Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn made two stops in Delaware Canal State Park in Bucks County today to discuss infrastructure needs for the park and the D&L Trail, which runs the length of Delaware Canal.
“With more than $75 million in needed infrastructure projects Delaware Canal State Park is increasingly facing operating challenges that could begin to impact its more than 1 million annual visitors,” Dunn said. “Many of the normal wear-and-tear repairs have also been exacerbated by the effects of climate change and flooding from extreme weather. It serves as a reminder that our trails, dams, campgrounds, bridges, and educational centers require a financial investment.”
Dunn was joined at stops by state senators Bob Mensch and Steve Santarsiero and state Rep. Perry Warren.
Delaware Canal State Park has several critical infrastructure concerns including necessary repairs to bridges, aqueducts, locks, wastegates and river wall.
Paralleling the Delaware River between Easton and Bristol, this diverse park contains a historic canal and towpath, a 50-acre pond, many miles of river shoreline, and 11 river islands. From riverside to farm fields to historic towns, visitors to Delaware Canal State Park enjoy the ever-changing scenery along its corridor.
From Pinchot State Forest in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, the D&L Trail is designed to take travelers south through the Lehigh Valley and into Bucks County, all the while achieving the stated goal of “connecting people to places.”
With a strong presence in every community along its 165-mile path, the trail and its easily accessible trailheads draw active support from its daily users. Infrastructure needs for the D&L Trail exceed $50 million to close trail gaps near Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, Morrisville and Bristol.
“The D&L Trail ties together the heritage of the past, the needs of the present, and the hopes for the future. We seek to provide an equitable resource that addresses community health, economic development, active transportation, and so much more,” said Claire Sadler, Executive Director of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. “With the necessary infrastructure funding to close remaining trail gaps, there are exponential benefits to the prosperity of the local communities.”
Dunn recently visited Shikellamy State Park to assess infrastructure needs at the park. Overall, DCNR has a documented need of more than $1.4 billion for infrastructure repairs and improvements. Issues such as addressing wear and tear, extreme weather and climate change impacts, and a high demand for outdoor recreation require investments, which also allow incorporation of sustainable design and energy efficiency.
“The boon in state park and forests visitors we saw early on in the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, which underscores the need to invest in the outdoors because of the healthy, safe recreational opportunities provided,” Dunn said. “I cannot stress how important it is that we do not miss this opportunity to address our infrastructure needs so that the outdoors continue to be a destination for millions of Pennsylvanians and out-of-state visitors.”
Statewide, outdoor recreation is a $29 billion industry that directly supports 251,000 jobs. For every dollar invested in state parks, $12.41 returns to the commonwealth.
Pennsylvania made its last major injection of funding for conservation an outdoor recreation in 2005 with the Growing Greener II initiative, which funded hundreds of trail projects, conserved thousands of acres of threatened and open space and helped with hundreds of water projects to reduce pollution and flooding.