ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Presque Isle State Park is a top destination, bringing in more than 4-million visitors a year. It’s unique weather challenges including storms, erosion and high lake water levels are the reason that the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources chose to make it stop number one on the annual state climate and sustainability tour. The department sees those challenges as opportunities to work on green stewardship and sustainability for all those visitors.
Presque Isle is the first state park to adopt a site-specific climate change plan.
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a new Climate and Sustainability plan during her visit to the park on Monday, promising that will take the park to net zero energy.
The park will add a 280kW solar canopy array over the parking lot at Beach 8. It will save DCNR $30,000 on electricity annually while producing enough energy to power 25 average American homes. It will also reduce the park’s carbon footprint by more than 211,000 pounds a year, which is the equivalent of removing 20 passenger cars from the road each year.
According to the DCNR Secretary, Presque Isle State Park is already a model for others because of its outlook. “The leaders here at Presque Isle and the partners have really stepped up and asked to become a model and they’ve asked for a solar array here at Beach 8 that will both shield the cars and the shade them but provide solar electricity to make the park net zero,” Secretary Dunn said.
Three public electric vehicle charging stations at Beach 8 will also be added, as well as a plugin hybrid minivan and electric motorcycle for Presque Isle’s vehicle fleet.
Some of the existing improvements include:
- Rain gardens at Beach 8
- Shoreline enhancements to protect infrastructure
- Purchase of property to the south of the park, including a portion of the badly eroding Scott Run
- Modifications to the park’s wastewater system
- Installation of extensions to the floating dock pilings in the marina to account for higher water levels
DCNR staff finalized the plan for Presque Isle in summer 2020 and started implementing changes to address immediate needs.
Net zero energy is the use of energy conservation, efficiency and on-site renewable generation to account for 100 percent of energy usage.
Park Operations Manager Matt Greene said having a site-specific plans will ensure that the conversations about mitigation and solutions happen all year long, not only when there are storms or high lake level issues. “So with a plan in place, that helps us be thinking about the things we need to think about all year round, not just when we have the freakier events or an anomaly year,” Greene said.