A Message from the Secretary
Looking back over the past year, my first as DCNR’s secretary, I am justifiably proud of our service to the commonwealth and what we accomplished in conservation, recreation, education and so many other resource-related arenas. While 2015 presented its challenges, it was a most rewarding one as well—for both the agency and those it serves.
Fiscal constraints from the state budget impasse were buffered by department staff’s stellar work ethic and commitment. Together they help make our state park and forest system one that other states envy.
A wealth of accomplishments are noted in this annual report. You will see many already moving to address six strategic initiatives that grow from and build on the core work our bureaus and staff perform every day. Drawn from DCNR positions across the state, work teams are addressing outdoor recreation, green infrastructure and sustainability; forest conservation and jobs; water; climate change; and youth engagement.
Together, they will continue guiding DCNR on an engaging, rewarding course—one that in 2015 saw such notable accomplishments as:
- The Bureau of Forestry taking its State Forest Resource Management Plan to the people, hosting 12 public meetings and drawing more than 4,000 responses;
- The Bureau of Recreation and Conservation working in partnerships to implement 164 community recreation and conservation projects, such as the Schuylkill River Trail, which USA Today named Best Urban Trail in the Nation;
- Our state parks and engineering folks working hard to see a fall start of construction at the Laurel Mountain State Park ski area, and skiing and boarding expected to return next season to its slopes;
- The completion of Lackawanna State Park’s swimming pool complex and an expected opening for the 2016 summer season;
- Pennsylvania becoming the “go-to” state when wildfire help is needed elsewhere. The Bureau of Forestry dispatched more than 250 volunteers and several fire engines to Alaska and six Western states;
- The release of a new Explore PA Local Parks website and interactive map, promoting more than 5,600 local parks across the state;
- Acquisition of approximately 25,800 acres of land that enhance, connect, and conserve state forestland. This included the largest acquisition since the 1950s—a 17,000-acre tract in McKean County.
Many additional accomplishments of the department are reflected in this end-of-the-year report.
DCNR is a multi-disciplined agency that manages a magnificent resource and continually interacts on an immense variety of matters with our neighbors, visitors, partners, other agencies, businesses and industry. I know the staff is extremely dedicated to its mission and will continue to do great work.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year!
Cindy Adams Dunn