Public Lands Team

Rocks, leaves, and twigs in the foreground looking from a high vantage point out at the Delaware River

Image by Rachel Rosenfeld, Sierra Club PA staff

Mission : To defend and expand public lands and open space in PA and support state policy that protects forests and encourages access for all Pennsylvanians. Support biodiversity policies and protect endangered species. Oppose efforts to privatize and exploit resources on state parks and forests. Advise Chapter Leaders about advocacy opportunities and engage with key stakeholders and allied organizations. Support Group teams working in this space.

2021 Priorities

Meetings and Events

The SC/PA Public Lands Team meets quarterly on the 4th Monday via video call. Look for "Chapter Public Lands Team Mtg" event on  our event calendar.

Recent Accomplishments

Let's Get Pennsylvania -- and New York and New Jersey -- Their First National Park
Speaker: Don Miles, SC/PA Chapter Vice Chair, John Donahue, retired Del. Water Gap Natl. Rec
Date/Time: June 30, 2021
Hoste by: Public Lands Team

Description: The residents of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey have never had a National Park in their states. Yet the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (a unit of the national parks system) has almost as many annual visitors as Yellowstone or Yosemite and is within a 3-hour drive of over 60 million people. Please join the immediate past Superintendent of the DWGNRA, John Donahue, PA Sierra Club Chapter Conservation chair Tom Au, and PA Chapter vice-chair Don Miles in a one hour discussion of how (and why) we should upgrade DWGNRA to full National Park status.

Call To Action!

Coming soon

PA Legislation

  • xxx - SUPPORT

  • xxx - OPPOSE

  • xxx - TRACKING


Contacts & Volunteer Interest

To ask a quesiton of the Public Lands Team, or learn how you can contribute to our team, submit this Volunteer Interest Form.

We are always looking for new volunteers. Join our next meeting (see Meetings & Events above) or connect with our team leaders to learn how you can work to support DCNR funding, build up our resource hub and increase the awareness of the benefits of public lands in PA.

Blogs & Articles

Coming soon

Why should the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area become a National Park and Preserve?

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York contain no National Parks.

The nearest National Parks to these states are Acadia National Park in Maine and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, over 300 miles away. In fact, of the 64 National Parks, only 9 are east of the Mississippi River.

And yet, 42 million people live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York and over 60 million people live within a 3 hour drive of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA).

Access to enjoy a National Park is an equity issue: many folks who live in these three states are not able to visit the famous National Parks of the West -- such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, or Yosemite -- due to lack of funds or the demands of their employment. DEWA is easily accessible to visitors due to its proximity to several interstate highways (I-80, I-84, I-76, and I-78).

Still, over 4 million people already annually visit DEWA -- a number similar to those who annually visit such western National Parks as Yellowstone -- and yet those Parks have budgets multiple times that of DEWA.

The result is that the limited resources now available to DEWA cannot adequately provide its visitors with the visitors centers, Rangers, parking, campsites, restrooms and beaches to serve those current visitors. This inadequate support necessarily also impacts the neighboring communities of DEWA. The increased funding available to a National Park and Preserve would enable lessening adverse tourist impacts on nearby communities -- while likely increasing their commercial activities.

National Park status for DEWA would not only provide the funding to help remedy these deficiencies but would also possibly facilitate enlargement of the lands currently encompassed by DEWA: tens of thousands of acres of state protected lands in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey could be added to a new DEWA National Park and Preserve, if the states agreed, and could increase such a National Park and Preserve to encompass over 200,000 acres, from DEWA's current 70,000 acres.

DEWA is the clear choice for a Pennsylvania-New Jersey-New York National Park: it borders all three states on both sides of a National Wild and Scenic River (itself rare for a National Park), it is near to all the residents of all three states, and -- look at a map of this region -- is the only large natural area suitable for such a Park and Preserve (the Adirondacks and the Catskills are state parks New York has no interest in federalizing and the state parks in Pennsylvania are all remote and not easily accessible to millions of visitors).

National Park status would not preclude any current activities allowed in DEWA -- including hunting -- since many thousands of acres (probably more than currently allow hunting) would permit hunting in the Preserve portion of the new DEWA. The already-myriad activities taking place in the existing DEWA -- hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, cycling, horseback riding, boating, rock climbing, bird-watching, and visiting the many Lenape indigenous people's historical sites would continue and be more-expansive in a new National Park and Preserve. Indeed, the number and variety of activities available to visitors in DEWA already exceed the number available in most National Parks.

National Park and Preserve status for DEWA will benefit not only DEWA but its millions of visitors and its nearby communities. The time is long overdue for National Park and Preserve status be granted to this wonderful natural area to serve our region.

-- Pennsylvania Sierra Club/New Jersey Sierra Club Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area national park upgrade team,

John Donahue, chair
John Kashwick, NJ SC
Donald Miles, PA SC