Pennsylvania Unveils Action Plan to Boost Outdoor Recreation, Economy, and Community Wellbeing

outdoors© freemixer / Getty Images Signature / Canva

HARRISBURG, PA — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently released the Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania Conclusions Report and Roadmap for the Future. This comprehensive action plan outlines 50 steps designed to expand the state’s outdoor recreation industry, stimulate economic growth, and enhance community well-being.

Secretary of DCNR, Cindy Adams Dunn, announced the report, emphasizing the office’s proactive approach since its inception by Governor Josh Shapiro in 2023. The governor’s vision was to position Pennsylvania as a national leader in outdoor recreation, and this new roadmap is an important step toward achieving that goal.

The 32-page report, which incorporates feedback from stakeholders, outdoor enthusiasts, and several state departments, outlines a series of strategic efforts that emerged from statewide stakeholder meetings. These include steering funding to outdoor initiatives through policy and planning, organizing the outdoor industry through an alliance and identifying gaps to support businesses, and developing the outdoor workforce by improving compensation, benefits, and working conditions.

The plan also emphasizes the need to communicate the value of outdoor recreation through partnerships with tourism and marketing entities. Furthermore, it underscores the importance of supporting events, programs, and resources that promote diversity and inclusiveness, and address inequity in access to outdoor spaces and activities.

Nathan Reigner, Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation, highlighted the importance of outdoor recreation beyond leisure pursuits. He noted its potential as a vital industry that can rejuvenate communities across the Commonwealth, create entrepreneurial opportunities, attract competitive workers, and improve community wellbeing.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation contributes $16.9 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, supporting 164,344 jobs, and making up 1.8 percent of the Commonwealth’s gross domestic product. Given these figures, the potential economic implications of this new plan are significant.

However, the success of these strategic efforts will depend on effective implementation and sustained commitment from all stakeholders. The roadmap, while comprehensive, is a starting point. Turning its vision into reality will require coordination, collaboration, and continued investment in the state’s outdoor recreation industry.

Nonetheless, this ambitious plan aims to send a clear message about Pennsylvania’s commitment to leveraging its natural resources for economic growth and community well-being. With its focus on inclusivity and equity, it also signals an important shift towards making the benefits of outdoor recreation accessible to all Pennsylvanians. As such, the Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania report represents not just a roadmap for the future, but also a vision of what the state could become: a national leader in outdoor recreation that values and benefits all its residents.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.