Gov. Tom Wolf announced the locations for three new parks that he’s adding to the 121-state park system in Pennsylvania. The $45 million investment will create new recreational opportunities to meet the commonwealth’s high demand and conserve nearly 3,500-acres of vital natural and cultural resources. September 27, 2022 – York, PA (Commonwealth Media Services photo).
State officials gathered in York County on Tuesday to share details about three new parks joining the commonwealth’s state park system.
The Wolf administration announced in July that there would be three additions to the commonwealth’s state park system, bringing the total number of state parks from 121 to 124, but at the time, details about the locations of the parks were not yet public.
On Tuesday, state officials said the parks would conserve approximately 3,500 acres located in Chester, Wyoming, and York counties.
Besides providing outdoor recreation access close to large populations, the new #PAStateParks are steeped in cultural history, centered around important water resources and represent fantastic natural resource value. Learn more about the new parks ➡️ https://t.co/3so0XQMJWU. pic.twitter.com/EAIhoHQvUF
— PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (@DCNRnews) September 27, 2022
Gov. Tom Wolf, whose administration has added a total of four parks to the state system during his eight-year tenure, touted the $45 million expansion as the largest in decades.
“I’m proud of that,” Wolf said on Tuesday, adding that out-of-town visitors to Pennsylvania’s state parks will drive local economic development.
“Our state parks system is something that we really take seriously,” Wolf said. “We’re a beautiful state.”
In south-central Pennsylvania’s Hellam Township in York County, 1,100 acres of wooded land will make up the park temporarily dubbed “Susquehanna Riverlands.”
The park was made possible with the acquisition of land along Codorus Creek and the Susquehanna River.
“By working side by side with [the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources] we are creating a conservation landscape that future generations will benefit from,” Phil Wenger, president of Lancaster Conservancy, said of efforts to create the York County park. “Conservation needs both public and private organizations to partner to offset the impact increased development has on water and air quality, as well as ecological decline, to ensure our natural world doesn’t disappear before our eyes.”
“Vosburg Neck” is the temporary name given to the 669-acre tract of land being acquired in Wyoming County to form the second of the new parks.
The park will offer “scenic hiking opportunities, including a climb to an impressive westerly oriented vista, pleasant strolls along a former railroad bed, invigorating shared-use trails, and significant public access for water-based recreation to the North Branch of the Susquehanna River,” according to DCNR.
In southeastern Pennsylvania’s Chester County, 1,712 acres will make up the third park, which has been dubbed “Big Elk Creek.”
The park will follow Big Elk Creek, which served as a “resource corridor for indigenous people for thousands of years and an important area for freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad to the North,” according to DCNR.
“Each new park site is unique in its value to a great system,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “All of the new parks are steeped in cultural pre- and post-Colonial history, centered around important water resources and represent fantastic natural resource value.”
John Hallas, DCNR’s director of state parks, added: “Our parks are the greatest collection of democratizing spaces held in the public trust in the commonwealth.”
In a statement to the Capital-Star, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, said it was “ecstatic” over the creation of the new parks.
“Pennsylvanians from across our commonwealth are already seeing the benefits of the historic bipartisan investments in conservation included in this year’s budget,” Conservation Voters Executive Director Molly Parzen said. “Today’s news will help ensure that more Pennsylvanians of all races and backgrounds can enjoy our commonwealth’s natural beauty even as we preserve open space and protect our environment. And it is an affirmation that the Legislature’s decision to allocate $800 million to conservation will benefit families across Pennsylvania and create good-paying union jobs and strengthen our economy.”
State officials said Tuesday that they expect the new parks to be open to the public by the end of 2026.
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