If you've traveled less than an hour to get to a Pennsylvania state park, thank Maurice Goddard.
On second thought, you're too late -- the man responsible for a state park being located within about 25 miles of every Pennsylvanian died in 1995.
But last week, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation unveiled a state historical marker honoring the former Secretary of Forests and Waters and founding secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources.
During his time in office, 1955-1979, Goddard successfully pushed for the addition of 45 parks and 130,000 acres of park land in Pennsylvania, including Maurice Goddard State Park in Mercer County, which bears his name. The rapid expansion of the state park system earned national recognition at the time. This year the Pennsylvania state park system was awarded the highest honor by two park monitoring organizations.
The historical marker was unveiled in Harrisburg at the Rachel Carson State Office, headquarters of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Protection.
"It is fitting that the first Historical Marker honoring Dr. Goddard be erected here," said Marci Mowery, president of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, at the plaque dedication ceremony. "Maurice Goddard professionalized park and forest staffing via the civil service program, one of what Goddard considered his greatest accomplishments."
Goddard is also credited with the state's managing of natural water sources on a watershed scale, establishing a dedicated funding source for natural resource conservation, and influence in the formation of the Delaware River Basin Commission and Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
DCNR deputy secretary Cindy Dunn said Goddard's vision of land preservation for public use remains an inspiration.
" 'Doc' Goddard, whom I was very fortunate to know personally, was a true visionary, advancing conservation and recreation for all Pennsylvanian's at a time of extreme challenges, she said. "As conservationists, we face very similar challenges and opportunities today, and can draw inspiration and wisdom from Maurice Goddard."
John Hayes: 412-263-1991, firstname.lastname@example.org .