Amid a broader push to boost the outdoors economy in Pennsylvania, a new state park is coming to the banks of the Susquehanna River in York County.
- The tentatively titled Susquehanna Riverlands State Park is one of three new parks unveiled yesterday by Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn.
- The state is spending $45 million on the new parks, using money allocated in the current state budget.
- The other two parks are in Chester County and Wyoming County.
Where is this happening: The Susquehanna Riverlands park sprawls over 1,100 acres in Hellam Township, north of Route 30. It fronts both the Susquehanna River and Codorus Creek.
- The Lancaster Conservancy agreed to buy the land earlier this year and set out to raise $12 million for acquisition and stewardship of the land.
- “This property has been on the radar of conservation groups for years,” Kate Gonick, senior vice president of land protection and general counsel for the conservancy, said in a statement. “It protects water resources, upland forests and fields in a highly valued prioritized natural landscape. We are thrilled that the Commonwealth recognized its significance and chose to work with the conservancy to develop a new state park
- The conservancy still owns about 1,040 acres of land near the park: the Hellam Hills Nature Preserve and the Wizard Ranch Nature Preserve.
- The state spent $20 million to buy Susquehanna Riverlands, according to DCNR spokesperson Wesley Robinson.
- The proceeds will reimburse the conservancy for its efforts to protect the new park land and free up the nonprofit for other work in York County and along the Susquehanna River, according to Kelly Snavely, a spokesperson for the conservancy.
What’s next: DCNR will develop a master plan for the park and consider public input as part of the process, Robinson said.
- Specific amenities — such as campgrounds — remain to be determined, he said.
- But the state is at least likely to add signs, restrooms, a manager’s office and other features.
- The park is expected to be fully operational by 2026.
Take a hike: State and local officials have been striving to build on Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation areas in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which spurred many people to visit state parks.
- Earlier this month, state officials launched a new Recreation Engagement Coalition to jumpstart talks on growing the outdoors sector, which they valued at roughly $12 billion.
- Local coalition members include Silas Chamberlin, vice president for economic and community development at the York County Economic Alliance, and Kathleen McKenzie, vice president of eastern and central regions for health insurer Highmark.
- DCNR manages 121 parks and 2.2 million acres of state forests.