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Enhance Stewardship and Management of State Park and Forest Lands

The major DCNR accomplishments of 2017 to enhance the stewardship and management of state park and forest lands are listed below.

Forest Management

Forest Conservation and Jobs

DCNR presented Governor Wolf with 15 recommendations to improve forest conservation, jobs, and forest products during October 2016, and has continued to implement these recommendations throughout 2017.

Highlights include:

  • Legislative approval of the Good Neighbor Agreement enabling DCNR to assist the U.S. Forest Service in better managing its Allegheny National Forest
  • A $150,000 grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities to create a new forest conservation easement program
  • The inclusion of forest jobs as part of the new Agricultural and Education curriculum guidelines

State Forest Additions

The Bureau of Forestry added 1,198 acres to its 20-district state forest system. The largest acquisition was the SJC Builders tract, totaling 376 acres in Price Township, Monroe County, Delaware State Forest.

It was acquired with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, who received a grant from the Open Space Institute toward the purchase, making it a good example of collaboration among conservation organizations.

Deer Management

A buck stands in a state forest during hunting season.
Established by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) helps landowners whose lands are impacted by deer over-browsing or who have specific deer management goals that include harvesting additional antlerless deer.

DCNR’s goal is for a healthy deer herd and a healthy forest that can provide a full suite of benefits and values to citizens. The DMAP program allows DCNR to promote forest regeneration by targeting the most vulnerable and severely impacted tracts for additional antlerless deer harvests.

This year DCNR requested 20,736 DMAP coupons for 79 DMAP units, which is an increase from last year when DCNR requested 18,129 coupons for 80 units.

Timber Management

The Bureau of Forestry contracted for the harvesting of approximately 17,262 acres of timber on state forestland during 2017. These contracts have a value of about $22 million in revenue for the commonwealth, and supplied raw materials for an estimated $400 million in private-sector economic activity.

While helping to maintain forest health, the timber harvesting program also:

  • Provides renewable wood products to consumers
  • Supports local jobs and industry
  • Creates early successional forests that benefit wildlife

Lyme Timber Award

DCNR helped facilitate $25.1 million in PENNVEST funds to purchase 33,000 acres of forestland in Cameron, Potter, and McKean counties for:

  • Water quality protection and improvement
  • Sustainable timber management
  • Public recreation

This also included a donated easement of 4,227 acres to DCNR in the Sterling Run watershed of Cameron County.

DCNR regularly works with partners to conserve large tracts of working forestlands, and is looking for innovative ways to do this in the future. The Lyme Timber easement will be one model for conservation easements.

State Park Excellence

Penn’s Parks for All

The Bureau of State Parks launched the “Penn’s Parks for All” initiative to plan for the next generation of state park users. A public survey during 2017 asked Pennsylvanians about:

  • Current and future recreation opportunities
  • Overnight accommodations
  • Modern conveniences
  • Protecting parks
  • Paying for needed maintenance, services, and facilities

Survey results will be analyzed in the coming months, but it is expected more than 14,000 people took the survey either online or in the parks. Additional engagement will take place during early 2018 with results to be included in a full report during fall 2018.

Smoke-Free Beaches

An additional 16 state park beach areas were declared smoke-free during May 2017, effectively making smoking restrictions on beaches a permanent feature at some of the state’s most popular state park lakes.

New state park additions include:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Beltzville
  • Canoe Creek
  • Chapman
  • Greenwood Furnace
  • Hickory Run
  • Little Pine
  • Moraine (Lakeview Beach)
  • Ole Bull
  • Poe Valley
  • Prince Gallitzin (Muskrat Beach)
  • Promised Land (Main Beach)
  • Pymatuning (Jamestown Campground and Linesville beaches)
  • Tobyhanna
  • Tuscarora

More ‘Pet-Friendly’ Camping

Designated pet areas were again expanded with the addition of 61 pet camping sites and six cabins/cottages/yurts.

Of the 56 parks offering camping:

  • 55 now have pet provisions
  • 43 parks offer cabins, cottages, or yurts
  • 19 now offer some form of pet cabin camping
  • ADA pet-friendly cabins have been increased, totaling 11 statewide

State Park Additions

Through donations and purchase, almost 200 acres were added to six state parks across the state.

Denton Hill State Park Master Planning Process

DCNR is moving along in the master planning process to supply recreation at the park in a way that celebrates all four seasons, while preserving the parks skiing legacy.

LaBella Associates submitted a final draft of the master plan during late 2017. Public presentation of the plan will occur during early 2018.

Cherry Springs State Park

DCNR’s master planning team is actively working to evaluate and recommend redesign of the hard and landscape of the park to preserve and enhance the dark sky viewing experience.

Infrastructure Investment

DCNR’s bureaus of Facility Design and Construction, State Parks, and Forestry, facilitate numerous infrastructure and maintenance projects annually, including work on energy efficiency projects, and removal or replacement of some structures such as dams and culverts mentioned under other goals. Major infrastructure projects of 2017 included: 

Restoration of George B. Stevenson Dam

DCNR Secretary Dunn and others stand in front of the restored George B. Stevenson Dam
During late October 2017, state officials gathered at Sinnemahoning State Park to mark restoration of this structure, a high-hazard dam within and operated by the park.

Built in 1955, the dam is part of a comprehensive four-structure initiative designed specifically to control flooding on the West Branch Susquehanna River, and the only one not operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Major work included:

  • Structure and electrical upgrades
  • Realignment of a lake feeder stream
  • Sediment removal and dredging to facilitate lake fishing and boating

Pymatuning Gatehouse Project

During early June 2017, DCNR and state and local elected officials celebrated completion of the comprehensive restoration of Pymatuning Lake’s dam and gatehouse to improve safety and extend the life of an enduring landmark.

The first major project involving the dam since its 1934 construction, work involved:

  • Installation of new sluice gates
  • Restoration of a historic gatehouse to include concrete repairs and new terra cotta tile roof
  • Road paving
  • Stone wall repairs
  • Installation of new piezometers

Focus on Shikellamy State Park’s Inflatable Dam

Two of seven inflatable bags forming the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam on the Susquehanna River were replaced during late summer 2017. The project, also including inspection of, and repairs to, other bags, and construction of a temporary causeway, required an early end to the park’s boating season.

Formed by the dam, Lake Augusta is a 3,000-acre waterway separating Northumberland and Snyder counties that is very popular with area anglers and boaters.