In response to an industry that didn’t pay their taxes and left Pennsylvania’s forests naked once their natural resources were depleted, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania created its first state park in 1893. No, the industry that was responsible for clear cutting most of Pennsylvania’s forests wasn’t the natural gas industry. The resource extraction industry that was ultimately responsible for creating Pennsylvania’s 67 state park system was the timber and logging industry, which littered the Commonwealth with over 30,000 sawmills in the years following the Civil War. After years of trying to get federal aid to preserve Valley Forge National Park, Democratic Governor Robert Pattison was able to secure state funding to turn George Washington’s encampment into Pennsylvania’s first state park. The idea of having state parks was a bipartisan idea, and in Governor Samuel Pennypacker’s farewell speech, he said this:
That camp ground upon hills and the Valley Creek twenty-three miles from Philadelphia. . .better than any other field in the country typifies and represents the fortitude and resolution which made the Revolutionary War successful. The State ought to maintain it forever as one of the most cherished possessions. Every American and especially every Pennsylvanian ought to go to Valley Forge as the saints of Mohammed went to Mecca.
Pennsylvania’s modern day state park system came into its own in the 1950’s when Maurice Goddard set out to put one state park 25 miles away from every Pennsylvanian and under Goddard, the state added 45 state parks.
Moving forward to today, Governor Corbett is reversing 100 years of history and tradition by allowing a resource extraction industry, which was the ultimate reason for the creation of the state park system, to extract natural gas from state park lands. In response to Governor Corbett’s unilateral decision to give the natural gas industry one more going away gift and to fill a billion dollar revenue deficit in the upcoming budget, environmentalists and everyday Pennsylvanians are using social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter to send Governor Corbett a message and to show who uses our parks. Their message is simple: “Don’t frack our Parks.” And the Twitter hashtag they’re using is #FrackFreeParks. Lets hope these people will use more than clicktivism to change our legislators minds.
Photos from the Frack Free Parks Tumblr Page: