The 2022-23 budget passed by the Senate and House, with leadership from Governor Tom Wolf, includes a significant new bipartisan investment in conservation, outdoor recreation, clean water, and preservation.
The $696 million of federal recovery funds for these purposes is the largest new investment in several decades.
Three New Pennsylvania State Parks
The budget includes $56 million for three new state parks -- which will take Pennsylvania up to 124 state parks -- a motorized park, and to expand scientific capability around carbon capture and storage.
Having secured the funding, DCNR is now working to finalize these acquisitions to meet the public’s needs for close-to-home, healthy outdoor recreation that became even more apparent during the pandemic.
“Our beautiful state parks are among the finest in the nation,” Governor Wolf tweeted. “I’m proud that we secured funding in this year’s budget to make this investment in our park system.”
Improvements to State Parks and Forests, Community Recreation Funded
There is $100 million to an Outdoor Recreation Program for state park and forest infrastructure, conservation, and recreation projects.
DCNR will have the opportunity to update failing state park and forest infrastructure (dams, water and sewer plants, roads), improve visitor amenities (campsites for RVs, bathrooms, visitor centers), and provide grants to partners for community recreation such as trails, local parks, and river access.
State parks and forests have a documented $1.4 billion of needed infrastructure work. Requests for annual conservation and recreation grants always greatly exceed the dollars available, and the department is working with partners to close the top 10 trail gaps toward a goal of a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvanian.
More Money for Trees, Workforce Development
The $220 million dedicated to a newly created Clean Streams Fund provides about $8.8 million for the Keystone Tree Fund, which will give an additional boost to the streamside forest buffer program and for planting trees in communities to help clean up our waterways and create a more climate resilient landscape.
There also is $320 million to Commonwealth Financing Authority for water, sewer, flood, and high hazard dam projects as many of these projects complement the conservation and resiliency work being done at DCNR.
A two-year extension of the Reemployment Fund will support the important work introducing young people to jobs in conservation through the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps.
DCNR’s total budget of about $673 million allows the agency to continue anchoring Pennsylvania’s growing outdoor recreation economy and provide essential management and visitor services. Importantly, this budget adds 31 staff positions, bolstering efforts for public contact and safety, and climate change adaptation through carbon capture and storage.
This budget provides a lasting legacy for the Wolf Administration and the environment in Pennsylvania.