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April 30, 2014

Pennsylvania wants to know what you like to do outdoors

HARRISBURG — What do you like to do outside? That’s what the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants to know.

Department Secretary Ellen Ferretti is asking state residents to share what they like to do outdoors in a 5-minute, online survey that will assist with planning.

DCNR is working with experts across the state to develop the next Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (2014-18), which will help to guide future recreation investments, policies and facilities.

“Five years after the current Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation Plan was written, recreation interests and trends may be different,” Ferretti said. “We’d liked to know if walking is still Pennsylvanians’ favorite outdoor activity? Do people still want trails and on-road bike lanes?”

Citizen feedback is an important component to building the goals of the plan. In addition to a scientifically conducted survey earlier this year by Penn State and a survey of recreation providers currently being performed, a general online survey is now open for Pennsylvanians wanting to share their opinions about outdoor recreation.

The survey is completely confidential and will just take a few minutes at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/paoutdoorrec.

After feedback from all three surveys is analyzed, a draft plan will be written in late summer and will be available for review and comment on the plan’s website.

Feedback sessions will allow citizens, providers and interested stakeholders to give their input before a final document is presented to the National Park Service later this year.

“Please make sure your voice is heard by taking the survey,” Ferretti said.

A new plan every five years keeps Pennsylvania eligible for federal Land and Water Conservation funding.

The current plan identifies walking for pleasure or fitness as the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Pennsylvania. Other popular activities include sightseeing, driving for pleasure, nature watching, swimming, picnicking and bicycling.

Past survey respondents listed bike lanes, dog parks, rental cabins and wildlife viewing areas as the facilities they would most like to see increased.

Studies show greater access to outdoor recreation facilities, particularly close-to-home walking and biking opportunities, makes our communities better places to live; can assist in combating obesity — a serious health threat to adults and children; and also increase tourism potential, which can increase economic opportunities.

Visit www.paoutdoorrecplan.com to learn more about the outdoor recreation plan and process.

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