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Investing in Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests

May 01, 2024 12:00 AM

Man and young girl ride bikes on the paved Lake Loop Trail at Locust Lake State Park

Pennsylvania’s system of state parks and forests contains not only natural areas, but many roads, bridges, and structures -- most of which were built​ more than 50 years ago.

In his first budget, Governor Josh Shapiro​ secured $1​12 million to invest in park and forest infrastructure -- the single largest investment in decades.

All that funding is currently allocated for projects that are in design, bidding, and construction in work overseen by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ​ Bureau of Facility, Design, and Construction​.

Infrastructure investments are necessary to:

  • Safely welcome millions of visitors
  • Comply with modern requirements
  • Ensure our park and forest systems remain national leaders
  • Provide a broad array of outdoor experiences that anchor Pennsylvania’s $17 billion outdoor recreation economy.

“Let’s invest in our entire park system and give the people what they want -- more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with their friends and families,” Governor Shapiro said when introducing his 2023-2024 budget.

Ensure Safety in State Parks and Forests

Man bikes on the paved Lake Loop Trail at Locust Lake State Park
Lake Loop Trail at Locust Lake State Park​ will be repaved

Lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources include thousands of miles of paved and dirt and gravel roads.

The $112 million investment will help to improve and maintain roads and parking areas for safety at a number of state parks:

  • Chapman
  • Evansburg
  • French Creek
  • Gifford Pinchot
  • Little Pine
  • Locust Lake
  • Marsh Creek
  • Mt. Pisgah
  • Ralph Stover
  • Warriors Path

Projects in this category also will address water supplies, including a new well and water treatment plant rehabilitation at Black Moshannon State Park and water tank replacement at Ohiopyle State Park.

Construction also is underway on emergency scour repair (scour occurs when fast-moving water erodes the sediments that surround the base or support structures for bridges, roads, and other man-made buildings) to the Thompson Neely Access Bridge over the canal and some other repairs to address past flooding at Delaware Canal State Park in Bucks County.

Design is also moving for replacing bearing structure on multiple bridges along the Pine Creek Rail Trail in Tiadaghton State Forest in the Pennsylvania Wilds.

Comply with Modern Requirements

Single-story bathhouse with wood and stone exterior sits in the woods
Example of a recently bulit modern showerhouse at Colonel Denning State Park

Typically, campers leave developed areas to spend time outdoors, but they still want amenities.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is making investments in designing modern showerhouses at four state parks with 2023-2024 funding:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Gifford Pinchot
  • Parker Dam
  • Ricketts Glen

Work also will include a plan to replace 20 comfort stations at Moraine State Park in Butler County, and a design for inflatable dam control facilities and placement of stream sensors for Shikellamy State Park in Union and Northumberland counties.

Remain National Leaders

Water fountain shoots water straight up into the air and lit up at night in city
Lights in fountain at night at Point State Park

Pennsylvania state parks and forests are nationally recognized as leaders. Current investments to help maintain that reputation include:

  • Design for the rehabilitation of the lights for the iconic foundation at Point State Park in Pittsburgh

  • Interpretive elements to educate and welcome visitors at a new visitor center at Delaware State Forest in the Poconos

  • A dam removal in Pinchot State Forest in the northeast to help with habitat and biodiversity and avoid the need for maintenance

  • Design to stabilize the Yeatman Mill House at White Clay Creek Preserve in Chester County, which was once the hub of a prosperous milling and agriculture complex during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Old, historic two-story stone building with boarded windows sits among trees
Yeatman Mill House at White Clay Creek Preserve

Anchor Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Economy

Single-story beachhouse sits among trees at Presque Isle State Park
Beachhouse at Presque Isle State Park Beach 11 will be replaced

Public lands and the outdoor recreation opportunities they provide are the foundation for a $17 billion annual outdoor economy in the Commonwealth.

Projects that will help people find opportunities for adventures outdoors include:

  • Design of modern cabin rehabilitation and demolition of compressor building and portions of the ski lift to prepare for new facilities at Denton Hill State Park in the Pennsylvania Wilds

  • Designs to replace Beachhouse 10 and 11 and rehabilitate Beach 6 and 7 areas at Presque Isle State Park in Erie

  • Design recreational infrastructure in the day use area at Hyner Run State Park in the Pennsylvania Wilds

  • Repave the accessible Lake Loop Trail at Locust Lake State Park in Schuylkill County

DCNR has done several things to improve practices and save money in state park and forest operations including energy efficiency measures; roads, bridges, trails, and culverts that can withstand flooding; attracting outside and federal funding for best practices; and encouraging volunteers.

Governor Josh Shapiro is supporting the outdoor recreation economy this year​ by proposing an $8.5 million additional investment that will make Pennsylvania a premier destination for exceptional trail experiences, benefiting the economic competitiveness of communities, tourism, and public health.

Reliable and adequate investments are what it takes to ensure state parks and forests remain as healthy ecosystems and habitat that can be enjoyed by all Pennsylvanians.


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