On September 6, 2022, Pennsylvania launched a historic investment of $90 million for more than 330 projects across that state that are designed to revitalize communities by enhancing their recreation economies and restoring natural resources.
The $90 million grant round is the largest single investment in Pennsylvania recreation and conservation in Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) history, surpassing the previous record of $70 million in 2021.
“The health and vitality of our communities is reflected in the quality of parks and trails, access to rivers, open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said at the announcement event in Clark Nature Preserve in Pequea, Lancaster County.
“This grant round is historic, as it is the largest amount we ever issued to help protect and enhance our natural amenities throughout Pennsylvania,” she added.
Under the administration of Governor Tom Wolf, DCNR has awarded more than $430 million in grants to more than 2300 projects across the commonwealth.
“Pennsylvania encompasses some of the most beautiful natural areas in the nation,” Governor Wolf said.
“By investing in the upkeep and expansion of our recreational areas, we are not only improving the quality of life for citizens. We are making Pennsylvania an even better destination for visitors who will contribute to the economic health of communities all across the commonwealth,” he added.
Lancaster Conservancy is receiving a $318,000 grant for a one-mile accessible loop trail and accessible parking lot and trailhead for people of all abilities at Clark Nature Preserve.
Dunn was joined by Lancaster Conservancy CEO Phil Wenger, and other state and local officials.
“The Clark Nature Preserve, jutting out on the Lower Susquehanna River, is a remarkable property with varied geography and unique geology including cold Wind Caves and the amazing viewing platform called House Rock,” Wenger said.
“The Conservancy Board made a decision to build a new universal access trail on this site to improve access for all. We find many of our older and physically disabled visitors highly value the ability to access our meadows, forests and views, immersing themselves in the benefits nature provides. The trail will allow our Clark Nature Preserve to be accessible and welcoming to everyone,” he continued.
Investments are being made in a variety of proposals, including: 43 trail projects; protecting nearly 7,207 acres of open space; 20 projects for rivers conservation; planting 214 acres of streamside forest buffers including 47 that are multifunctional with the possibility of producing a harvestable profit for the landowner; and 141 projects to develop or rehabilitate recreation, park and conservation areas and facilities.
“Many of the projects being funded – improvements to local parks, trails, and river access – bring these amenities closer to home, requiring less driving and expense to experience,” Dunn said.
“This $90 million investment will leverage more than $100 million in local, county and private investments, giving every state dollar more power for the public good,” she concluded.
Projects funded throughout Pennsylvania include:
- Rehabilitation and development of multi-purpose and basketball courts, inclusive play equipment, and walkways in Huidekoper Park, Meadville, Crawford County;
- Construction of 1.5 miles of the Ghost Town Trail to help complete a 32-mile loop rail trail in Indiana and Cambria counties;
- Acquisition of about 916 acres of the Camp Tuckahoe Boy Scout Camp in York and Cumberland counties;
- Water access will be improved in five locations in Allegheny, Cambria, Erie, and Fayette counties;
- Development of 32 loop trails and 15 pickleball courts;
- Support for the Friends of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia to implement a pilot project center on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in nature and outdoor recreation; and
- About $300,000 that will support Southern Alleghenies and North Central PA planning commissions for mini-grant programs targeting high need rural areas.
The grants are administered by the DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2). Funding comes from the Keystone Fund, which is generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax; the Environmental Stewardship Fund; the ATV/Snowmobile Fund generated through fees for licenses; and federal monies.
Gov. Wolf also announced an unprecedented additional 2022 fall grant round, which was made possible in part from appropriated funds in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget. That same support also secured funding for the creation of three new state parks to be announced this fall.
“This special fall grant round was made possible thanks to the bipartisan investment in conservation and outdoor recreation we secured in the recent commonwealth budget,” Governor Wolf explained. “These additional funds will help us support even more local park, trail, water quality, and landscape projects across Pennsylvania.”
The C2P2 special fall grant opportunity will highlight helping underserved communities, closing trail gaps, supporting an invigorated focus on the outdoor recreation sector, and planting trees along streams and in communities. The deadline to submit applications for the fall grant round is Oct. 27.
For the supplemental fall grant round there is a lower match requirement for municipalities with populations under 5,000 people. For these communities, match is only 20% of the grant amount with no cap on project size. This lower match requirement makes the fall funding round an ideal opportunity for smaller municipalities to apply for grants.
The special fall funding round is also an ideal time to apply for tree planting, lawn conversion, and streamside buffer grants. The round includes more than $8 million in Keystone Tree Fund money and other funds to support watershed and community forestry practices.
Photo of Clark Nature Preserve is courtesy of Lancaster County / Dustin Underkoffler.