DCNR cuts benign, says spokesman

Less doesn’t necessarily add up to less.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) received a substantially smaller appropriation in the state budget than it did last year, but that doesn’t mean it has less money to work with.

The budget passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 30, allotted only about $30 million to DCNR.

The figure represents an approximately $22.7 million, or 43.1 percent, cut from last year, largely driven by a just over $20 million drop in state park operations funding.Other changes in appropriations included an approximately $3.2 million cut from state forests operations and a just under $1.8 million cut, the entire 2012-13 appropriation, in forest pest management funds.

However, most of that money is being made up for elsewhere.

“It was made up for from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund,” DCNR Press Secretary Chris Novak said. “Our budget is about level from last year.”

The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Lease Fund is made up of revenue generated from lease sales, rents and royalties from oil and gas production on state forest lands.

State Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, agreed with the assessment.

“Some of the money (cut) for the state parks, they’re actually getting,” according to Rapp. “The state forests are receiving more money now.”

According to Novak, the state appropriation only makes up a portion of DCNR’s funding anyway.

“Our total budget is about $300 million, so we have funding from a lot of different sources,” she said. “Any park or forest officers will probably not see a change due to the general fund cut.”