Larry Williamson truly understands the connection between nature and quality of life. He has worked hard to assist communities and conservation partners to improve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians. In the last 37 years, we have all benefited from his dedicated service.
Currently serving as Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), he has been responsible for, among many things, launching and managing the Growing Greener II Program.
As Deputy, Larry has been one of the principal architects of DCNR’s Land Conservation Strategy, a complex initiative to bring together the bureaus of DCNR, as well as local government and nonprofit partners, to establish geographical focus areas for land conservation activities and grants throughout the Commonwealth.
Prior to his current DCNR role, Larry served as the Director of the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation for twenty years with the Bureau, overseeing grant and technical assistance programs. Under Larry’s leadership, DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation has funded over 8,000 conservation, recreation and heritage preservation projects totaling close to half a billion dollars. The credibility and value of this program has been validated four times by Governors, the legislature and the citizens of Pennsylvania through the passage of four funding initiatives over the years – the Recreational Improvement and Rehabilitation Act, Keystone 93, Growing Greener I and Growing Greener II.
Larry was the primary leader behind the creation of the Pennsylvania Greenways Program in 1998, which provided a powerful framework and vision for much of the trails and open space planning that has taken place since that time.
He also launched the Pennsylvania Heritage Parks Program (PHPP) in 1989, which is a multi-faceted regional strategy to protect historical and cultural resources and to promote heritage for tourism development. The program has been an effective tool to strengthen regional economies through increased tourism, creation of new jobs, and new investment opportunities.
“Larry was the Silent Spring that mobilized many and implemented much – a greener Pennsylvania which will benefit many generations to come,” explains Phil Wallis, PALTA President and President of the Keystone Conservation Trust. “His dedication and success in creating a greener, healthier Commonwealth over several decades is extraordinary.”
“Larry Williamson embodies the true nature of government service to the communities and people of Pennsylvania,” adds DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis, “His tireless work to bring recreation and conservation into people’s lives is a model for me and all of us in DCNR.”
Larry was honored on Saturday, May 12 2007 at the 5th Annual Land Conservation Conference in State College in the presence of land trust and conservation colleagues. Pennsylvania Land Trust Association President Phil Wallis presented Larry with the Lifetime Leadership Award.
On behalf of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the land trust community, we thank Larry for his remarkable life of service to the environment and for being an exemplary contributor to land preservation efforts in Pennsylvania.
Each year, PALTA honors an individual who has demonstrated decades of leadership and dedication in conserving our special places and landscapes. Larry Williamson has always been known as a person who gets close to his work, working tirelessly for long hours, and going above and beyond what is needed. This type of inspiring dedication and commitment to land conservation encapsulates precisely what this award represents.