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State Park Closings?
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Since our state parks are run by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, I trust troutbert will not raise too big a stink about posting this here:

State lists 50 parks that could close under GOP budget plan
Thursday, May 28, 2009
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has released a list of 50 parks -- including nine in the western part of the state -- that it might need to close in July under a Republican Senate plan that cuts $19 million from its budget.

The department's response Tuesday to a state Senate request to identify the possible park closings lists Ryerson Station in Greene County, Linn Run and Laurel Mountain in Westmoreland County, Laurel Summit in Somerset County; Yellow Creek in Indiana County, Maurice K. Goddard in Mercer County, Clear Creek in Jefferson County, Oil Creek in Venango County, and Erie Bluffs in Erie County.

According to the six-page letter to state Sen. Mary Jo White, R-Venango, chairwoman of the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, a department evaluation process identified 50 of the state's 117 parks that could be closed. It estimated that 35 to 40 of those parks would need to close July 1 if the Republican spending plan for fiscal 2009-10 were adopted.

"None of the closings are certain," said Christina Novak, DCNR spokeswoman. "This is to help people understand the possible impacts of the Senate budget cuts."

If the DCNR needs to close any parks it would continue to allow access to natural features and associated recreation, such as trail hiking. But features such as campgrounds, swimming facilities, restrooms, roads and parking lots would not be available and would be locked or posted accordingly, the department letter noted. There also would be no maintenance of facilities, resource management, environmental education or law enforcement in the closed parks.

If 35 to 40 parks were closed, the DCNR estimated that approximately 3 million park visitors would be affected and visitor spending in local communities would be reduced by almost $58 million.

The department said the Senate budget plan also would require a $1 million reduction in central and regional office staffing, elimination of a tree seedling program that sells 400,000 seedlings a year to landowners, and cut $3 million from the state forest road maintenance program, resulting in the closing of 1,000 miles of forest roads used for hunting, fishing and other recreation.

Responding to a Republican suggestion to raise money for department operations by leasing more state forest land for oil and gas drilling, the letter states it will consider future lease sales if they would not jeopardize the state forests' sustainability certification. More than 660,000 acres of state forest are leased for oil and gas exploration and the revenue was used not for forests and parks funding but to cover part of this year's general fund deficit.

In a news release issued yesterday, Republican Sen. Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County questioned the DCNR's budget claims and said threats to close parks amount to "raw, political scare tactics."

"To be successful, the budget process must be conducted in good faith, especially when we're trying to close a $3 billion deficit without increasing the burden on taxpayers," Mr. Scarnati said. "Scaring citizens is unproductive and plain wrong. I hope DCNR tones down the rhetoric and works with the Legislature to pass a responsible state budget."

A Rendell administration budget plan under consideration in the state House proposes to cut $7 million from the department's $120 million budget but would not require any park closings, the department has said.

Other popular state parks on the DCNR list for possible closure include Elk and Kinzua Bridge in McKean County, Whipple Dam in Huntingdon, Poe Paddy and Poe Valley in Centre County, R.B. Winter in Union County, and Ole Bull in Potter County.

Don Hopey can be reached at dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.
First published on May 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

Posted on: 2009/5/28 6:37
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Re: State Park Closings?

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That would suck...

Posted on: 2009/5/28 9:02


Re: State Park Closings?

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That would suck...

Is it me, or is poe paddy closed now? All the signs said so during the jam, but apparently one can still camp and fish.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 9:42


Re: State Park Closings?
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They probably won't gate the parks, but they may gate certain areas, and facilities requiring maintenance or supervision will be out of operation and perhaps padlocked. We drove into Poe Paddy twice during the Jam and noticed nothing other than the signs you mentioned; however, we just went and parked and didn't scout around or try to use any of the facilities.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 9:55
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Re: State Park Closings?

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Jay,

It's very possible I missed something and Poe Paddy SP closed. But I know for a fact Poe Paddy was open during the jam, and that Poe Valley SP has been closed all year. Are you sure the signs you saw weren't for Poe Valley SP and not Poe Paddy SP? They are separate parks and all of the road signs I know of point you towards Poe Valley, not Poe Paddy, hence they do have closed signs on them.

Poe Valley closed last year. They drained the lake and are making improvements to the dam and campground. When all is complete the lake will be refilled and the park will re-open. I think its scheduled to reopen in 2010 but could be wrong.

Yeah it would suck if all those parks closed.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 10:06


Re: State Park Closings?

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pcray-

Could be. In fact, probably is the case.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 10:09


Re: State Park Closings?

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From Attitudinally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
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What would be of interest to me is whether, should any or all of these closings occur, there would be a move, initiated from within the Legislature, as well to divest the properties out of the public trust and sell them or (as detailed in the Hopey piece) to lease them willy-nilly for energy exploration..

This would be something that bears watching, IMO. Not only on the face of it and the implications it would have for access,, but also frankly, because during my time in PA, Representative White (as cited in the Hopey piece) has not been a friend to conservation interests, having had (and perhaps still) a pretty close association as a water carrier for property rights groups in the NW portion of the state. One of the more interesting tactics of these groups (again, when I was active in PA affairs) was to lobby for the sale of existing public lands and to put in place a moratorium on the addition of new parcels to the public trust.

Or to put it more briefly and perhaps more clearly, I'd keep a close eye on anything to do with public lands disposition where Mary Jo White gets involved.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 10:16


Re: State Park Closings?

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Closing parks does little but p*ss the citizens off.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 17:36


Re: State Park Closings?

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This would suck to lose some of our park. Especially to have them lost and sold, thus preventing access. What is more troubeling to me is that these "fishing clubs" that seem to pop up would likely be interested in picking up some of that land. So I'd think anyway.

Posted on: 2009/5/28 20:34
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Re: State Park Closings?

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Here is a link to all the parks that could possibly be closing.

Link

TYoung

Posted on: 2009/5/28 20:57


Re: State Park Closings?

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hello all, I've been a lurker for over a year now, finally got registered to post, shame it took this grave threat to our public lands to do that. this is a topic not to be taken lightly. if the parks do indeed close, there is a very good chance of them being placed into private hands, timber sold off, gas wells drilled, etc. this has happened before. Two Mile run park, a county park in venango county was placed into private hands in order to "save money". what happened? the area was timbered, wells drilled, facilities shut down. local residents finally had enough, they demanded they get thier park back, and they did. but now the facilities are run down and need rebuilt, the wells are still there and are an eyesore, and the majority of the bigger trees are gone. I'm no eco-nazi type of person, but these parks belong to all of us, they can not be used as leverage in governmental games, and must never be place into private hands for the financial benefit for a select few.

Posted on: 2009/5/29 7:12


Re: State Park Closings?

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What would happen to places like Yellow Creek , and by that i mean there is a dam there how do you close a manmade dam , what i mean is a dam i would think would require a certain amount of ongoing maintainence is the plan to sell a place like Yellow Creek to private concerns? Has anyone ever heard of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club? Andrew Carnegie and his boys screwed up big time now that land is a National Park.

Posted on: 2009/5/29 8:01


Re: State Park Closings?

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I don't want to see the parks close, but I think some are misinterpreting this. To my understanding, the land would not be sold or change hands. They'd simply close the public facilities, like some parking areas, restrooms, campgrounds, public education, and probably some roads. They'd still be public land and still be open to the public, just no facilities.

Posted on: 2009/5/29 8:21


Re: State Park Closings?

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Quote:

pcray1231 wrote:
I don't want to see the parks close, but I think some are misinterpreting this. To my understanding, the land would not be sold or change hands. They'd simply close the public facilities, like some parking areas, restrooms, campgrounds, public education, and probably some roads. They'd still be public land and still be open to the public, just no facilities.


I agree. And I also agree with Joe Scarnati's quotes in the article. The proposed cut amounts to 5.5%. There's less revenue coming in because of the economy, so they should just tighten their belts a little to help balance the budget. They have some fat they could cut without closing state parks, IMHO. I think they are threatening to close popular places like Poe Paddy and Ole Bull to get the public to raise a hue and cry to "conserve" DCNR's budget. It's pure politicking. On the other side the Republicans are playing politics to turn DCNR lands into a big petro-complex of gas wells, rather than the big woods it's been for years and years. "Woods and waters" was the original goal of the state forests, back when Republicans were conservationists, and they shouldn't forget that.

Posted on: 2009/5/29 9:00


Re: State Park Closings?

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A little more info on Poe Valley State Park for those interested. Two summers ago they drained the lake and made millions of dollars worth of improvements to the lake. The summer before that the campground at the lake was closed and they added new cabins, facilities, etc. Recently an inspection was done on the sewer system and it failed, so the entire project was shutdown as a result. The lake is still drained and a mere trickle of Big Poe runs through it. There have been rumors in town about the lake being pretty high on the list of cuts because of this. Alot of memories have been made at that lake, I believe I caught my first fish up there.

Poe Paddy is still open. Our cabin is up in the valley and traffic over the last two years has decreased ten fold. First day of trout was amazing with the lake closed. Only a handfull of cars along Big Poe below the lake. There used to be more traffic for the first day of trout than first day of buck up there. Even memorial day weekend was significantly decreased.

Posted on: 2009/6/1 10:09
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