(White Haven, May 25) On Tuesday, May 24, 2023, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro visited Lehigh Gorge State Park in Luzerne County to kick off the busy summer season and to share his plans to invest in state parks, forests, and trails to make them safe and accessible for everyone. He was joined by PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, Director of the Bureau of State Parks John Hallas, PA State Senator David Argall, and Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Inc. (DLNHC), as well as representatives from various other organizations and outfitters who have been positively impacted by recent investments in conservation and outdoor recreation.
“This weekend Pennsylvanians will be heading outdoors with family and friends for the unofficial start of the summer season and will take advantage of all the opportunities in their state parks and forests, and the Commonwealth’s 12,000 miles of trails,” Governor Shapiro said. “These beautiful places are available to them close to home and at no cost, making it easy for families and communities to enjoy the health and economic benefits they provide. We need to invest in them to make sure they are safe, modern, and welcoming for visitors.”
During the visit, Governor Shapiro met with partners who worked to complete the section of the D&L Trail that runs through Lehigh Gorge State Park, following the Lehigh River through Luzerne and Carbon Counties, and outdoor outfitters whose businesses have benefited from investments made in the park. Speaking at the event were Liz Rosencrans, DLNHC Director of Trails & Conservation and Sierra Fogal, Operations Manager of Pocono Whitewater and Pocono Biking Secretary of the DLNHC Board of Directors.
“We want to give a big thank you to Lehigh Gorge State Park for re-envisioning the D&L Trail and the trail and river access areas that we’re celebrating today,” said Liz Rosencrans. “This project included not only enhancements to the D&L White Haven North Trailhead with resurfacing of the D&L Trail north 1.5 miles to Middleburg Road, but also a full rehabilitation of the D&L White Haven South Trailhead, including year-round restroom facilities, an improved public boat launch, upgraded parking areas, and resurfaced trail south 1.6 miles to the D&L Lehigh Tannery Trailhead. This was no small feat, and the results have a trickling effect that supports vital connections in our communities.”
Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks attract around 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 creates 150,000 jobs.
“The Lehigh River provides accessible outdoor recreation for the entire tri-state area. It is a tourist destination that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists a year and provides an outdoor outlet to our diverse audience,” said Sierra Fogal. “…Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in positive economic impact can be attributed to the Lehigh River. If Lehigh Gorge State Park, the D&L Trail, the access points, the parking and the staff weren’t here supporting this living gem, we would risk losing this economic driver and outdoor recreation that is so important to our region.”
With about half a million visitors annually, Lehigh Gorge State Park is a pivotal stop along the D&L Trail and adjacent to the Trail Town of White Haven. With the re-opening of this key access point, residents and business owners within the town are prepared to start the summer with celebration.
On Saturday, June 3, White Haven will be hosting the White Haven Trout Festival. Activities will include a guided walk along the nearby D&L Trail by the DCNR State Parks staff, fly fishing and fly-tying demonstrations by the PA Fish & Boat Commission, vendors selling artwork, pottery, plantings, and more.
Nearby, Lehigh Gorge State Park and DLNHC will be holding a D&L Trail Tender event to clean up Locks 28 and 29 along the D&L Trail in the spirit of National Trails Day. This is a public D&L Trail cleanup. Interested individuals can register on delawareandlehigh.org.
The week after on Saturday, June 10, will be the White Haven Trail Festival. DCNR, DLNHC, and the White Haven Chamber of Commerce will be there to provide guided walks and information. Pocono Biking will be providing biking shuttle services to the Black Diamond D&L Trailhead. Nearby will be the White Haven Main Street Market with multiple vendors and food trucks. The festival will last from 9AM to 3PM. More information can be found here.
Visit DCNR’s website for more information on Pennsylvania’s 124 state parks.
Learn more about Governor Shapiro’s budget which includes plans for our parks, trails, and forests here.
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that preserves the historic pathway that carried coal and iron from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol. Through key programs like the D&L Trail, National Canal Museum, and Get Your Tail on the Trail, DLNHC connects people to nature, culture, communities, recreation, and our industrial heritage. For more information, visit delawareandlehigh.org/.
Information provided to TVL by:
Gianna Caruso | Communications Coordinator
Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc.
2750 Hugh Moore Park Road | Easton, PA 18042