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Gov. Corbett unveils more than $200 million investment to improve state parks, forests
Governor Tom Corbett last weekend offered a preview of his 2014-15 budget proposal with an announcement that he is launching Enhance Penn’s Woods, a 2-year, more than $200 million effort to repair and upgrade our natural treasures.

The Governor is directing the pooling of resources and dedicating an additional $45 million dollars toward a comprehensive infrastructure development plan in state parks and forests through fiscal year 2014-15.

“There are so many ways to enjoy Pennsylvania’s great outdoors. With such a variety of unique activities—world class fishing, hunting, hiking and one of my favorites, kayaking—there’s something for everyone in the Keystone State,” Corbett said. “As a strategic investment in our future, we’ll make the largest, short-term investment in state park and forest history to Enhance Penn’s Woods.”

The initiative was unveiled during a tour of the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, where the Governor also purchased his fishing license.

“The hunters, anglers, campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all types not only enjoy our natural treasures in Pennsylvania, but they also spend money in our local communities,” Corbett said. “This short-term investment will make sure we enjoy the long-term benefits of a first class park and forest system such as healthy outdoor recreation, protecting our natural resources and attracting residents, tourists and private investment to communities around the state.”

The Governor was joined for the announcement by DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti; Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway; and families with children who participate in hunting and fishing.

“The vision of great conservation leaders in Pennsylvania’s history has resulted in the system of state parks and forests that Pennsylvanians enjoy and love today,” Ferretti said. “Our modern challenge is caring for our public lands, focusing on improvements for aging facilities; well-managed forests; and high management standards for our award-winning state parks.

“DCNR is grateful for Governor Corbett’s commitment to honor the legacy of our state parks and forests. Our staff works tirelessly each day to protect these resources and ensure our visitors have a meaningful and enjoyable experience. This will allow us to be better stewards of the parks and forested entrusted to us,” Ferretti said.

The department estimates about 200 projects will be covered under the 2-year investment, including:

  • Improvements to some of the most visited and unique parks in the system including a visitor center at Kinzua Bridge State Park, McKean County; new park office at Cook Forest State Park, Clarion County; and completion of the visitor center at Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County;
  • Dam repair at Sinnemahoning State Park, Cameron County; Marsh Creek State Park, Chester County; Chapman State Park, Warren County; Pymatuning State Park, Crawford County; and Gouldsboro State Park, Monroe County;
  • New opportunities for interaction with the public at offices in the Buchanan State Forest, Fulton County, and Gallitzin State Forest, Cambria and Indiana counties;
  • Repairs to fire towers in state forests statewide;
  • Adding 20,000 acres to the state forest system;
  • Twelve campground improvement projects including at Gifford Pinchot, Prince Gallitzin, Hickory Run, Bald Eagle, Parker Dam, Laurel Hill, Hills Creek, Black Moshannon and Caledonia state parks;
  • More than 50 public access improvement projects to roads, bridges and trails; and
  • Seventeen state park drinking water or wastewater system projects.
Enhance Penn’s Woods covers the current fiscal year 2013-14, and fiscal year 2014-15. The additional special allocation of $45 million will be from premiums and interest on Growing Greener II bond funds.

For each fiscal year, the infrastructure design and construction projects are expected to support almost 1,000 jobs in the engineering, architecture, landscape design, construction and other fields.

Pennsylvania has 120 state parks totaling almost 300,000 acres, and 2.2 million acres in 20 state forest districts. Visitors to Pennsylvania state parks generate more than a billion dollars in economic activity in nearby communities annually, supporting almost 13,000 jobs. For more information on state parks and forests, visit here.

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February 5, 2014

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