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PA State Parks Win National Gold Medal Award In Face Of Drastic Budget Cuts
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The Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks has won the prestigious National Gold Medal Award presented by the American Academy of Park and Recreation Management in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting.

“On behalf of the men and women working in our state park system, we are very proud to receive this award in recognition of our skills at managing our state parks and for our innovative approaches that have drawn people into our parks in new ways and connected them to nature through outdoor recreation,” said Acting DCNR Secretary John Quigley. “This is truly an honor to be chosen from among the best systems in the country.

“We strive to help citizens build a personal connection to conservation through our parks that can be life-changing and that can help to ensure our natural resources are available for future generations,” Acting Secretary Quigley added.

“We see ourselves not only as land protectors and recreation providers, but also as a model of best practices, conservation advocates, and educators of our future stewards,” Acting Secretary Quigley said.

State Parks Video

Watch an eight-minute video
 about Pennsylvania State Parks that was part of the award application online.

“The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation congratulates the Bureau of State Parks on their accomplishment,” says Marci Mowery, President of the Foundation. “Their 1,600 dedicated staff work tirelessly to not only manage more then 300,000 acres of land for wildlife, water quality and recreation; but to meet the recreational needs of the citizen’s through innovative programming, creative budgeting, and partnerships.”

Pennsylvania has 117 state parks and three conservation areas that host more than 35 million visitors each year.

Some of DCNR’s new and innovative state park programs include:

-- Get Outdoors PA, which offers hundreds of activities annually for people to learn about outdoor recreation opportunities such as kayaking, fishing and hiking, and learn about how the public can help protect Pennsylvania’s natural resources, their role and why they should care.

-- Adventure Camp--A joint effort of the Bureau of State Parks, city parks and recreation programs, and youth organizations that exposes urban area teens to experiences in nature. More than 150 kids attended camp in eight metropolitan areas last summer.

-- A “green” parks initiative to address climate change and energy consumption in Pennsylvania’s parks.

-- New construction work on the system’s first nature inn at Bald Eagle State Park to expand overnight accommodations and attract new visitors.

-- A dedicated volunteer and Friends Program to assist state parks meet the demands of visitors.

“The selection of the DCNR Bureau of State Parks for the prestigious 2009 National Gold Medal Award, the "Oscar" of recreation and park agency recognition, provides independent confirmation of the high quality of the state parks system available to the citizens of the Commonwealth,” says Robert Griffith, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society. “It recognizes quality professional management; significant financial investment such as from the Keystone Fund and Growing Greener; innovative outreach through efforts like "Get Outdoors PA" and urban initiatives; and contributions made by the state parks to tourism, health and wellness, and quality recreation opportunities. We certainly need to protect these state treasures for future generations to enjoy!”

“The Gold Medal Award confirms what the more than 35 million visitors to Pennsylvania State Parks already knew,” says Mowery, “which is that our system is number one. What a great treasure to hand to the next generation”

Unfortunately, the award comes on the heels of the largest cut ever made in state funding for DCNR and the Bureau of State Parks.

The Gold Medal Award, presented every two years, is the highest honor a park system can receive within the industry.

Winners are determined by a panel of parks and recreation professionals that evaluate application materials with an emphasis on excellence in long-range planning, resource management, citizen support systems, environmental stewardship, program and professional development and agency recognition. Emphasis is given to addressing the needs of those served through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.

For more information about the Gold Medal program, visit the awards webpage.

Visit the PA Parks and Forests Foundation and PA Recreation and Parks Association for more information on recreation opportunities in Pennsylvania.

10/26/2009

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