First Lady Frances Wolf and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn highlighted outdoor opportunities in Pennsylvania during a visit with outdoor recreation and conservation professionals in Pittsburgh. They participated in a walking tour with Riverlife and stopped by Point State Park to speak with members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps.
“Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces and I think that during the past year we saw just how important they are to our quality of life,” said First Lady Wolf. “I am thankful for the individuals like those at Riverlife, DCNR and the Outdoor Corps who work to preserve the natural beauty of the commonwealth and make them accessible for all Pennsylvanians to enjoy.”
The visit began at the new Riverlife headquarters on Pittsburgh’s North Shore next to the Roberto Clemente Bridge and PNC Park. Riverlife, whose mission is to create, activate, and celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, connecting people through exceptional places and experiences, has been committed to the redevelopment of Pittsburgh’s downtown riverfronts since 1999. For the past two decades, Riverlife has been leading the implementation of a community vision plan for a 15-mile, 1,050-acre loop of riverfront public open space centered around Downtown; more than 85% of the loop has been established and improved for public use.
Riverlife CEO Matt Galluzzo served as the Southwest Regional Ambassador for First Lady Wolf’s One Lens storytelling initiative.
“During the pandemic, so many Pittsburghers relied on the city’s waterfronts for wellness and recreation,” said Matthew Galluzzo, Riverlife president and CEO. “This summer we’re seeing a renewed sense of urgency in the community around restoring riverfront parks and open spaces that have been ‘loved to death,’ filling the gaps in our regional riverfront network, and making sure that the benefits of that network are accessible to everyone. We were honored to talk about Riverlife’s work with First Lady Wolf and Secretary Dunn, and know we share a common vision for top-notch outdoor open spaces in Pittsburgh and across the commonwealth.”
The tour continued with stops at Allegheny Landing park to discuss restoration efforts, Invisible Ecologies, an art installation that uses man-made materials found in the urban environment (concrete, graffiti, and discarded plastic and glass) to reveal the potential for human, plant, and wildlife interaction within the constructed urban environment, and the Black Lives Matter mural along the Allegheny River waterfront.
Then, the First Lady and Secretary Dunn stopped by Point State Park to meet with members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps. Secretary Dunn welcomed the group and First Lady Wolf offered some encouraging words.
“We are grateful for the hard work of Outdoor Corps members here at historic Point State Park,” Dunn said. “DCNR is proud of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps and the work its members do protecting, restoring, and enhancing the outdoors across the commonwealth. Each year, hundreds of diverse young people, such as our crew at Point State Park, complete critical projects that teach important job skills as well as the importance of being good stewards of our natural resources.”
Since 2016, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps has offered work experience, job training, and environmental educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects on Pennsylvania’s public lands. The program provides learning opportunities in resource management, environmental issues and topics, recreation skills, and social and emotional learning. Outdoor corps members participate in hands-on projects in local and state parks, as well as other public lands such as trail restoration, habitat enhancement, tree planting, light construction, shoreline restorations, invasive species management, and other specialty projects related to recreation and conservation. To date, the Corps has trained over 750 15- to 25-year-olds.
First Lady Wolf and Secretary Dunn spoke with members from an adult Outdoor Corps crew, as well as Pittsburgh’s Outdoor Corps ASL-inclusive youth crew. They shared their experiences with the program, what they hoped to learn from it, and future aspirations in outdoor recreation and conservation.
“I am truly impressed by the Outdoor Corps and how it’s engaging all of our young people,” said First Lady Wolf. “The Administration has made it a priority to include Pennsylvanians of all ethnicities, backgrounds and abilities in its efforts, and this is another example of that thoughtfulness. I commend this group for their hard work in making our parks and forests ready and inviting for all.”
To explore Pennsylvania’s outdoors further or to learn more about the Wolf Administration’s outdoor initiatives like the Outdoor Corps, visit the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website. For more information about Riverlife, visit their website.
Photos from today’s event will be available on PAcast.