READING, PA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn recently joined City of Reading and other officials in the release of the new Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and an announcement of DCNR 2020 grants for community parks, small communities, and partnerships.
The plan, Recreation for All, is a blueprint including 20 recommendations and 70 action steps for meeting the outdoor recreation needs of all Pennsylvanians.
Grants announced are the core of DCNR’s municipal investment program, providing for planning and development or rehabilitation of local community parks and recreation facilities.
“Now more than ever, we have experienced the impact of outdoor recreation on our mental and physical wellbeing,” Dunn said. “Pennsylvania’s new outdoor recreation plan serves as a blueprint on how we can make outdoor recreation accessible to every Pennsylvanian.”
In October 2018, DCNR began a more than a year-long public process of developing the state’s outdoor recreation plan, required every five years by the federal government to receive funding.
At last week’s gathering, Dunn released the state’s newest Outdoor Recreation Plan, developed with input of nearly 12,000 Pennsylvanians, including recreation providers, outdoor enthusiasts and the public at large.
“This plan was developed for Pennsylvanians, by Pennsylvanians,” Dunn noted. “Through surveys, research and our technical advisory committee, we developed 20 recommendations and 70 actions steps that can guide investments and programs over the next five years.
While DCNR leads the plan, implementing it is a team effort of other state agencies as well as recreation, conservation and health partners to together tackle challenges and embrace opportunities.”
Guided by a 40-member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the plan’s priorities, recommendations, and actions were finalized before the challenges of COVID-19 and protests around racial injustice, but the framework for state outdoors recreation addresses those and other pressing challenges of today.
Specifically, the plan prioritizes health and wellness and recreation for all, as well as sustainable systems, funding and economic development, and technology.
“It was a remarkable experience to participate in, listen to the conversations, and work to represent the interests and needs of truly all residents of the state and those who visit,” said Todd Pride, managing director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and TAC member. “I commend DCNR’s leadership and team for bringing together all interests of the state and differing viewpoints in developing what will be another award-winning plan. I’m proud to say I’m a resident of ‘Penn’s Woods.’”
The goal of the state outdoor recreation plan is to help all Pennsylvanians achieve greater access and enjoyment from experiences in the commonwealth’s abundance of local and state parks, state and national forests, trails, rivers, lakes, game lands and other recreation spaces.
DCNR is launching a new story map — Recreation for All — that outlines the five priority areas for outdoor recreation in the statewide plan and the key action steps as another tool to engage stakeholders and communities in the work.
Department officials elected to roll out the recreation plan and announce its first round of grants at Reading’s 3rd and Spruce Recreation Center — a facility that has benefitted from a 2019 DCNR grant for rehabilitation and further development.
Dunn announced the city again would benefit from a DCNR investment — as part of its 2020 approved Community Parks, Communities and Partnerships grants.
A $200,000 Keystone grant has been approved for the development of the Reading Skatepark, with a $200,000 match from the Reading Skatepark Association.
Reading’s grant is included on a list of 158 community park and partnership projects across the state receiving a total of approximately $23.4 million.
In the coming weeks, the department will be announcing other grants in phases addressing rivers conservation and riparian buffers; trails; and acquisitions – land trust and community.
More than 400 applications requesting almost $105 million in grant funds were received in April 2020. Through a competitive review process the applications were reviewed, evaluated, scored, and ranked.
The DCNR website includes information about the Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants and the Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation Plan.
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