HARRISBURG, Pa., May 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committees, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn urged lawmakers to consider the crippling impacts the House Republican budget would have on the department and the significant economic returns it provides to commonwealth.
"We are getting ready to welcome close to 2 million visitors for the Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the busy summer season in our state parks and forests, but by the Fourth of July visitors and families will experience shrinking levels of services if the proposed House GOP budget is enacted," Dunn said. "At state parks, those impacts will mean the closure of some swimming pools and campgrounds; reduction in basic maintenance such as bathroom cleaning; loss of environmental education programs; and the elimination of large special events that require lots of staff."
Dunn noted shrinking operations also will mean fewer hours of the day and shorter seasons when park and forest facilities are open, including opening later in the spring, closing sooner in the fall and eliminating seasonal events such as winter festivals.
"In our state forests, cuts to basic services impacted by the House GOP budget proposal will include closed roads in the fall and spring for hunting access; limited staff to fight wildfires; and decrease in the ability to mark timber sales, resulting in less support for the 60,000 forest industry jobs that rely heavily on state forests for raw materials," Dunn said.
Dunn also noted that at funding levels currently proposed by the House GOP, impacts to grant funding and technical assistance would include:
- Smaller, rural communities will be impacted the most if DCNR has to pull back on grant assistance that helps applicants through the process, meaning many won't be competitive or get grants;
- Reduced or no data on private wells, geologic features, seismic information, mapping;
- Elimination of the Pennsylvania trails program or other vital grant programs and technical assistance to communities; and
- Dramatic service reductions in online tool needed by industry and the public related to processing permits and protecting natural diversity.
DCNR is charged with maintaining and protecting 121 state parks, 2.2 million acres of state forest land, conservation of native wild plants, and providing information about the state's ecological and geologic resources. The department also provides information, technical advice to private forest landowners and establishes community conservation partnerships through grants and technical assistance to benefit rivers, trails, greenways, local parks and recreation, heritage regions, open space, and natural areas.
DCNR is urging the chairmen to reconsider the implications of these reductions. The letter can be viewed here.
MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Brady, 717.772.9101
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources