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Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources

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Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources
General information
Office Type:  Nonpartisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $52,723,000
Term limits:  None
Authority:  Pennsylvania Constitution, Article IV, Section 1
Selection Method:  Appointed by Governor
Current Officeholder

Ellen Ferretti.jpg
Name:  Ellen Ferretti
Assumed office:  June 13, 2013
Compensation:  $139,250
Other Pennsylvania Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources is a state executive position in the Pennsylvania state government. The secretary is the head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, an office created in 1995 to maintain and preserve state parks and forest lands.

Current officeholder

The current acting officeholder is Ellen Ferretti. She assumed the position when Richard Allan resigned on June 13, 2013. Ferretti was serving as was serving as deputy secretary for parks and forestry at the time. Gov. Tom Corbett (R), who appointed Allan in 2011, asked for his resignation due to Allan's use of a racial epithet in an email.[1][2]

The email exchange, which took place May 3, 2013, was between Allan and his wife Patricia, who was then working at the Department of Environmental Protection. His wife wrote in an email that her co-worker, who is black, was showing her "true colors." Allan answered with a single word, "COLORS," in all caps with exclamation points. After finding out about the exchange, the co-worker filed a complaint.[3]


Though the state constitution does not specifically create the office of Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources, it does allow for the addition of public officers in Article IV, Section 1:

All officers, whose selection is not provided for in this Constitution, shall be elected or appointed as may be directed by law.


There are no specific qualifications for the Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources.


The Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources is appointed. The Governor nominates a candidate to the state senate, and the senate confirms the nominee by a two-thirds majority before the candidate takes the oath of office.


Article IV, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants the governor the power to appoint officers to fill vacancies. In the event of a vacancy in the office, the governor nominates a successor. This nomination must be made to the commonwealth senate within 90 days of the vacancy. The senate must then take action (confirming or not confirming the nomination) within 25 legislative days.[4]


The secretary is responsible for the oversight of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The primary duties of the department are:

  • maintaining and preserving Pennsylvania's 117 state parks
  • managing 2.1 million acres of state forest land
  • providing information on Pennsylvania's ecological and geological resources
  • establishing community conservation partnerships to benefit rivers, trailways, greenways, local parks, regional parks, and open spaces[5]


Click here to view a larger-scale image of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Organizational Chart as of January 28, 2013.

DCNR houses eight bureaus and a separate office that manages the Wild Resource Conservation Program.

State parks

Pennsylvania boasts 117 state parks that cover approximately 295,000 acres. The State Parks Bureau manages the operation of the parks, providing recreational and educational opportunities for the more than 36 million annual park visitors.


The Forestry Bureau manages the 2.1 million acres of "Penn's Woods," the namesake of the commonwealth. The bureau works to provide recreational and education programming, forest fire and pest prevention, and protect the thousands of plant and animal species that make a home in the state forests.

Topographic & Geologic Survey

The Topographic & Geologic Survey Bureau maps and provides information about geographic and topographic features throughout the commonwealth. The staff also disseminate information and date pertaining to water, gas and oil wells, and other underground resources.

Recreation & Conservation

Through the Recreation & Conservation Bureau, the department awards monetary grants to local communities for programs that work to conserve the commonwealth's natural and cultural resources. The bureau also manages 12 heritage sites.

Facility Design & Construction

The Facility Design & Construction Bureau works to maintain the infrastructure of state parks and forests. Staff engineers design and manage projects to build and improve bridges, water and sewage systems, swimming pools, beach areas, and dams.

Conservation Science

The Office of Conservation Science manages several collaborative programs to support the mission of the department, identify emerging environmental issues, and educate Pennsylvania residents about sustainable practices.

Human Resources

The Human Resources Bureau provides personnel management for the department.

Administrative Services

The Administrative Services Bureau provides administrative support to the department.

State budget

The budget for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Fiscal Year 2012-2013 was $52,723,000.[6]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers


In 2012, the secretary was paid an estimated $139,250. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources was paid an estimated $132,934 according to the Council of State Governments.[7]

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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Contact information

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Rachel Carson State Office Building
PO Box 8767
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8767
Email links for specific questions
Contact information for the Bureaus of the Department

See also

External links

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