Enhance Stewardship and Management of State Park and Forest Lands
The major DCNR accomplishments of 2019 to enhance the stewardship and management of state park and forest lands are listed below.
State Park Excellence
Penn’s Parks for All
After releasing a preliminary report in summer 2019, DCNR hosted public meetings at most of its 121 state parks to seek more public input on the initial findings. Final recommendations will be coming later this year. The Bureau of State Parks launched its “Penn’s Parks For All” initiative to plan for the next generation of state park users.
A public survey asked Pennsylvanians about current and future recreation opportunities, overnight accommodations, modern conveniences, protecting parks, and paying for needed maintenance, services and facilities. Responses came from more than 14,000 people took who the survey either online or in the parks between fall and spring 2018.
Improved Customer Service and Efficiency at State Parks
DCNR is making it easier for organized, non-profit groups -- Girl and Boy Scouts, church youth groups, and adult organized groups -- to reserve organized group tenting sites. This process previously required reservations to be made via the call center.
Organizations can now book organized group sites online. The change resulted in an increase in organized group tenting revenue of 17.4 percent; nights occupied by groups increased by 16.4 percent; and reservations by 20.2 percent.
Sunscreen Effort Expanded
In cooperation with the Department of Health, DCNR announced expansion of its free sunscreen program and listed nine state parks where dispensers are now located. The effort reached an estimated 500,000 visitors to state park beaches.
Park Visitation Encouraged
Even in winter, First Day Hikes draw out hikers at our state parks. In 2018, almost 800 people participated; in 2019, a total of 2,949 people participated at 31 state parks throughout the state.
Dual Certification Audit
The DCNR Bureau of Forestry successfully completed its second dual certification audit, attaining continued third-party certification of sustainable forest management under both the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards.
District Management Plans
DCNR updated management plans for each of its 20 forest districts. Public input was gathered though public meetings, surveys, and comments.
The Bureau of Forestry contracted for the harvesting of approximately 10,470 acres of timber on state forest land, providing about $12 million in revenue for the commonwealth. While helping to maintain forest health, the timber harvesting program provides renewable wood products to consumers, supports local jobs and industry, and creates early-successional forests that benefit wildlife.
Good Neighbor Authority Agreement
In 2018, the DCNR Bureau of Forestry entered an agreement with Allegheny National Forest (U.S.D.A. Forest Service) to share resources and cooperate to more efficiently achieve common management objectives.
In 2019, bureau staff assisted the Forest Service by performing ecological inventories on 1,366 acres in Allegheny National Forest.
State Forest Expansion
DCNR added 766 acres to the state forest system in 2019.
Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP)
Established by the Pa. Game Commission, the Deer Management Assistance Programs (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. In 2019, DCNR was granted 29,755 DMAP coupons in 98 units in its continued effort to control the deer population in vulnerable and severely impacted forest tracts.
A total of 24 state parks enrolled in DMAP, totaling more than 100,000 acres; and 16 state forest districts were enrolled, totaling more than 1 million acres.
Expansion of Interactive Hunting Map
The DCNR Bureau of Forestry continues collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to update an interactive, online map that now incorporates State Game Lands.
Invasive Plant Management
DCNR continued its effort to control invasive plants across the state, utilizing state funding and federal grant money. The Bureau of Forestry treated 800 acres of invasive plants in 2019.
Successful Buffer Summit Held
The second DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Summit was held in Harrisburg in February. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy was a critical partner in hosting and organizing the event, which was attended by 250 professionals.
Riparian Buffer Programs
DCNR awarded nearly $2 million in streamside forest buffer grants.
Smokey Turned 75
To help spread the wildfire prevention message, DCNR celebrated Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday in August with a party and educational event, as well as a promotion during the Pirates-Phillies baseball game.
Restoration of Slate Run Road
The DCNR Bureau of Forestry marked completion of the Slate Run Road reconstruction project in Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County, restoring access to this popular recreation area. The road was destroyed during historic flooding in 2018.
Chapman State Park
In mid-August, improvements were dedicated at Chapman State Park in Warren County that included:
Extensive repairs to the dam spillway, embankment and outlet stilling basin;
Dredging and removal of 90,000 cubic yards of sediment;
Installation of fish habitat structures, angler platforms and dry fire hydrants;
Culvert replacement and repaving of roads throughout the park.
Ryerson Station State Park
Work is underway at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County after ground was broken for a new swimming pool complex. The state-of-the-art project, coupled with major park campground renovations, are direct results of public input and participation centering on the future of Ryerson Station.
Caledonia State Park
Caledonia State Park’s Chinquapin Hill Campgrounds in southcentral Pennsylvania dated back almost 60 years. Dedication ceremonies marked completion of the first phase of rehabilitation project and included removal of six shower houses; complete rebuilding of three bathroom facilities; and installation of 18 full-service campsites.
Bald Eagle State Park
The new office and environmental learning center at Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County were dedicated late last year.