DCNR observes 25 years of conservation and management of natural resources.
DCNR observes 25 years of conservation and management of natural resources.
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
June 24, 2020
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
DCNR 25th Anniversary logo
DCNR at a Quarter of a Century
Twenty-five years ago this July, a new agency was born -- the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
On July 1, 1995, Governor Tom Ridge signed a bill into law that restructured the Department of Environmental Resources into two cabinet-level agencies -- Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
“Although we had a long history of stewardship through our bureaus, the move made conservation and management of our natural resources a priority; and recognized the importance of our parks and forests to quality of life, tourism, and our economy,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn noted today. Read more...
People in kayaks paddle down a river
Lackawanna River Honored as Pennsylvania’s 2020 River of the Year
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Lackawanna River Conservation Association (LRCA) and other local officials in marking June as Rivers Month; and honoring the Lackawanna River as Pennsylvania’s 2020 River of the Year.
A vibrant, cold-water “Class A” fishery in its middle and upper reaches; and a waterway that attracts more paddlers every year, the Lackawanna River flows 60 miles through Susquehanna, Wayne, Lackawanna, and Luzerne counties before joining the Susquehanna River.
Since 1987, LRCA has worked with other community groups and public agencies to plan and promote projects addressing water pollution, recreation, community development, land and water conservation, public involvement, and public policy decision-making that affects the river and its watershed.
“During these trying times we have seen a tremendous spike in newcomers trying kayaking, canoeing, and other pursuits,” Dunn said, “and I commend the Lackawanna River Conservation Association and all it has done to encourage safety and social distancing among those now enjoying the Lackawanna.” Read more
Fireflies light up in the grass at night
DCNR Encourages Celebration and Conservation of Fireflies
Fireflies are one of our most celebrated insects -- even earning the title of Pennsylvania’s state insect. We look forward to their arrival every summer.
They play an important role in natural ecosystems, but also have a significant cultural, biological, and economic value.
Yet, despite their popularity, firefly populations are in decline. Many researchers blame two main factors: development and light pollution.
To celebrate the arrival of summer, DCNR published a blog about fireflies and what we can do to help them. Read more
Tarah Brugger stands in front of a lake
DCNR Names New Manager at Promised Land State Park
DCNR announced that Tarah Brugger has been appointed as manager of Promised Land State Park in Pike County.
Formerly the manager at Tuscarora State Park, Brugger will oversee Promised Land’s 2,970 acres and two large lakes, which draw more than 500,000 visitors annually.
“Personable and outgoing, Tarah began her Bureau of State Parks career 11 years ago as a ranger in the southeast; and honed her administrative and public relations skills in a variety of positions and locations,” said Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
“I am excited to take over at Promised Land State Park,” Brugger said. “I feel like it is one of the more beloved and iconic parks of the Poconos.” Read more
Corey Snyder stands next to the Linn Run State Park sign
DCNR Names New Manager at Linn Run State Park Complex
DCNR also announced the appointment of Corey J. Snyder as manager of the Linn Run State Park Complex, based in Westmoreland County.
“Coming from a heavily visited state park in the southeast, Corey is a skilled administrator whose qualifications and public relations background were valued highly in his past assignment,” said Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “His leadership can only enhance what visitors now find at the three state parks comprising the Linn Run State Park Complex.
Named for the high-quality trout stream, Linn Run, the park offers scenic, wooded areas for picnicking, hiking, and cabin rentals. Forbes State Forest borders the park, offering 50,000 acres for outdoor recreation.
“While I’m ready and eager to get started, I’m also extremely grateful and humbled by those who have helped me along the way. I thank them for their patience, understanding and time,” Snyder said. Read more
John C Oliver III
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
John C. Oliver was appointed the first secretary of the newly created Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1995. His passion for the natural world has fueled a lifelong career of land and water conservation.
Before leading the first ranks of DCNR, John served as president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and was chief executive officer of their land management operations.
During that time, he worked passionately to preserve and protect our state’s most valued assets, including essential conservation projects on the Clarion River and the Allegheny National Forest.
In July of 1995, then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge nominated John to be the first secretary of DCNR, created just five days earlier.
On July 1, 1995, a bill was signed into law restructuring the former Department of Environmental Resources into two cabinet-level agencies: Conservation and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
Under his leadership, tens of thousands of acres of land were protected by the state park and forest systems.
He also began the effort to bring FSC certification to Pennsylvania’s state forests, which are now dual certified and a living example of sustainable forestry practices.
John has had an appreciation of the natural world ever since he was a child learning how to hunt and fish in western Pennsylvania.
His grandfather was a strip mine owner and operator during a time when land reclamation was not required.
He felt strongly about replanting the land he mined, and John worked for him in that effort.
The reforestation was successful, and this area is now Hillman State Park, named for John’s grandfather.
Throughout his career, John says he has not seen any significant change in conservation work, and he says that is a good thing.
The constant drumbeat of outreach and boots-on-the-ground projects are what make conservation of natural resources possible.
“I do not see much of a change, and I’m very grateful for that. I think land and conservation is alive and well with the same dedication and enthusiasm as in the past,” he says. “There is still a tremendous need for high-quality, outdoor recreation opportunities, and protection of significant natural areas. Both DCNR and the stakeholders they engage are doing very well to serve that purpose.”
John currently serves as mayor of Sewickley Heights in Allegheny County, and keeps extra busy with consultation work and tree farming.
John loves to spend time outdoors, and especially enjoys hunting, fishing, birding, biking, and canoeing.
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at ra-resource@pa.gov to nominate someone.

Also in the News

Keep PA Beautiful Receives Cigarette Litter Prevention Grant for Work in State Parks
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced it has received a $20,000 grant from Keep America Beautiful to continue its work with the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.
“With our smoke-free beach program now in place at most of our state park waterfront operations, we are seeing a more than 95 percent reduction in cigarette litter in these specific areas,” said DCNR secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “However, this type of cleanup still diverts park personnel from much more meaningful tasks they could be addressing. We welcome Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s continuing support in combatting this problem.”
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful has worked with DCNR to implement the program in various state parks. The installation of ash receptacles, education, and the distribution of portable ashtrays, documented cigarette litter reduction rates of up to 89 percent.
Currently, all forms of tobacco, vaping, and e-cigarettes are not permitted within 30 feet of Pennsylvania state park playground facilities.
Responding to visitor requests and support, DCNR in prior years has implemented smoking controls at 44 of its 54 swimming beaches at state parks throughout the state. Smoking is not permitted at state park pools.
A purple orchid
Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network Developing Best Management Practices
The Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network (PPCN) hopes to advise conservationists in the state about how to best engage in conservation horticulture.
PPCN is developing a guidance document for conducting best management practices for native plants of conservation concern with assistance from the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and the Vascular Plant Technical Committee.
Plant conservation can be a very involved process; from obtaining permits and building relationships with landowners, to understanding the genetics, natural history, and reproduction of a plant.
When completed, the document will provide an overview of relevant techniques and considerations for enhancement of rare plant population viability and maintenance of genetic integrity.
While other states and organizations already have similar best practices in place, this will be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is home to approximately 3,400 plant species; roughly two-thirds of those are considered native to the commonwealth. Of these native plants, DCNR has classified 349 as rare, threatened, or endangered in Pennsylvania.
Governor’s Advisory Council Seeks Candidates for Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission Boards
The Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation is seeking a qualified candidate to represent District 2 (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s board of directors.
Applicants must be competent citizens of the district and well-informed about conservation, restoration, fish and fishing, and boats and boating.
The council also is seeking a qualified candidate to represent District 5 (Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Sullivan, Tioga, and Union counties) on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s board of directors.
Applicants must be well-informed about wildlife conservation and restoration; and be residents of the district.
Individuals interested in applying should email a resume and cover letter to Robb Miller, Governor’s Advisor for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation.
Applications will be accepted until Friday, July 31, 2020.
A stream bank is re-inforced with rock and other structures
Rivers Program Makes Forbidden Drive Less Forbidding
Forbidden Drive in Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley Park is one of the city’s most popular trails. Thousands of pedestrians and bikers use it every year.
In 2018, it was named the Pennsylvania Trail of the Year; however, it also had a problem.
In the trail’s Mt. Airy Bridge Area, the Wissahickon Creek had cut into the bank. More than 60 feet of bank and trail had slumped into the creek. The bank failure halved the trail’s width and made it dangerous for visitors.
DCNR’s Rivers Conservation Program, which works to protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s waterways, provided Philadelphia a $93,500 Keystone Fund grant to help restore the bank and trail by:
  • Stabilizing the lower bank with large rocks
  • Reforming the middle bank with planted terraces
  • Reforesting the upper bank with native trees and other plants
The work is complete, and the collapse sites are stable. For more information, visit the Friends of the Wissahickon website.
If you have a potential rivers project, contact your DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation regional advisor (PDF) to discuss it.
People in kayaks on a river
2020 Pennsylvania Sojourn Grant Awards Announced
The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers announced the recipients of the 2020 Pennsylvania River Sojourn Grants.
These grants support between 10 and 20 paddling events each year, encompassing more than 500 river miles and 50+ on-the-water days, offering more than 100 educational programs, and engaging more than 4,000 people.
With the health and safety of attendees in mind due to COVID-19, certain events may be postponed or cancelled.
Check the organization’s website for up-to-date information about their sojourns:
Conservation Tip
Pollinators help pollinate more than 75 percent of our flowering plants, and nearly 75 percent of our crops.
Penn State Extension is offering a free eight-part webinar series to provide basic knowledge about bees, the importance of pollinators, problems they face, and how you can help them:
Upcoming Events
Pennsylvania state parks in green counties under the statewide reopening plan will begin holding public programs for a limited number of participants.
Programs will be held under the following conditions:
  • Programs will be restricted to 25 participants or less. Check for registration requirements.
  • Social distancing is required during programs.
  • Participants must have a mask for use when social distancing is not possible.
  • Participants must bring their own hand sanitizer.
  • Both in-person and virtual events are starting to be added to the DCNR calendar of events.
Check the DCNR calendar of events for upcoming public programs in state parks.

Featured Video

A large mill building
Shoaff’s Mill at Little Buffalo State Park was a successful gristmill from the 1800s. After closing in 1940, the mill was restored to working order and continues to benefit the community that surrounds it.
This virtual tour of the mill let’s you see the inner workings of this important landmark right from your home.
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