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As a fan of our state parks and forests, I am writing to urge you to support sustainable and adequate funding for operations of our state parks and forests, and for investments in community recreation.

As an avid [insert your form of recreation here] I enjoy our state lands. While recreating, I witness both the passion Pennsylvanians have for their parks and forests, as well as the needs that exist. I also witness the important role our parks and forests play in supporting surrounding communities. Sadly, HB 218 (the House Budget Bill) would send us backwards as it relates to operating ourstate lands.

HB 218 severely underfunds the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This loss would deal a blow to not just my opportunity to [your recreation], but to all users of our parks and forests.

Positive experiences in state parks and forests happen because of the many dedicated staff that not only ensure my safety, the keep the bathrooms clean, the lawns mowed, and the trails in good order. Staff also provide educational and recreational programs.

How might this underfunding impact my experience? Aside from the chance that my activity could disappear or I might have limited access, I also worry that if something should happen, would there be a ranger on duty that could assist?

More specifically, underfunding would hurt local communities, who count on visitors for support of the many small businesses that exist or communities that count on DCNR for investment in community parks.

Additionally, underfunding may: [Choose one or two from the following menu—delete those that don’t apply. Please personalize the issue by indicating how that might impact your park or forest.]

  • Shortened camping seasons, potentially removing shoulder seasons that accommodate anglers and hunters
  • Significantly reduced access to overnight accommodations of all kinds
  • Significant reduction in wage staff(approximately a 22% cut!), including maintenance, rangers and educators
  • Reduced visitor center hours in state parks
  • Reduction in ranger patrols in forests and parks
  • Elimination of capacity to meet the demand for new or connector trails
  • Reduction in routine maintenance, such as lawn mowing, bathroom cleaning, tree trimming
  • Increased deferred maintenance, leading to potentially more costs down the road
  • Staff shortages for the high risk fire season
  • Delays in providing the public timely information regarding drinking wells and groundwater
  • Reduced bridge inspections on bridges less than 20 feet in length
  • Reduction in dam inspection
  • Inability to purchase heavy equipment that maintains roads and fights wildfires
  • Emergency radio equipment purchases would be suspended
  • Limited staffing in the mineral division to oversee lease transactions, audits, etc.

I cannot over emphasize the important role parks and forestshave played in my life. [Give example of important role.]

Our parks and forest receive more than 40 million visitors a year. With that comes maintenance needs. If we don’t invest in maintaining are parks, such as [need at your park or forest], a simple repair could turn into a capital project.

In closing, as a user of Pennsylvania’s parks and forests, I urge you to invest in fully funding the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It’s good for the health of Pennsylvania. It’s good for the economy. And it’s good for me.