DCNR Conservation Landscape Initiatives Recognized as 'Bright Idea' in Government by Harvard University

Oct 28, 2010, 11:09 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' regional approach to conserving landscapes to create opportunities for economic development was recently recognized by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University's "Bright Ideas Program," Secretary John Quigley said today.

This is the first year for the "Bright Ideas Program," which is designed to recognize and share creative government initiatives across the nation with interested public-sector, nonprofit and academic communities.

"Our Conservation Landscape Initiatives are a strategic approach in large, significant landscapes to help communities protect that sense of place and the natural assets that make them unique," Quigley said. "These communities powerfully connect conservation with community economic development. They are placing their natural assets at the center of their revitalization strategies and are improving the quality of life of their citizens and attracting new businesses and positioning their communities for sustainable growth.  

"We have had many successes on the ground in the seven regions where we are working, and we are proud to be recognized through the 'Bright Ideas Program' as a national model for this type of collaborative work," Quigley added.

Known informally as CLI, the initiative's seven regions include the north-central Pennsylvania Wilds; Pocono Forests and Waters; Lehigh Valley Greenways; Schuylkill Highlands in the southeast; South Mountain in the south-central part of the state; Lower Susquehanna; and the Laurel Highlands in the southwest.  

The DCNR landscape approach involves working collaboratively with communities and partners such as park managers, foresters and grant makers on issues like land conservation for community parks and trails, greenways, trails, habitat protection, forest fragmentation and sustainable development.

The collaboration help communities protect the places they value, which shapes their revitalization strategies to take advantage of those natural assets.

"Understanding that measurement and evaluation are critical learning tools, more than a year ago we undertook a pair of studies to determine if the CLI approach is effective and how it could be made better," Quigley added. "The evaluation shows us that CLIs do work—that strong partnerships, strategic grant-making, and more meaningful engagement with citizens do pay off, creating more vibrant communities and increased opportunities for Pennsylvanians and visitors to connect with the outdoors."

As a specific example, in the Pennsylvania Wilds region, local governments have become champions for the work, particularly around land use planning.

Tourism and economic development have increased in the region in comparison to other areas of the state. Overnight leisure travel and visitor spending increased from 2003 to 2007.  Tourism related employment earning and tax revenues also increased over state averages since the CLI began in the Pennsylvania Wilds.  

While each of the seven designated CLIs has a unique focus and is tailored to the special features and culture of the landscape they all share these core principles: locally-driven planning; land conservation; community revitalization; and civic engagement.

For more information about the "Bright Ideas Program," visit www.ash.harvard.edu and click on "Innovations in Government" under the "Programs" tab. Then look for the "Bright Ideas" logo.

For more information about DCNR's landscape approach visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us and choose "Conservation Landscape Initiatives" under "Quick Links."

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources