Bill forrey PA conservation figure

William Forrey

March 11, ___ -

The extensive state park system that Pennsylvania is blessed to have owes its thanks to many people, one of whom is William (Bill) Forrey. Bill’s role in state parks took off after being appointed to the newly created position of chief of the State Park Planning Section in 1961. Then in 1964, he was promoted to the position of assistant state park director, followed by a promotion to the director of state parks in 1973, where he worked under Secretary Doc Goddard until he retired in 1979. 

When Project 70 and Project 500 were passed by the legislature to provide funds for new state parks, including Ohiopyle, Codorus, Ridley Creek, Moraine, MK Goddard, and Lackawanna, among others, Bill was there by Doc Goddard’s and Conrad Lickel’s sides to achieve the vision of having a state park within 25 miles of every citizen in Pennsylvania.  During that same time, three environmental education centers were added to the state park system, and other programs were initiated, including the 800 number for park information, the state parks magazine, volunteers in the parks, natural resource management plans, and frequent training programs for state parks’ staff.

Under Bill’s leadership, the Pennsylvania state parks system won their first National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal in 1979. Bill has personally received several honors related to his work; he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Penn State, was named conservationist of the year by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, and was a recipient of The Pugsley Medal, a national honor recognizing twentieth century champions of parks and conservation.

Bill retired from the park system in early 1993, but remains committed to promoting outdoor recreation and conservation. He was one of the champions of the Key 93 funding effort (also known as the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund Act), which provides grant funds to build local parks. He served as president of the National State Park Directors Association and president of the National Society of Park Resources for NRPA. He is chair of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Government Affairs Committee and serves on the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council. Bill also serves as an adjunct professor for the recreation program at York College, and was the winner of the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation’s prestigious Cliff Jones Keystone Legacy Award in 2010.