Governor Shapiro and First Lady Shapiro Visit Kinzua Bridge State Park, Announce Investments in Local Recreation and Conservation Projects in Pennsylvania Wilds
October 12, 2023
Investments will help the Pennsylvania Wilds Center continue its work to make Pennsylvania a leader in outdoor recreation as the Center partners with DCNR to expand opportunities for artisans and manufacturers at state parks
As part of the Administration’s $52.5 million investment announced last week, investments will also help Mount Jewett Borough expand access to a busy trailhead and restore part of Kinzua Creek
Mt. Jewett, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro, First Lady Lori Shapiro, and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County to announce nearly $600,000 in investments for partnerships, outdoor recreation, and conservation in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
The grants are a part of the $52.5 million investment Governor Shapiro announced last week for more than 225 recreation and conservation projects across Pennsylvania that will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities – including 23 trail projects, 13 projects for river conservation, 13 community and watershed forestry projects, and 99 projects to develop or rehabilitate recreation, park and conservation areas and facilities.
“Today, I’m proud to announce nearly $600,000 in new investments for partnerships, outdoor recreation, and conservation in the Pennsylvania Wilds. I want more people to recognize that Pennsylvania has some of the most spectacular natural beauty you can find – and that’s why we secured $112 million this year to invest in our state parks,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Our local parks and natural spaces are hometown treasures in our neighborhoods – but for our rural towns, they’re also the center of our local economy. Communities across Pennsylvania should know that my Administration is ready to work with you to protect and invest in your local treasures and in turn help grow our local economy.”
The grants Governor Shapiro and Secretary Dunn announced include:
- $300,000 for the Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., (PA Wilds Center) to continue its work to promote regional outdoor recreation, public lands, and conservation. The PA Wilds Center and DCNR work together to grow small businesses and create new markets for locally made artisan products through operation of PA Wilds Conservation Shops at the region’s state parks, and are exploring additional opportunities for artisans and manufacturers to offer products at additional state parks in the region.
- $179,200 to Mount Jewett Borough for its Main Street Plaza Park to include walkways and restrooms in this busy key trailhead for the Knox to Kane Rail Trail and as the gateway community to Kinzua Bridge State Park.
- $112,700 to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for restoration of Kinzua Creek in Lafayette Township that runs through the bottom of Kinzua Gorge visible from the skywalk at the state park.
The grants are administered through DCNR and supported by the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship funds.
Governor Shapiro also advocated for $112 million in the 2023-24 budget to improve our parks and forests and create a new Office of Outdoor Recreation to connect Pennsylvania’s natural resources and parks with local businesses and put Pennsylvania on the map as a leader in outdoor recreation.
“The Commonwealth has made millions of dollars of investments in destination facilities like the Kinzua skywalk so that visitors have a great experience when they travel to the Pennsylvania outdoors,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “As we learned during the pandemic when travel came to a halt, supporting the partners and entrepreneurs who live and work here to make them resilient and proud of their places is critically important to support Pennsylvania’s economy – and the Shapiro Administration is committed to making Pennsylvania a leader in outdoor recreation.”
During today’s visit, the Governor met local partners, artisans, and elected officials connected to the PA Wilds landscape whose regional work has benefited from investments made in parks, forests, and trails.
“Outdoor recreation is a powerful and growing opportunity for Pennsylvania, and definitely for rural areas given our tremendous natural assets,” said PA Wilds Center CEO Ta Enos. “It’s a job and wealth generator like any other industry, but when done intentionally and sustainably it can have incredible multiplier effects, too, helping rural communities address a host of interconnected issues like population decline, workforce retention, quality of life and youth engagement. We are thrilled to see the Governor’s support for outdoor recreation statewide and for the place-based economic development we are doing around it here in the PA Wilds.”
“Through strategic collaborations between the PA Wilds Center and organizations such as DCNR, new opportunities emerge for rural small businesses, like mine,” said PA Made artist Mickayla Poland. “The PA Wilds Conversation Shops, like the one here at Kinzua Bridge State Park, play a pivotal role in supporting my business by not only purchasing and selling my products but also by drawing increased tourism and traffic to the region. As more attractions and activities become available in the area, the more visitors are drawn to it, creating a thriving market and audience for small businesses.”
With about 250,000 visitors annually, Kinzua Bridge State Park is one of the most unique destinations in the PA Wilds and one of the best places to enjoy fall foliage.
“The Kinzua Bridge is the focal point of our Mount Jewett community and captures the beauty of our region so well. The Skywalk and Kinzua Bridge State Park, along with our section of the Knox & Kane Rail Trail that has been recognized as the Pennsylvania Trail of the Year, are beautiful reminders of how the PA Wilds provides both locals and visitors with the chance to see remarkable natural and manmade beauty interwoven,” said Mount Jewett Mayor Brianna Howard. “We are grateful to Governor Shapiro and the DCNR for taking time to visit the Kinzua Bridge, and for their efforts to help revitalize and invest in communities like Mount Jewett.”
When the bridge was constructed in 1882 it was dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world” as the highest and longest railroad viaduct. A tornado took most of the bridge down in 2003 with the remainder becoming the Kinzua skywalk in 2011. A visitor center interpreting the history of bridge, its builders, and the surrounding area opened in 2014.
Kinzua Bridge also is the northern end for the 74-mile Knox and Kane Rail Trail, a part of which the Shapiro Administration recently named 2023 Trail of the Year, that is breathing new life into numerous towns along the corridor.
Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks attract 40 million visitors annually, with about a quarter of them visiting from out of state. Outdoor recreation adds $14 billion annually to Pennsylvania’s economy and supports 150,000 jobs.
Governor’s Press Office, email@example.com