DCNR grants nearly $600,000 to outdoor recreation and conservation in the PA Wilds
In a visit to the Kinzua Bridge State Park on Thursday, Governor Josh Shapiro announced $591,900 in investments to three entities within the Pennsylvania Wilds. Money will go toward outdoor recreation, conservation and partnerships.
The Pennsylvania Wilds Center, a nonprofit promoting conservation and economic development, is getting $300,000.
Mount Jewett Borough is getting $179,200 to upgrade its Main Street Plaza Park. Upgrades will include walkways and restrooms. The park serves as a trailhead for the Knox to Kane Rail Trail which leads to Kinzua Bridge State Park.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is getting $112,700 to restore Kinzua Creek in Lafayette Township. The creek runs below the skywalk.
Shapiro said the state is paying special attention to state parks, and pointed to the nearly $112 million allocated to them in the last budget.
“I think it's also really important that when we invest in these state parks, we do our best to connect the dots with the local community and make sure that we are lifting up local communities as part of that and making their work in the outdoors more accessible, more user friendly and more fun," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said state parks are central to local economies. He said PA Wilds Conservation Shops, which are locally sourced gift shops in the parks, made half a million dollars last year. Half of those sales went back to local businesses and local economies.
“That's an economic driver. That's a lifeline for communities like Mount Jewett,” Shapiro said.
Mickayla Poland is an artist in St. Marys whose work is sold at these shops. She said they play a pivotal role in supporting her business.
“As more attractions and activities become available, the more visitors are drawn to these areas, cultivating a thriving market and audience for small businesses. The growth of the PA Wilds and the outdoor tourism fuels prosperity for local entrepreneurs,” Poland said.
The Kinzua Bridge State Park sees about 250,000 visitors each year, according to the Shapiro administration.