(WHTM) — On September 27, 2022, Pennsylvania announced the formation of three new state parks, including this one, the Susquehanna Riverlands Park in York County. It’s looking to the future, but in a way, it’s also a celebration of the legacy of one man-Maurice Goddard, long-time director of the Department of Forests and Waters.
Goddard actually has two historical markers in his honor. An official state historical marker sits in front of the Rachel Carson building in Harrisburg, home of DFW’s successor organization, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Another marker, erected by the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is near his home in Camp Hill.
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Born in 1912, Maurice Goddard became an instructor at the Mont Alto School of Forestry from 1935 to 1937. He served directly with Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II. After the war he served as Director of Forestry, first at Mont Alto, then at the Penn State campus in State College.
In 1955 Governor George Leader tapped Goddard to be the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters. Goddard swept house, nudging out a lot of political appointees and replacing them with trained professionals. It was then that Goddard set a goal of putting a state park within 25 miles of every Pennsylvanian. While he didn’t achieve this goal, he managed to add 45 new state parks with over 130,000 acres of land, as well as 1.5 million new acres of state forest.
In 1970 Goddard became secretary of the new Department of Environmental Resources, formed by merging the Department of Forests and Waters with several other agencies. He retired from the post in 1979, after serving five Pennsylvania governors over 24 years. He would remain active in the environmental movement until his death in 1995 at age 83.