Your editorial attacking the Corbett administration over the resignation of John Norbeck as state parks director ("Abrupt Exit: The State Parks Are Losing a Friend and Protector," Oct. 13) was built around the faulty premise that he was forced out over a difference of opinion about whether to permit gas drilling, commercial timbering and strip mining on state park lands. These inaccuracies could have been prevented had your reporter telephoned for comment about them, but he did not.
Mr. Norbeck knows why he no longer works for the state, and he knows it has absolutely nothing to do with philosophical differences over mineral extraction. For the record, we have no intentions of permitting drilling on state park land. The moratorium on future leasing of state forest lands remains in effect. And we are not engaging in -- nor will we engage in -- commercial timbering and strip mining in our state parks.
We are offended both personally and mathematically by your assertion that Gov. Tom Corbett "gave away the store" by imposing a "less costly" impact fee instead of an extraction tax. A check of your own clips would have shown that Gov. Ed Rendell expected $100 million from a tax. The impact fee has delivered $204 million. This impact fee sets aside money for state parks and forest improvements -- the first infusion of new money into our park system since 2005.
Under Gov. Corbett's leadership, DCNR has overseen the drilling activity authorized by Gov. Rendell on state forest lands to ensure that it does not harm the fabric and character of these natural resource treasures. My own office has appointed professionals to oversee the state's parks and forests and we recognize the tremendous significance of the commonwealth's natural resources and are determined to keep them the envy of any other state.
As secretary, I can assure you that DCNR will continue its stewardship of our public lands according to the high expectations of our citizens. They deserve, and will receive, nothing less.
RICHARD J. ALLAN
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources