Can you spare a moment to write to your state representative and senator in support of your favorite park or forest? Please do! Suggested text of a letter is available here. Copy and paste it; search for * and you’ll find the places where personalization of the text is needed.
On behalf of the Friends of [*State Park/Forest] I am writing to urge you to support sustainable and adequate funding for operations of our state parks and forests, and for investments in community recreation.
As a volunteer in our state parks and forests, I witness first-hand both the passion Pennsylvanians have for their parks and forests, as well as the needs that exist. I also witness the important role our parks and forests play in supporting surrounding communities. Sadly, HB 218 (the House Budget Bill) would send us backwards as it relates to operating our state lands.
HB 218 severely underfunds the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This loss would deal a blow to a state agency that, research has shown, provides a 1:12.5 return for every dollar invested!
As someone who volunteers regularly at [*State Park/Forest], I understand the impact this underfunding would have to park and forest operations. As a volunteer, I often work alongside the many hard working staff that are dedicated to providing a quality visitor experience.
How might this underfunding impact [*State Park/Forest]? [Choose one or two from the following menu—delete those that don’t apply. Please personalize the issue by indicating how that might impact your park or forest.]
- Severe understaffing in park and forest operations
- Shortened camping seasons, potentially removing shoulder seasons that accommodate anglers and hunters
- Significantly reduced access to overnight accommodations of all kinds
- Significant reduction in wage staff (approximately a 22% cut!), including maintenance, rangers and educators
- Reduced visitor center hours in state parks
- Reduction in ranger patrols in forests and parks
- Elimination of capacity to meet the demand for new or connector trails
- Reduction in routine maintenance, such as lawn mowing, bathroom cleaning, tree trimming
- Increased deferred maintenance, leading to potentially more costs down the road
- Staff shortages for the high risk fire season
- Delays in providing the public timely information regarding drinking wells and groundwater
- Reduced bridge inspections on bridges less than 20 feet in length
- Reduction in dam inspection
- Inability to purchase heavy equipment that maintains roads and fights wildfires
- Emergency radio equipment purchases would be suspended
- Limited staffing in the mineral division to oversee lease transactions, audits, etc.
The current budget bill will impact public services and programs in state parks and forests. With historic staffing cuts in both wage and salary staff, it will be impossible to operate our 121 parks and 2.2 million acres of state forest as the public anticipates, expects, and deserves they will be operated.
I cannot over-emphasize the important role park and forest staff play in the safety, security, and sound operation of our state lands. [*Give example of important role of staff.]
Our parks and forest receive more than 40 million visitors a year. With that comes maintenance needs. If we don’t invest in maintaining our parks, such as [*need at your park or forest], a simple repair could turn into a capital project.
Nothing warms my heart more than watching a family enjoying a day at [*State Park/Forest]. Will you permit a proposal like HB 218 to deny this opportunity for future parents to share parks and forests with their children?
Be sure to include your name and address to demonstrate that you live in the senator/representative’s district. Thank you!