The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary announced Monday that Presque Isle State Park’s Climate and Sustainability Plan will bring the park to net zero energy consumption.

Presque Isle State Park will soon include several features to combat climate change. These features include new solar canopies intended to reduce our carbon footprint.

“I could not be more pleased to make this announcement today as this beautiful park celebrates its 100th year of operation. This plan will set a path for another 100 years of recreation, education and positive experiences at Presque Isle through adaptation, good stewardship and actively working for greener solutions. I thank DCNR’s Bureau of Facility Construction and Design Team, Presque Isle State Park staff, regional staff, our sustainability team and everyone who had a hand in making this announcement possible,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn announced the Climate and Sustainability Plan for Presque Isle State Park Monday.

“The state is very interested in investing this park. That we see it as a model, that we are putting it up front as the first park with its own climate plan, and in doing so we can protect and preserve the infrastructure here at Presque Isle,” said Dunn.

Net zero energy is the use of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and on-site renewable generation to account for 100 percent of energy usage.

Last year, Presque Isle State Park saw about four million visitors and officials said that Presque Isle is a resource the Erie community wants to protect.

According to the DCNR, Presque Isle will add a 280kW solar canopy array over the parking lot at Beach 8.

This solar canopy is expected to bring the park to net zero energy consumption, which will save the DCNR $30,000 on electricity annually while producing enough energy to power 25 average American homes.

It will also reduce the park’s carbon footprint by more than 211,000 pounds a year, or the equivalent of removing 20 passenger cars from the road annually.

“I think these solar parking canopies are really gonna take off in popularity because people love you know having their car just a little cooler, not baking in the sun or if it’s raining it’s shielded,” said Dunn.

Other plans include three public electric vehicle charging stations at Beach 8, and the addition of a plugin hybrid minivan and electric motorcycle added to Presque Isle’s vehicle fleet.

Park operation managers said that Presque Isle State Park is an ideal location for this kind of initiative.

“I think here at Presque Isle we’re a little bit ahead of the curve for the rest of Pennsylvania state parks because we’re pretty vulnerable with being a recurving sandpit,” said Matt Greene, Park Operations Manager at Presque Isle State Park.

DCNR staff finalized the Climate and Sustainability Plan for Presque Isle in summer 2020 and began implementing some of the changes to help address immediate needs.

Some existing improvements include:

  • Rain gardens at Beach 8
  • Shoreline enhancements to protect infrastructure
  • Purchase of property to the south of the park, including a portion of the badly eroding Scott Run
  • Modifications to the park’s wastewater system
  • Installation of extensions to the floating dock pilings in the marina to account for higher water levels

“These improvements have and will continue to make this park a safer, more environmentally friendly place to visit and that will have an impact for decades to come. This already is one of the top destinations in the region and we are hopeful the improvements will reduce interruptions to visitors from issues caused by climate change,” said Greene.

Greene said that the goal is for these solar panels to be implemented in 2023.

“Let’s look to the future. Positioning Presque Isle to be at the next hundred years,” said Greene.

The announcement kicked off the DCNR’s 2021 Sustainability Tour, which is pushing for sustainability, climate adaptation and mitigation to reduce our carbon footprint.

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