Save Pennsylvania State Parks

The Pennsylvania Senate’s current budget plan (Senate Bill 850, now in the House as Bill 1416) reduces the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) budget by about $19 million beyond the reductions Governor Edward G. Rendell proposed in February. If enacted, DCNR acting Secretary John Quigley said the Senate proposal will force the agency to close at least 35 state parks and 1,000 miles of state forest roads. The move would would significantly reduce access for anglers, hunters, hikers and bikers.

Quigley noted that the Senate’s proposal would be devastating to many rural areas that count on tourism dollars, and that it would harm DCNR efforts to preserve natural resources for present and future generations.

“In contrast, the Governor’s budget proposal reflects the difficult economy we now face and would still allow us to provide a quality outdoor experience for our citizens and visitors,” Quigley said, also noting that closing 35 state parks would turn away more than 3 million visitors and wipe out at least $57 million in visitor spending on products and services in nearby communities.

Take action by contacting your state legislators and letting them know that you support an equitable review off all state programs, and that state parks and forests are critical to the economic well being of the state and the health of its citizens.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) offers the following “starter letter” that you can personalize and send to your state legislators:

Please Fully Fund State Parks

Dear ,

As a mountain biker, I support strong funding for our state parks. Senate Bill 850 and House Bill 1416 could close between 35 and 50 state parks because of drastic cuts to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources budget.

The list of closures centers disproportionately on the central region of the state, where the state parks are vital to tourism and local businesses. For example, every park that the Wilderness 101 ultra endurance race passes through would be closed. The State Forest system itself would need to close 20 percent of their forest road inventory to meet the proposed budget.

While I appreciate that in these tough economic times we all need to tighten our belts, I believe the Senate’s plan cuts a disproportionate amount from the DCNR budget. The proposal cuts the state park budget by 14 percent and the state forest budget by 30.5 percent (a 17-percent reduction to DCNR overall).

Thank you for considering my comments. I hope you’ll fight for stronger DCNR funding that will allow parks to stay open.

Sincerely,

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