May. 26, 2017
As summer kicks off, many Pennsylvania families are making plans to visit one of our state’s beautiful parks. Thousands of acres are managed by the Commonwealth for the enjoyment of all residents. However, numerous parks across the Commonwealth, like Beltzville State Park in Carbon County, are struggling to keep up with increased financial demands that come with heightened attendance.
I know so many folks, myself included, who have enjoyed visiting Beltzville State Park for decades. In recent years, the natural beauty of the park has suffered due to a lack of resources. Currently, local volunteers are stepping in to clean up the park after busy weekends.
I believe we should be doing more to enhance the visitor experience at Beltzville and at parks across the state, which is why I have introduced House Bill 1458
, which would allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to impose fees or charges for activities, admissions, uses or privileges at state parks. Fees would solely be used for the maintenance, operation or administration of the state park system.
This bill would strictly address recreational areas and would provide DCNR with the option to levy a parking fee for those areas for visitors – with higher fees for out-of-state residents. The purpose of this legislation is not to gouge visitors who want to enjoy our local parks but to provide a funding stream to ensure public safety, facility upgrades and maintenance. This bill would not levy a fee on hunting and fishing license holders or those with state-registered watercraft. Some of our parks have swelled to overcapacity causing issues with trash, cleanliness and safety. Local and state police resources are being consumed by calls to Beltzville State Park, and this is simply unacceptable.
I commend DCNR park rangers and staff who do a wonderful job protecting and serving our state park system. This bill is designed to enhance the resources they will have available to carry out their mission. The recreational areas in Pennsylvania’s state parks deserve to be appreciated and respected. A nominal fee will accomplish this goal and will help return our parks to their once-pristine condition. We are blessed with one of the largest state park systems in the country, and House Bill 1458 would protect and enhance Pennsylvania’s recreational areas for years to come.
Representative Doyle Heffley
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Dux