HARRISBURG — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the release of a preliminary report gleaned from results of an extensive two-year survey seeking public input on the future of Pennsylvania’s state parks.

More than 10,000 respondents offered recommendations how the commonwealth can improve the visitor experience.

“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. “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.”

Presented in DCNR’s Penn’s Parks for All Preliminary Report 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.

The department’s website now features downloadable information detailing survey findings and includes a public comment tool to address recommendations suggested as a result of this input.

Recommendations in DCNR’s “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.

Public comment on these survey responses and resultant recommendations will be accepted online and in writing until Dec. 31.

For online participation, visit the DCNR website. 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.

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 to better protect sensitive or special natural resources.

Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks total almost 300,000 acres.

For state park information, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov.

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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