Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined other state and Bureau of State Parks officials in naming a multi-use trail at Maurice K. Goddard in honor of DCNR’s first secretary, John C. Oliver.
A frequent visitor to the Mercer County state park, Oliver served as DCNR secretary from 1995, when the department was formed, to 2003. In ceremonies today, the 12-mile trail was dedicated as the “John C. Oliver Multi-Purpose Loop Trail.”
“It is so fitting that a man who embraces the active outdoors life — hunting, fishing, hiking, biking — is being honored with the naming of a state park facility that speaks of those passions,” Dunn said. “This newly named trail promotes that lifestyle — by getting park visitors of all ages out walking, seeing and appreciating our natural blessings here in Pennsylvania.”
On July 6, 1995, then- Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge nominated Oliver, longtime president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, to be the first secretary of the new department created just five days earlier. On that date, 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.
“Twenty years ago, I had the pleasure of working with John C. Oliver at DCNR when it was first formed,” Dunn told attendees gathered near the park’s Lake Wilhelm launch area. “Just about eight weeks ago he and I looked back on 20 years of department achievements. He came to that anniversray celebration because, as he said, he holds the men and women of DCNR in the highest regard.
“John had the uncanny knack of remembering names and faces of the men and women working with DCNR. Whether it was discussing a parks or forestry project in the field — or discussing a new grouse dog’s performance with a coworker in his common 7 a.m. office rounds — he always made DCNR employees feel proud. And stressed their importance.”
A resident of Sewickley, Allegheny County, Oliver often visits Maurice K. Goddard State Park where he enjoys roamining its 2,856 acres, and fishing and boating on its 1,680-acre Lake Wilhelm. Speaking today at the dedication ceremony, Oliver noted the trail, lake and parklands offer so much to so many throughout all seasons.
“And, its large lake, abundant wetlands, old fields and mature forests all provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife, especially waterfowl, eagles and ospreys,” Oliver said. “This is what we do at DCNR, preserve and protect, not just for us, but for future generations.”
“Often, when people learn I was secretary, they’ll ask, ‘What was it like to be a state employee? A bureaucrat?’” Oliver told his audience. “Honestly, I answer, ‘It was the best job I’ve ever had.’
And I thank many of you folks here for that. There is a passion here that you bring to the job — daily … It is this commitment that makes DCNR the finest conservation organization in the United States.”
Joining Oliver, Dunn and Bureau of State Parks officials at the dedication ceremony were state Sen. Michelle Brooks, Greenville, Mercer County, and retired senators Robert Robbins and Roy Wilt.
The multi-use trail honoring Oliver is described as offering some more difficult hiking, with paved and roadway sections. Parking can be accessed along the trail at boat launches or the marina. The main trail parking area is on Lake Wilhelm Road between a bridge and the park office.
This scenic loop is composed of two sections: one, along the lake’s north shore, is open to hiking, biking and snowmobiling. The other is open to hiking, biking and cross-country skiing.
Details on Maurice K. Goddard and Pennsylvania’s other 119 state parks can be found at www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select “Find a Park”).