Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forests John Norbeck speaks from Gifford Pinchot State Park Monday, Feb. 14, 2022 (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).
LEWISBERRY, Pa. – As appropriations hearings get underway later this week, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are again highlighting a billion-dollar funding need for infrastructure projects at state parks and forests.
“There’s a lot of need out there,” John Norbeck, DCNR deputy secretary for parks and forestry, said from Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County on Monday.
The need – infrastructure projects, including maintenance, safety and repair projects from across Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks and 20 state forest districts – require a sum totaling $1.4 billion, Norbeck said, echoing DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn’s October 2021 figure.
“Our wonderful network of state parks and forests are facing operating challenges because of critical infrastructure needs,” Norbeck said, adding that safety and infrastructure needs are quickly becoming cause for concern.
“We’re almost at a crisis point,” he told reporters.
With budget talks set to begin in the House Tuesday, Norbeck is hopeful that DCNR’s continued calls for action will be heard, citing a “convergence of understanding” gleaned from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf outlined his proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
In his proposal, Wolf has allocated $900,000 to “state parks infrastructure projects,” according to state budget office documents, and proposed a $450 million infusion to recreation, conservation and preservation programs, such as the Growing Greener Initiative, with money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
According to the department, the last major funding infusion to the Growing Greener II initiative took place in 2005 – nearly two decades ago.
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