Damage to state forest, state parks increased through stay-at-home period

Penn Live Patriot News -From illegal dumping of household trash to offense graffiti on landmark rock formations to intentional damage to infrastructure and the environment, state forests and state parks across Pennsylvania have been taking a beating during the coronavirus pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders.

Confinement orders that allow for socially distanced outdoor recreation in the forests and parks has led to large increases in visitation, which have led to environmental impacts, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“State forests are experiencing higher incidences of vandalism and illegal activity, such as ATV riding on state forest roads, graffiti, dumping of trash and waste, and removal and damage of gates,” the department noted in its weekly Resource newsletter.

“These illegal activities damage the environment and take away from the natural experience and natural beauty that all forest users have the right to enjoy.”

While no overall tally of the damage has been prepared, Terry Brady, press secretary for DCNR, noted, “Incidence of illegal dumping is up across the state in our state forests. That could be attributed to the belief that DCNR is shut down.”

But rangers and forest district staff are still actively patrolling during the COVID-19 outbreak and will issue citations and prosecute those who are engaged in illegal activity on state forest lands.

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