The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced it is seeking public comment on the master plan to create the Catawissa Recreation Area in both Schuylkill and Luzerne counties. DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, along with State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger, is asking the public to weigh in on the plan which gives off-road enthusiasts a public place to drive. “As we move closer to opening a new recreation area, it is critical we receive public input to help chart a course for off-highway recreation on these public lands,” Dunn said. “I thank our state forest staff for managing the acquisition and development of this property and look forward to seeing the results of the master plan project.”

Tentatively set to open in the summer of 2023, the Catawissa Recreation Area is a 5,541-acre parcel of land that will be developed into a motorized recreation area in the Weiser State Forest in Schuylkill and Luzerne counties. DCNR is working with the Larson Design Group and The Markosky Engineering Group to develop the master plan for the recreation area. The Catawissa Recreation Area includes land that comprised the site of a former off-highway vehicle park, Paragon Adventure Park, which closed more than 10 years ago. State forest officials are managing the land until planning is complete and a contractor assumes control of operations. The project serves as a new model for utilizing Liquid Fuels funds and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) restoration funds to conserve land while also expanding opportunities for ATVs, dirt bikes, off-highway vehicles and other forms of recreation.To participate in the public comment period, visit DCNR’s website for the master plan and click the “Survey” tab or email [email protected]. The survey will remain open until December 16.

Pennsylvania has experienced a growing demand for motorized and OHV trail riding experiences over the past decade. There are more than 278,000 ATVs with an active vehicle registration within the state.

“The Catawissa Recreation area is a testament to DCNR’s commitment to providing outdoor recreation opportunities for all users,” Shultzabarger said. “With that said, we will remain positive stewards for these public lands and want to assure the public that conservation is at the core of this project, as it is our agency’s mission.” The property has significant ecological value as a large contiguous tract of forest including sensitive plant habitats, high quality tributaries to the Catawissa Creek, and the presence of a stand of old-growth hemlock. In addition to enhancing motorized recreation in Pennsylvania, the new area will provide opportunities to manage natural resources, restore water quality, and rehabilitate abandoned mine lands in the area.

Visit the project’s HUB site for more information about engagement opportunities regarding the Catawissa Recreation Area.