Through John’s leadership as President of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and as Secretary of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), over 206,000 acres of land were conserved for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians for all time. These lands represented additions to PA’s state parks, forests and game lands, as well as additions to Allegheny National Forest. Achievement of this magnitude has resulted in a profound and everlasting impact to preserving Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources for future generations.
During John’s presidency of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, over 126,000 acres of land were permanently protected. These projects included the following:
Clarion River conservation project which resulted in the acquisition and protection of approximately 14,000 acres of riverbank land. The acquisition project was focused on a 40-mile stretch, which is now designated as Wild and Scenic under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Clarion today is one of the most significant recreational rivers in Northeastern United States.
As a result of John’s rock-solid commitment to create the first federal wilderness area in Pennsylvania, 9,400 acres of oil, gas and mineral rights were acquired making possible the federal designation of the Hickory Creek Wilderness Area in the Allegheny National Forest.
Acquisition of 12,760 acres of rugged forestland in Clinton and Centre Counties for the creation of State Game Lands 295. The tract lies adjacent to Bald Eagle State Forest and is best known for its wilderness trout stream.
As the first Secretary of DCNR and over his eight years at the helm of DCNR, 80,000 acres of land were protected and added to state parks and forests. Among other notable accomplishments, John led the way for Pennsylvania to become a national leader of sustainable forestry practices through certification of PA’s state forests, enabled the trail and greenway systems in Pennsylvania to flourish and become one of the largest rail-trail systems in the country and made major improvements to community park systems.
John advanced the creation of PA’s Growing Greener Program, which remains the largest single investment in environmental funding in the state. Through this and other grant programs, DCNR’s funding under John’s leadership helped communities and conservation organizations to realize numerous successes in open space protection, rivers conservation, revitalizing community parks and playgrounds, and creating trails and greenways across the state.
Currently, John serves as a natural resource consultant and a visiting lecturer on Natural Resource Policy at Grove City College.
An avid outdoorsman and lover of the natural world, John Oliver has provided a model of enormous achievement and a legacy of conservation of Pennsylvania’s rich natural heritage – our mountains, pastoral valleys, forests, fields, waterways and local greenways – making the Commonwealth a very special place.