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​Governor Shapiro’s Budget Supports Park and Forest Trails, Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps

February 07, 2024 12:00 AM

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​Governor Josh Shapiro presented his 2024-2025 budget proposal on February 6 -- sharing his ‘get stuff done’ approach and vision to create more opportunity and continue delivering real solutions to the most pressing issues Pennsylvanians face.

“This year, we have a ​real chance to build safer communities, become more competitive economically, and invest in our students and their success -- and this budget lays out a comprehensive and aggressive focus on doing just that without raising taxes and maintaining a surplus of $11 billion at the end of June 2025,” said Governor Josh Shapiro.

The Governor noted the budget will continue to create opportunity for every Pennsylvanian with historic investments in economic development, education, healthier and safer communities, and much more.

Gov  Shapiro leans against wooden podium in outdoor classroom with a group of peoplelistening to DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

As he promised in his first budget proposal, Governor Josh Shapiro launched the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2023 to make Pennsylvania the national leader in outdoor recreation.

Last year’s budget also provided $112 million to maintain and improve infrastructure in parks and forests -- the single largest investment in decades.

This year, the proposal includes another strong investment in the stewardship of Pennsylvania’s natural resources, with new funding to build trails and expand the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps program.

Build and Maintain Trails

A footpath leads through the woods past a tree with a yellow blaze. A wooden sign reads: Buck Ridge

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

The budget as proposed would enable the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to:

  • Design and construct new trails in parks and forests
  • Retrofit, widen, and otherwise improve existing trails
  • Prepare to respond to damage that currently cannot be quickly addressed when emergencies occur

“PEC is pleased to see the Governor recognize the many economic benefits of trails and outdoor recreation assets,” said Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) President Thomas Gilbert. “We look forward to a sustained and serious conversation about investing in resources that return so much to our communities -- not only in jobs and economic activity, but in benefits to our health and quality of life.”

Growing the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps

A group of people stand outdoors while two people shake hands.

To improve public lands, the proposed budget builds on the success of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps with a $5 million investment in a regional effort to diversify and strengthen conservation career and workforce pathways for young people and protect our natural resources.

In 2023 alone, the Outdoor Corps:

  • Improved 91 miles of trails
  • Planted 2,894 trees 
  • Improved 512 acres of natural lands and wetlands
  • Improved 79,579 feet of shore and waterways
  • Provided a formative and rewarding experience for participants

Outdoor Recreation Economy

A large amount of kayaks and canoes sit in a group around a park sign. A river is in the background lined with trees and houses.

The Governor’s 2024-2025 budget also calls for significant investments directly tied back to a recently released Pennsylvania Economic Development Strategy.

Outdoor recreation adds $17 billion to the Pennsylvania economy and creates 164,000 jobs which earn Pennsylvanians $8 billion in wages and salaries.

The Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania (PDF) report will guide the work of the Office of Outdoor Recreation and includes more than 50 actions to assist with the larger strategic priorities of building capacity within Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry, building community and economic development capacity, and building the capacity for inclusive and equitable wellbeing for Pennsylvania.

Overall, the proposed 2024-2025 Commonwealth budget includes $630.5 million for DCNR across all funding sources.

The General Assembly now works to pass a budget bill that will go to Governor Shapiro to sign.

DCNR’s House Appropriation hearing is Wednesday, February 28, at 1:00 P.M.

Find more information about Governor Shapiro’s budget on the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget website or watch his budget address​.

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