$19.4 Million in Grants to Help Underserved Communities Across Pennsylvania

Harrisburg capitolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently announced an investment of $19.4 million in 68 projects to help underserved and small communities across the Commonwealth with recreation and conservation efforts. These grants are funded from multiple sources, but the largest being the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money appropriated for recreation and conservation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget. This will allow small and distressed communities to apply for the help they need to revitalize their boroughs and towns.

“Having these federal dollars allowed DCNR to reduce the match required, making it possible for small and distressed communities to apply for the help needed to revitalize their boroughs and towns. Our regional advisors put in extra effort to assist,” Dunn said.

The special fall grant round focused on helping underserved communities and supporting an invigorated focus on the outdoor recreation sector, closing trail gaps, and planting trees along streams and in communities.

“Investing in the upkeep and expansion of our recreational areas improves the quality of life for people who live there, and it also helps support the network of businesses related to outdoor recreation and natural places that have a big impact on the state, local, and rural economies,” Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner said.

Pennsylvania has the sixth-largest outdoor recreation economy in the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation adds $14 billion to the Pennsylvania economy. This activity creates 150,000 full-time jobs which earn Pennsylvanians $6.8 billion in wages and salaries.

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Local parks are as diverse as the populations they serve, but they all face similar challenges – access, connectivity, maintenance, staffing, and funding. Applicants were encouraged to submit projects that advanced their local recreation and conservation vision and implemented priorities of the statewide outdoor recreation plan, such as constructing playgrounds, developing internal loop trails, and improving access for people of all abilities and backgrounds.

Projects are funded throughout Pennsylvania, including:

  • Bedford County — Mann Township, $118,200 for improvements to Community Park play equipment, basketball court, walkways, and fencing;
  • Blair County — Altoona, $375,000 for improvements to Garfield Park including loop trails, walkways, parking, and lighting;
  • Philadelphia — $187,500 for the Tacony Boat Launch and living shoreline project;
  • Schuylkill County — Tremont Borough, $276,000 for improvement to Tremont Borough park including new play equipment, a pavilion, and stormwater controls;
  • Statewide — Pennsylvania Environmental Council, $250,000 to develop an Outdoor Recreation Ambassador Program;
  • Statewide — $1.8 million to Heritage Areas for a variety of projects including continued development of PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor’s bicycle tourism program, construction of a boathouse for the historic 1912 electric tour boat of the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, and completion of a master plan for a Dark Sky Program in Cameron County within the Lumber Heritage Region;
  • Union County — East Buffalo Township, $685,700 for acquisition of 79 acres for a new community park; and
  • Westmoreland County — Ligonier Township, $50,000 for a pool feasibility study and master plan for Ligonier Beach.

Visit the DCNR website for a complete list of grants by county.

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The grants are administered by the DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program. The 2023 grant round will open on Tuesday, January 17 and close in April.

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