DCNR announced over $33 million in special fall round C2P2 grants for dozens of projects all over Pennsylvania. The special fall grant round focused on helping underserved communities and supporting an invigorated focus on the outdoor recreation sector, closing trail gaps, and planting trees along streams and in communities. The grants are funded from multiple sources with the largest being the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money appropriated for recreation and conservation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 budget.
Helping Underserved Communities
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced an investment of $19.4 million in 68 projects to help underserved and small communities and partnerships across the Commonwealth with recreation and conservation efforts.
“Having these federal dollars allowed DCNR to reduce the match required, making it possible for small and distressed communities to apply for the help needed to revitalize their boroughs and towns. Our regional advisors put in extra effort to assist,” Dunn said.
Applicants were encouraged to submit projects that advanced their local recreation and conservation vision and implemented priorities of the statewide outdoor recreation plan, such as constructing playgrounds, developing internal loop trails, and improving access for people of all abilities and backgrounds.
“Investing in the upkeep and expansion of our recreational areas improves the quality of life for people who live there, and it also helps support the network of businesses related to outdoor recreation and natural places that have a big impact on the state, local, and rural economies,” Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner said. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation adds $14 billion to the Pennsylvania economy. This activity creates 150,000 full-time jobs which earn Pennsylvanians $6.8 billion in wages and salaries. Pennsylvania has the sixth largest outdoor recreation economy in the country.
Local parks are as diverse as the populations they serve, but they all face similar challenges – access, connectivity, maintenance, staffing, and funding.
- Bedford County – Mann Township, $118,200 for improvements to Community Park play equipment, basketball court, walkways, and fencing;
- Blair County – Altoona, $375,000 for improvements to Garfield Park including loop trails, walkways, parking, and lighting;
- Philadelphia, $187,500 for the Tacony Boat Launch and living shoreline project;
- Schuylkill County – Tremont Borough, $276,000 for improvement to Tremont Borough park including new play equipment, a pavilion, and stormwater controls;
- Statewide – Pennsylvania Environmental Council, $250,000 to develop an Outdoor Recreation Ambassador Program;
- Statewide — $1.8 million to Heritage Areas for a variety of projects including continued development of PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor’s bicycle tourism program, construction of a boathouse for the historic 1912 electric tour boat of the Susquehanna National Heritage Area, and completion of a master plan for a Dark Sky Program in Cameron County within the Lumber Heritage Region;
- Union County – East Buffalo Township, $685,700 for acquisition of 79 acres for a new community park; and,
- Westmoreland County – Ligonier Township, $50,000 for a pool feasibility study and master plan for Ligonier Beach.
Riparian Buffers, Urban Tree Planting Projects, and Lawn-to-Meadow Conversions
DCNR Secretary Dunn announced an investment of $11.8 million for streamside forest buffers, converting lawns to meadows and trees, and planting trees in urban communities to help improve water quality and to make the Commonwealth more resilient to climate change.
“Federal ARPA funds are intended to help us grow our way to recovery from the pandemic through investments in economic revitalization and clean water,” Dunn said. “DCNR worked quickly with a special grant round this fall so that we could get this money on the ground helping Pennsylvania communities.”
Twenty grants are being awarded planting approximately 700 acres of streamside trees statewide, with several partners focusing on planting in the Susquehanna River watershed; 12 grants supporting the TreeVitalize program and similar community tree planting efforts; and projects to change lawns to meadows and trees for pollinators and water quality included in seven grants. Properly planted and maintained, streamside trees and shrubs filter the runoff of sediments and fertilizers that are applied to lawns and crops; control erosion; slow stormwater runoff; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat. Converting lawn to a diverse array of native trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, and warm season grasses helps keep soil and nutrients in place and offers food and cover for pollinators butterflies, and songbirds. Trees in urban settings promote health and social well-being by removing air pollution, reducing stress, and encouraging physical activity and community ties; help reduce urban temperatures; provide habitat and food for animals; and are valuable green infrastructure to manage stormwater.
- Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, $3 million, to support riparian buffer plantings and lawn conversions within the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
- Chesapeake Conservancy, $900,000, for efforts to delist agriculturally impaired streams by providing funding for roughly 60 acres of riparian forest buffers, establishment of recently planted buffers, and robust partner and landowner engagement;
- PA Association of Conservation Districts, $100,000, to develop and manage a mini-grant program supporting lawn conversion projects statewide;
- Willistown Conservation Trust, $260,000 grant to install a lawn conversion demonstration site and support a lawn conversion program for public and private landowners in its Chester County service area;
- Erie City, $335,000 to complete diverse projects in areas that lack green space and canopy cover, including multifunctional buffer plantings, lawn conversions, and tree plantings; and,
- Pottstown School District, Montgomery County, $440,000, to plant more than 500 trees on school district properties with a focus on areas in need of green space and tree canopy, Tree Tender trainings and planting events with students.
Visit the DCNR website for a complete list of grants by county.
Trail Gap Closure and ATV/Snowmobile Trail Projects
DCNR Secretary Dunn announced an investment of $3.2 million to help address priority trail gaps and support ATV/Snowmobile projects in the Commonwealth. The grants help the Commonwealth implement its vision of having a trail within 10 minutes of every Pennsylvanian by closing priority trail gaps.
“In addition to many other benefits, trails contribute to the vitality of our communities by making them places where people want to live and locate a business,” Dunn said. “They are a perfect use of the federal recovery funds intended to help our economy rebuild after the pandemic and we worked hard to get them on the ground quickly.”
Trail Gap Closure Projects
The seven trail grants totaling about $3 million being awarded include:
- Construction of 4.45 miles of new trail and rehabilitation of half a mile;
- Grants to Allentown, Hanover Township, and the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor that will complete a 2.75-mile connection of the D&L Trail, a priority trail gap through the Lehigh Valley;
- Construction of 1.5 miles of the Knox and Kane Trail and a “Four Seasons” trailhead in Forest County;
- Construction of 0.75 miles of the Chester Creek Trail in the City of Chester, Delaware County;
- Design for 0.7 miles of the Cobbs Creek Trail in Philadelphia; and,
- A study of the feasibility of a 2-mile extension to the Green River Trail in Greene County.
Investments from the ATV and Snowmobile restricted accounts generated from registration fees also are being made in three projects:
- Pennsylvania Snowmobile Statewide Association, $52,000 for a mini-grant program;
- Treasure Lake Property Owners Association, Clearfield County, $73,500, for a master plan for an ATV trailhead at Treasure Lake Cayman Landing campground; and,
- Ulysses Township, Potter County, $50,000 for the Old Route 6 ATV/Snowmobile bridge over Pine Creek.
Visit the DCNR website for a complete list of grants by county.
New Grant Rounds Opening
The 2023 grant round will open on January 17 and close April 5. The grant programs opening include– Community Recreation & Conservation Planning; Community & Watershed Forestry; Land Acquisition & Conservation; Motorized Trails; Non-Motorized Trails; Park Rehabilitation & Development; and State & Regional Partnerships.
The next ATV/Snowmobile grant round will open February 1 and close March 31.
Visit DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) webpage for more information.