Governor Tom Wolf on December 5 announced an investment of $44 million for 266 projects across Pennsylvania that will:
- Create new recreational opportunities
- Conserve natural resources
- Help revitalize local communities
“Communities go from good to great when they provide residents and visitors with parks and trails, access to waterways, and opportunities for healthy outdoor activity,” Governor Wolf said. “This $44 million in grants will support communities throughout Pennsylvania working to protect and improve natural amenities for our citizens.”
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined officials from the City of Pittsburgh and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) among about 50 people on a rainy day at an event adjacent to the Hays Woods property in Pittsburgh to mark the announcement.
The URA was approved for an $800,000 grant to assist with the acquisition of the 563-acre property that will eventually be turned over to the city for its second largest park for enjoyment and recreation.
“The URA is excited to play a role in protecting and preserving this important ecological treasure for future generations of Pittsburghers to enjoy,” said URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein.
“You never get to add a park this size to the urban footprint,” Dunn said, adding that she believes Hays Woods is the largest urban park to be created in Pennsylvania in at least 15 years.
“Parks nearby are the places where our kids play; that make our urban neighborhoods beautiful and attractive to homeowners; where we gather to build community; and they help attract the businesses that provide jobs,” Dunn said.
“It’s fantastic to be able to protect a sizable amount of open space in a dense urban area.”
What Do These Projects Look Like?
The grants are administered by DCNR through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program.
Additional investments for the 2017 grants (PDF) include:
- Forty-nine trail projects
- Protecting nearly 8,000 acres of open space
- Nine projects for planting riparian buffers along streams
- Fourteen projects for rivers conservation
- More than 100 projects to develop or rehabilitate recreation, park, and conservation areas and facilities
Adding a Leg to the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails
Greater Hazleton Area Civic Partnership Executive Director Bob Skulsky said in the Hazleton Standard Speaker that a $500,000 grant for the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails is being used as a match for the abandoned mine lands funding to build a leg of the trail to the historic village of Eckley in Luzerne County.
“This funding, coupled with $383,056 of DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Land grant that has already been approved, will be a major part of the funding need to complete this Phase III expansion of the trail,” Skulsky said.
Protecting Watersheds and Enhancing Recreation
State Sen. Gene Yaw noted in a news release that local projects in his district include:
- The renovation of the Nippenose Valley Park in Limestone Township, Lycoming County
- Funding local heritage area initiatives
- Projects planting riparian buffers along the Susquehanna River
“I’m happy the investments approved this week will aid to protect natural amenities and improve recreational activities for our citizens,” Sen. Yaw said. “It’s important that we continue to improve our land and water conservation practices, so that we can enjoy them for years to come.”
Joe Fringuelotti, who sells snowmobiles for North American Warhorse in Dunmore, told WNEP TV that a $400,000 grant for the Red Pine Plantation snowmobile trail in Lackawanna County "…is going to be a big boost, it’s exciting for me because I’m an enthusiast, plus I also sell them. To have another trail system that’s close by is going to just generate, you know, excitement and sales, it`s just another place to go.”
Improving Local Parks
The Altoona Mirror noted that awards in Blair County include $200,000 for Antis Township for improvements to the Bellwood-Antis Community Park. According to Township Manager Lucas Martsolf, this involves the:
- Creation of basketball and volleyball courts
- Creation of stormwater “best management practices”
- Expansion of bicycle and pedestrian paths
“The park is the main nerve center,” Martsolf said.
Lower Makefield Township in Bucks County was awarded a $250,000 grant for further development of Memorial Park.
In announcing the grant, State Rep. Perry Warren said, “Our parks are such a valuable resource in our community, providing space for residents to gather and enjoy healthy recreational activities. This work will greatly enhance Memorial Park, and I’m pleased that the Lower Makefield Township Board of Supervisors pursued the grant opportunity and that the project received support from Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.”
Focus on Heritage Areas
More than $2.36 million also is being provided to Heritage Areas for projects including:
- Advancing river and trail towns
- Closing gaps in Pennsylvanian’s destination trails
- Developing heritage tourism initiatives
- Improving educational and interpretative signage
- Planning and marketing heritage tourism events
More About These Grants
Funding for the grants comes from:
- The Keystone Fund generated through a portion of the real estate transfer tax
- The Environmental Stewardship Fund
- Snowmobile and ATV registration fees
- Several other state and federal sources
Grant applications are accepted once a year in the spring. DCNR provides information about the Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants and a complete list of 2017 grants (PDF).