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Ensure the Future of Conservation

The major DCNR accomplishments of 2019 to ensure the future of conservation are listed below.

Attract Youth

Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps

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Created in 2016 with cooperation of the Department of Labor and Industry, the corps addresses a backlog of state park and forest improvement projects while instilling a sense of conservation and outdoors-oriented career options within young people.

Entering its fifth year in 2020 under leadership of Manager Michael D. Piaskowski, the program mobilized 246 members to complete conservation, health and safety, and visitor-readiness projects at more than 95 parks, forests and communities.

Corps members invested more than 100,000 hours of service while learning about natural resources and gaining valuable on the job training.

A total of 15 crews worked last year from host locations in:

  • Erie
  • Meadville
  • Pittsburgh
  • Greensburg
  • Uniontown
  • Altoona
  • St. Marys
  • Renovo
  • McConnellsburg
  • Williamsport
  • Harrisburg
  • York
  • Reading
  • Wilkes-Barre
  • Philadelphia

This year the program was expanded to Include a “roving” crew that was dispatched throughout the state.

In 2019, crews completed:

  • 588 structure repairs
  • 10 miles of waterway and shoreline improvement
  • 192 miles of trail creation or repair
  • Planting 3,197 trees
  • Collection of 5,264 data points during community tree inventories and lake sediment depth studies

Outdoor Programming Services/Youth Engagement

More than 425,000 people participated in state park educational programs, including 58,000 who learned outdoor recreational skills such as archery, kayaking, snowshoeing, and geocaching.

State parks offered 123 teacher workshops on songbirds, watersheds, hiking, connecting preschoolers to nature, Project Learning Tree, Project Wild, Project WET, stand-up paddle-boarding, and climate change and provided 4,298 programs for 142,300 school students.

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

Charting Strategy Based on Science

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Heavy rainfall, flooding, damage to state park and state forest infrastructure -- all accompanying a continued warming of our climate.

DCNR continues efforts to address these and other impacts of climate change:

  • A new position, Director of Applied Climate Science, was added to DCNR’s executive staff to direct implementation of the department’s climate change adaptation and mitigation plan and integrate the latest scientific findings into state park and forest operations. Director Greg Czarnecki now oversees development of climate change staff training and works with stakeholders and partner organizations to ensure DCNR remains at the forefront of helping to address the challenges of climate change.
  • The Bureau of Forestry is evaluating forest management practices that increase forest carbon sequestration while also increasing forest health and resilience. They are doing this in partnership with Maryland’s forestry division and the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands initiative.
  • DCNR formed an interagency carbon capture, utilization, and storage committee that is examining potential for sequestering atmospheric carbon in deep geologic formations within the commonwealth.
  • The department conducted an internal survey to assess staff opinions, concerns, and knowledge of climate change. More than 300 people responded. In addition to providing feedback on training and information needs, the results indicated most DCNR staffers are seeing the impacts of climate change in their daily work; discussing it amongst themselves and with DCNR constituents; and would like to be better educated so they can do something about it.
  • Each of DCNR’s bureaus are implementing climate change adaptation strategies that were identified in the department’s adaptation plan. This includes conducting climate vulnerability analyses at select state parks and state forests, and considering climate change projections and impacts in all infrastructure projects -- from building and trail construction to dams and bridges.
  • The department’s natural heritage program completed a climate change connectivity analysis that identifies and prioritizes an interconnected system of core habitats and connectors that will facilitate the movement of species as they migrate to the north and higher elevations due to climate change.
  • Educating the public about climate change continues to be a departmental priority. The Director of Applied Climate Science gave presentations to NGOs, universities, and landowners reaching nearly 600 commonwealth residents. The Bureau of State Parks presented 297 climate change programs with more than 7,200 participants.

In addition, DCNR launched an inter-agency work group with DEP and DCED colleagues to develop and implement a plan to support carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) in Pennsylvania, using the existing research of BGS as a technical foundation and the 45Q tax credit as a financial incentive. 

Very few scenarios achieve the 2-degree climate mitigation goal without carbon capture and storage, so the coordination of technical, regulatory, economic and policy efforts in this regard will be vital to Pennsylvania’s success in the climate mitigation arena.

In early October 2019, DCNR received a Climate Adaptation Leadership Award from the national Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The award recognizes exemplary leadership by individuals, agencies, businesses, and other organizations to reduce impacts and advance adaptation of the nation’s vital natural resources and the many people who depend on them in a changing world.