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A preliminary report gleaned from results of an extensive two-year survey seeking public input on the future of Pennsylvanian’s state parks is now available for public viewing.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians commented on what they like, dislike and hope to someday see in their state parks, according to Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

“Commenting on everything from pets in campgrounds to trails and beaches, thousands commented on what they like, dislike and hope to see someday in their state parks,”

Dunn said comments covered everything from pets in campgrounds to trails and beaches, and about everything in between.

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Creating a Strategic Plan

“This information shaped recommendations that will help in the creation of a strategic plan to ensure the Pennsylvania state park system remains as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations,” she said.

In response to the release of the preliminary report, the Bureau of State Parks’ website now features downloadable information detailing survey findings. It also includes a public comment tool to address recommendations suggested as a result of this input.

In a continuing attempt to gain public feedback, the park system now plans some public meetings. One takes place at Pine Grove State Park at 6 p.m. Nov. 20, at the Ironmasters Mansion, 1212 Pine Grove Road, Gardners, PA 17324.

Similar meetings at state parks across the state are in the works.

“This will provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about the preliminary report and how to provide comment through the bureau’s website,” said Bureau of State Parks Director John Hallas.

Recommendations in this “Penn’s Parks for All” report address:

  • Improvement of outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Protection of resources from recreation impacts
  • Offering of more “active adventure activities”
  • Expansion of overnight accommodations
  • Protection of parks’ natural and cultural resources
  • Parks’ financial support; and improved services and facilities

Survey Results, Proposed Recommendations

Presented in the Penn’s Parks for All Preliminary Report (PDF) is a summary of results from the various surveys, along with proposed recommendations to guide the management of Pennsylvania state parks for the next 25 years.

Penn State conducted a series of surveys in 2017 and 2018 to assess the attitudes and opinions of Pennsylvania state park visitors and the public regarding key issues affecting the future of the state parks. In 2017, 10,186 adults responded online and 4,090 answered surveys at parks.

A 2018 statewide telephone effort reached out to 1,650 Pennsylvanians; and an online survey the same year targeted 1,131 Latinos, Asians and African Americans. Public comment on these survey responses and resultant recommendations will be accepted online and in writing until December 31, 2019.

For online participation, visit the Penn’s Parks for All Preliminary Report (PDF). Address written comments to: PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of State Parks’ Planning Section, P.O. Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551.

Seeking additional information, scheduled stakeholder meetings will be held at state parks throughout the state this fall and early next year. A final report is planned in summer 2020.
It has been 25 years since DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks underwent its last strategic planning effort — StateParks 2000.

That effort guided state park improvements that included the modernization of facilities; expanded environmental education programs; and designated natural areas in order to better protect sensitive or special natural resources.

Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks total almost 300,000 acres. Together with DCNR’s state forest system, they are one of the largest expanses of public lands in the eastern United States.

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