I know 2018 will go down as a most memorable year for DCNR, one marked by steadfast commitment of its employees to preserve and protect, while they embrace new programs designed to enhance and safeguard the natural world around us.
It also was a year marked by seemingly non-stop rains and flooding that kept our people scrambling.
The start of my fifth year as secretary has only heightened my awareness of the wealth of stunning state parks, forests, mountains, rivers, and trails with which we are blessed.
We are the keepers of what I have described as our “common wealth,” that is, our constitutional right to have and enjoy these spectacular assets.
To protect them, and share with all state residents, we must always prepare for the future. Three accomplishments in particular stood out in 2018 with the future in mind:
- Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps: Hailed by private and public sectors alike, this initiative, putting young people to work in our state parks and forests, is getting bigger and better as it enters its fourth year! A total of 227 Pennsylvania youth tackled almost 2,600 projects across the state, all the while honing a respect for the natural world around them.
- Climate Change: This past year brought historic flooding and rainfall to our state -- a trend that’s predicted to continue as our climate warms. As part of our continuing efforts to address this and other impacts of climate change, DCNR published and is moving on a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan.
- Sustainability in Parks and Forests: Dovetailing with above efforts, DCNR is reducing its energy consumption through reliance on solar units to power buildings and certain systems, such as sewage treatment, at state park and state forest buildings. We have already completed 13 total solar installations and introduced nine electric vehicle charging stations at state parks and forests.
There were many other accomplishments -- too varied to prioritize -- but grouped together, they are the reasons I am so proud of DCNR’s service to the commonwealth and all that we have been able to achieve.
- Our Bureau of State Parks continues to analyze survey results of its “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 the survey either online or in the parks between fall and spring 2018. Watch for a preliminary report and series of public meetings to share initial findings in 2019.
- Our Bureau of Forestry updated management plans for each of the 20 forest districts. Public input was gathered via an intense slate of public meetings, surveys, and comments.
- Our Bureau of Recreation and Conservation was the driving force behind DCNR’s announcement late last year that an investment of $50 million for 280 projects across Pennsylvania will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities. Working with our local trail partners last year, we also closed two major trail gaps.
- Our staff in the Bureau of Facility Design and Construction, long tasked with assuring safety and comfort of our state park and forest visitors, are focused on energy efficiency with promotion of energy efficient buildings, landscapes, and designs, including green certification programs.
- DCNR’s Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey was the lead agency in aggregating $2.1M from state agencies, and $1.2M in federal funds to acquire new lidar data for 22 Pennsylvania counties. The high-resolution, elevation data will be used for flood management, natural resource management and conservation, land use planning, geologic mapping and hazard reduction, and infrastructure development. Data will be collected this year.
During the past four years, DCNR’s six strategic initiatives -- youth, recreation, forest conservation, climate, water, and sustainability -- have made great strides as they grow from, and build on, the core work our bureaus and staff perform every day.
I join staff in taking pride in some of the notable accomplishments of 2018 listed in the framework below:
I have no doubt 2019 will continue to be marked by outstanding DCNR employee efforts and continued valuable interaction with our neighbors, visitors, and partners.
Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and rewarding new year!
Cindy Adams Dunn
Secretary, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources