunteer.
In Erie County, DCNR is providing a total grant amount of $440,500 for five projects, including $100,000 to the Erie Bird Observatory to:
- Coordinate and fund an economic impact analysis of birding in northwest Pennsylvania
- Conduct a bird-based programming and marketing plan
- Fund a feasibility study for a dedicated birding visitor center
“We know that Presque Isle is a destination for visiting birders, so we want to do more research about who these people are, when they come, and how they find out about the location, and try to leverage that interest to develop more amenities for visiting birders at the park,” said Sarah Sargent, the observatory’s executive director.
The grants are supported by the Keystone and the Environmental Stewardship funds. The investments are among 169 grants, awarded statewide, totaling approximately $24.5 million for community park and partnership projects including planning, construction, rehabilitation, and outreach.
A complete list of the community park and partnerships grants (DOC) is available from the DCNR website.
Graffiti Pier, Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, an investment of $1 million will help with the acquisition of about six acres for a new public park.
“This acquisition funding helps the department support the acquisition of land for expansion of community parks, critical wildlife habitat, and for the conservation of open space and natural areas,” said Secretary Dunn.
The grant to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation will help with the purchase of land in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood currently without riverfront access.
Plans for the park include protecting a beloved relic of the city’s industrial past, Pier 18, commonly known as Graffiti Pier, and creating a park that celebrates its historic and cultural significance.
“Being able to acquire six acres really sets up a nice area for public access and the community to come down,” said Joe Forkin, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation president, “in an authorized way.”
A complete list of the 41 land acquisition grants (DOC), awarded statewide, is available from the DCNR website.
The $14.3 million in grants will assist with the conservation of 10,051 acres of open space and natural areas.
Next Round of Grants Opening Soon
Know of a local treasure that could benefit from funding? Local community and conservation leaders are encouraged to apply for funding in 2020.
The 2020 Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant round will open Wednesday, January 15, 2020, and close Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation will be hosting two webinars this winter to assist grant applicants with the application process:
Grant Funding for Recreation and Conservation Projects
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.
This webinar is designed for potential applicants who were not able to attend one of the statewide grant workshops during fall of 2019 or those that would like additional information on DCNR’s grant program for funding for local community-based public recreation and conservation projects.
Participants will receive an overview of the grant program, overview of DCNR’s new grant evaluation systems, eligible types of projects and applicants, matching fund requirements, and strategies on how to create a “ready-to-go” competitive grant application. Learn more about this webinar and register.
Grant Funding for Partnership Projects
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.
This webinar is designed for those interested in obtaining grant funding to support public recreation, conservation, or heritage initiatives across a statewide or regional landscape.
Partnerships program project categories include convening, education, and training; special purpose planning; implementation; and mini-grant programs.
This webinar will provide a general partnerships program overview to include eligible project activities, funding sources, matching requirements, and strategies on how to create a competitive grant application.
Applicants who wish to apply for statewide or regional partnership project grants are strongly encouraged to participate in this webinar. Learn more about this webinar and register.
Learn more about available grants at the DCNR website.