(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and First Lady Lori Shapiro, along with the state DCNR secretary, Cindy Adams Dunn, visited Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County on Thursday to announce investments in the Pennsylvania wilds.

Nearly $600,000 in investments was announced for partnerships, outdoor recreation, and conservation. The grants announced include the following:

  • $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
    in Lafayette Township that runs through the bottom of Kinzua Gorge
    visible from the skywalk at the state park.

Watch the full news conference below:

“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 are administered through DCNR and supported by the Keystone and Environmental Stewardship funds.

The Governor and First Lady takes a tour of Kinzua Bridge State Park

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.

Governor Shapiro also advocated for $112 million in the 2023-24 budget to improve state parks and forests, and to 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.”

Governor Shapiro and First Lady Shapiro Visit Kinzua Bridge State Park, Announce Investments in Local Recreation and Conservation Projects in Pennsylvania Wilds

When the Kinzua Bridge was constructed in 1882 it was known as 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.

You can find more information about Pennsylvania state parks and the Pennsylvania Wilds on the DCNR website.