U.S. Dept. Of Interior To Highlight 2 PA Recreation Projects

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently highlighted two projects in Pennsylvania that will be included in a final 50-state report outlining some of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world.
            The report will represent what states believe are among the best investments in the nation to support a healthy, active population, conserve wildlife and working lands, and  create travel, tourism and outdoor-recreation jobs across the country.
            Landscape conservation and expansion of recreational facilities on the lower Susquehanna River and urban greening in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are among 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week’s report—two in every state—as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors.
            As part of the large Lower Susquehanna landscape initiative, enhancements are needed to Columbia Borough’s Riverfront Park along the lower Susquehanna in Lancaster County. These enhancements will meet visitor needs and serve as a gateway to the river. They will also educate people about Columbia’s historic connection to the Chesapeake Bay.
            Completing a high-trestle bridge and five-mile section of the Manor Rail Trail will link to 23 more miles of trails traversing Lancaster County. In addition, the ongoing relicensing of major hydropower dams on the Susquehanna creates an opportunity for shoreline management, recreation planning, and access development.
            Pennsylvania’s largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, are engaged in work designed to bring conservation, recreation, and economic value to neighborhoods that lack parks and trees. Philadelphia prioritized improvement of public schools and parks in under-served neighborhoods in the first tier of the Green 2015 campaign.
            In Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is targeting neighborhoods for a focused greening initiative and has raised considerable funds from the city and other local partners to implement it.
            These tailored greening projects in Pennsylvania’s two most populous cities will enhance outdoor-recreation opportunities for all age groups, make the cities more attractive tourist destinations, and provide under-served neighborhoods with the plethora of advantages parks offer.
            By actively engaging communities in the beautification of their own neighborhoods and by planting trees or teaching effective storm-water management techniques, this project creates a collective investment in and further enjoyment of outdoor shared spaces.
            The report will also include potential actions by the Department of the Interior and its bureaus to support the projects identified. In Pennsylvania, for example, the department could provide financial assistance for improvements to the Riverfront Park in Columbia Borough and designate the Susquehanna as a connecting water trail to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
            The department could also provide Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with financial and technical assistance to support AGO-related projects of their urban-greening initiatives.
            The report is a result of 50 meetings with governors and stakeholders held by Salazar and other senior Interior officials to solicit ideas on how to best implement AGO in their states.
            These projects were identified for their potential to conserve important lands and build recreation opportunities and economic growth for the surrounding communities as part of close engagement with Gov. Tom Corbett and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as private landowners, local- and tribal-elected officials, community organizations and outdoor-recreation and conservation stakeholders.
            The full 50-state report will be available online in the coming weeks.


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