YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the locations of three new Pennsylvania state parks.
The additional parks bring the total number of state parks in the commonwealth to 124. The $45 million investment conserved nearly 3,500 acres of land in York, Wyoming, and Chester counties, according to a release from the governor’s office.
Having added four total new parks, Wolf has added more parks to Pennsylvania’s state park system than any governor in the last 40 years, according to the release.
“Our beautiful state parks are among the finest in the nation,” said Wolf in the release. “I’m proud to have secured funding in my final budget to make this investment in our park system which will not only preserve invaluable natural resources and habitats for wildlife but provide in-demand access for Pennsylvanians to enjoy the beauty of nature and recreational opportunities.”
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The new state parks are temporarily being called Susquehanna Riverlands in Hellam Township, York County; Vosburg Neck in Wyoming County; and Big Elk Creek in Chester County. The official names for the new parks will be decided during the planning process, the release from the governor’s office says.
The Vosburg Neck site will be the first state park in Wyoming County, according to the release.
Additionally, the Susquehanna Riverlands site connects to large tracts of already preserved land, and the Big Elk Creek site is under pressure from residential and commercial development, the release says.
The new York County state park includes 1,100 acres of natural resources and is located where Codorus Creek flows into the Susquehanna. It is adjacent to the Lancaster Conservancy’s Hellam Hills and Wizard Ranch nature preserves, the release explains.
“Having this spot on the ground as a state park opens up miles and miles and miles of other recreation for fishermen and boaters,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn said.
Dunn said state parks became an even more crucial resource during the pandemic.
“We knew we were essential, we just didn’t realize how essential. People needed the physical health break, the mental health,” she said “This is a state of 13 million people, so to see 47 million individual visits in 2020 is remarkable.”
Two years later, visitation is still at an all-time high, with parks seeing about 42 million visits. Along with outdoor recreation, Dunn said parks provide an economic boost for the state.
“Every dollar spent in a state park returns 12 dollars to the state’s coffers,” she said.
Creating these new state parks also helps protect the state’s natural resources.
“By working side by side with DCNR, we are creating a conservation landscape that future generations will benefit from,” said Phil Wenger, president of Lancaster Conservancy, in the release. “Conservation needs both public and private organizations to partner to offset the impact increased development has on water and air quality, as well as ecological decline, to ensure our natural world doesn’t disappear before our eyes.”
The new parks are expected to be fully operational, complete with amenities, by the end of 2026, according to the release. People can visit the parks as they are, though, starting Tuesday, said Dunn.
Learn more about all of Pennsylvania’s state parks on the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.
Watch the full livestreamed announcement below: