Outdoor recreation is a major part of a larger tourism industry that provides jobs, increases awareness of our natural environment and is a necessity for good quality of life. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn invites public input on draft recommendations that will help guide Pennsylvania’s next Outdoor Recreation Plan.
In extending this invitation Dunn added, “This plan allows us to keep a pulse on the latest recreation needs of Pennsylvanians and adapt our strategies and investments to best suit what helps to get people outdoors.”
During the month of October, the public has the opportunity to review and comment on 20 proposed recommendations and nearly 100 action items that have been developed by a Technical Advisory Committee, which has spent the last nine months examining challenges and opportunities around five theme areas for the plan: health and wellness; recreation for all; sustainable systems; technology; and funding and economic development.
Pennsylvania’s five-year Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan is used by state agencies, local governments, and other recreation providers to guide outdoor recreation programs, policies, and projects. Given that NEPA hosts a bounty of outdoor recreation opportunities and locales from Hickory Run State Park to numerous walking paths and rail trails, this plan is an integral part of creating outdoor experiences for citizens of all ages and from all communities.
The federally required plan keeps Pennsylvania eligible for federal Land and Water Conservation funding. Pennsylvania has benefited from more than $178 million in funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund that has supported more than 1,600 projects across the commonwealth over the last 50 years.
DCNR will hold three opportunities for public input through online public webinars on:
- Thursday, October 17, from 10:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.
- Tuesday, October 22, from 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.
- Thursday, October 24, from 12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.M.
All are welcome and encouraged to register for one of the webinars and then take a feedback survey. Registration is available through the Outdoor Recreation Plan web page.
A critical component of the plan is research to determine trends, interests, demographics, and attitudes. Each five-year plan cycle includes an analysis of data from across the state and nation.
In formulating its ideas, the advisory team used data from surveys collected over the past year from outdoor enthusiasts, recreation providers, and the general population of Pennsylvania.
That survey data, as well as the recommendations and the opportunity to comment, are available on the Outdoor Recreation Plan web page. A final draft of the plan will be available for public review in January.
“Porcupine Pat” McKinney is environmental education coordinator for the Schuylkill Conservation District and provides programming for people of all ages with an emphasis on schools, public programming and nature center development. “Porcupine Pat” hails from Marion, Ohio and has a BS with Distinction in Natural Resources – Environmental Interpretation from Ohio State. He is a recipient of the prestigious Sandy Cochran Award for Excellence in Natural Resources Education from the PA Forestry Association, the Schuylkill Pride Award, and the PAEE “Outstanding Environmental Educator Award.”