…since the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks underwent its last strategic planning effort, State Parks 2000.
Planning for Pennsylvania’s state parks of tomorrow has begun. Named Penn’s Parks for All, the strategic planning process places a priority on public input and participation – because after all, these 121 state parks, totally nearly 300,000 acres, belong to all of us.
• State parks receive nearly 40 million visits each year: 36.3 million day visits and 1.6 million overnight visits.
• State parks receive 0.16 of one percent of the state’s General Fund budget.
• A state park is located within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian.
The mission of PA’s State Parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. First consideration is given to the conservation and protection of the environment by balancing the potential impacts of recreational activities and facilities with the natural, scenic, aesthetic and historic resources within the parks.
A public survey which closed last fall yielded 14,276 responses that are being analyzed by researchers at Penn State University. 488 state parks staff members completed an on-line survey. Two additional surveys are in the works: a statistically-valid statewide telephone survey and an on-line panel survey targeted to reach young adults and ethnic minorities.
Later this year, a preliminary report will be presented at roundtable public meetings throughout the commonwealth to get feedback and reaction from stakeholder groups and residents.
As we look to the future of state parks, questions to answer (among many others) include:
- What actions should be taken if natural resources within a park are being harmed by over use?
- What changes should be made if the general fund allocation continues to be less than is needed to properly operate and maintain all 121 state parks?
- How important is internet access in parks?
- Should overnight accommodations be enhanced?
- What is the appropriate balance between recreation and conservation of resources?
You can help to craft our state parks strategic plan – Penn’s Parks for All – by attending the future public meetings, reading and commenting on the preliminary report when it’s ready, and promoting the public meeting dates and locations to residents and customers.
We have an amazing, award-winning state park system that we all share. As DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn states, “It’s important to ensure our state park system remains as relevant and valuable to future generations as it has been to current and past generations.”