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A Message From the Secretary: 2021 in Review

January 12, 2022 12:00 AM
By: DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

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​The year 2021 is in the books and while we faced global challenges, it was a successful year for DCNR laying the foundation for a better commonwealth through health, wellness, education, stewardship of our natural resources, a stronger recreation economy and so much more.

Though we’ve endured the challenges of a pandemic for nearly two years, staff at DCNR have worked exceptionally hard to continue the department’s mission of promoting, protecting, and conserving Pennsylvania’s natural resources. That effort has helped the department be even more welcoming to our visitors to the serene safety of the outdoors.

DCNR continues to build on the increase in interest for nature caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as people turn to the outdoors for exercise, a respite from their daily lives, and to reconnect with nature during these unprecedented times.

During 2021, we celebrated the 50th anniversary Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, its author, former state Sen. Franklin Kury, and the legacy and protection the amendment provides.

There were many accomplishments in 2021 that make me proud of DCNR’s service to the commonwealth and all that we have been able to accomplish during the past year.

Some highlights:

  • I stood with Gov. Tom Wolf to announce “Penn’s Parks for All -- Planning for the State Parks of Tomorrow,” an intensive, statewide effort to seek public input to help guide its national award-winning state park system into the future. More than 14,000 people took a survey either online or in the or in the parks and we held public meetings to seek feedback on the survey’s suggestions and recommendations.
  • Our Bureau of Forestry successfully completed its third prestigious dual certification audit, attaining continued third-party certification of sustainable forest management under both the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards.
  • Our Bureau of Recreation and Conservation was the driving force behind DCNR’s announcements late last year of investments of more than $70 million for more than 300 projects across Pennsylvania. They will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities.
  • Our staff in the Bureau of Facility Design and Construction, long tasked with assuring safety and comfort of our state park and forest visitors, continues to work closely with all other bureaus as they focus on roads and other infrastructure, and energy conservation.
  • DCNR’s Bureau of Geological Survey, with the support of a team of state, federal, private, and academic professionals, has initiated a program to create and maintain complete, modernized, authoritative surface water mapping for Pennsylvania.
  • Our new Nature for All trailhead signs forwarded our efforts to ensure ALL Pennsylvanians and visitors know they are welcome on public lands.
  • DCNR welcomed Nathan Reigner, PhD to the executive team as Pennsylvania’s First Director of Outdoor Recreation. He will help ensure equitable access, investments, conservation, collaboration, and business development to support outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania.
  • Entering its seventh year in 2022, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps mobilized 126 members to complete conservation, health and safety, and visitor-readiness projects at more than 100 park, forest, and community projects.

As Pennsylvanians, we are fortunate to enjoy state park and forest systems that are the envy of many nationally. The commonwealth’s breadth of natural places and outdoor recreation opportunities were highlighted last year as three national conferences – the national associations of state park directors, state foresters, and state outdoor recreation officers -- were held in Pennsylvania.

The many notable accomplishments of 2021 listed below adhere to DCNR’s five strategic goals and reflect its seven strategic initiatives -- youth, recreation, forest conservation, climate, water, sustainability and diversity, equality and inclusion.

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve with the extremely dedicated and talented staff at DCNR.

Best wishes for peace and prosperity in the new year!

Cindy Adams Dunn

Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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