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DCNR Head Honored for Protecting PA's Wild Places

PHOTO: The acting head of the state's DCNR is receiving an award for helping Pennsylvanians connect to and protect the state's wild places. Photo credit: Beth Little.
PHOTO: The acting head of the state's DCNR is receiving an award for helping Pennsylvanians connect to and protect the state's wild places. Photo credit: Beth Little.
March 13, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Helping Pennsylvanians connect to and protect the state's wilderness has earned an award from a national conservation group for the acting head of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The National Wildlife Federation is honoring DCNR Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn as a "conservation champion." Collin O'Mara, president and chief executive of the federation, said Dunn has a vision for the agency that brings people into the wild, and so helps protect those landscapes.

"The leadership that she's demonstrated in Pennsylvania - whether it's land conservation or promoting outdoor recreation, or improving water quality, or reducing carbon pollution - it puts her among the top female conservationists across the entire country," he said.

According to Dunn, people see the natural world though the species and landscapes with which they feel a personal connection. She said, for instance, that people can never go wrong by planting trees - and from this personal connection comes conservation-minded policies.

"When you think about the ultimate Pennsylvania habitat, and the cold mountain trout stream surrounded by hemlock trees, and understand the threats," she said, "do the things that you can do to conserve those special places."

Dunn said Pennsylvania's 120 state parks also have a big, positive impact on the economy. For every $1 invested, they bring $10 in return, according to a Penn State study.

O'Mara said more people now are working in the state's clean-energy industry than in some traditional energy businesses. He said Dunn has helped Pennsylvanians see the nonpartisan and nonthreatening advantages of environmental policies.

"There's no such thing as a Republican white-tailed deer or a Democratic striped bass," he said. "At the end of the day, these are issues that affect all Pennsylvanians. That's why it's important for someone with Cindy's vision to show how recreation can actually bring together people and also strengthen the economy at the same time."

Dunn is up for confirmation to make her position permanent, but it isn't clear when the Legislature will take up her nomination.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - PA