Camp Hill, PA –The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), the only non-profit whose mission is Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests received a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support the evaluation and improvement of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Conservation Landscape Program and engage 36 young people in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps Program.
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps offers young people the opportunity to serve on a team completing conservation projects to protect, enhance and restore Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. Members gain work experience, job training and environmental education to help them become life-long stewards of our natural resources. The program targets underserved communities, both rural and urban, to increase interest and diversity among those pursuing conservation careers. Through this grant, the Corps members will rebuild or re-route five miles of trail, restore 25 acres of habitat, remove 25 acres of invasive species, restore and improve four Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) cabins, construct three Adirondack shelters, and re-establish seven miles of boundary along a state park. The crews will work out of Uniontown, Meadville and St. Marys.
“Pennsylvania’s Outdoor Corps is a unique partnership with Department of Labor and Industry aimed at training the next generation of conservation leaders to thrive,” said Mike Piaskowski, Manager of the PA Outdoor Corps. “Hands on public works projects combined with environmental education and career development activities position Corps members to compete in today’s job market, while nurturing life-long commitment to the stewardship of our natural resources. Funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation enriches the Corps’ experience by allowing them to improve the resiliency of our public lands, increase tourism readiness and to pay homage to our conservation heritage.”
The Conservation Landscape Program is seven multi-county regions working together to drive strategic investment and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects. The focus is on delivering the benefits of community revitalization and resource conservation by utilizing the principles of locally driven planning, natural resource conservation, community renewal, and civic engagement. The grant will allow PPFF, working with a consultant, to assess the impact of this effort by looking at some of the programs accomplishments, identifying successful practices, and making recommendations for the future.
“Investing in our state parks and forests is an important way to support the economy of the state while also providing opportunities to improve human and environmental health,” said Marci Mowery, President of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. “While at first glance these two programs may seem unrelated, they both offer a means to improve the quality of life for all residents.”