Hess Raises Concern About Open Swimming Policy at State Parks
Rep. Dick Hess (R-Bedford/Fulton) today voiced concern about the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) new policy that allows open swimming at lakes in state parks throughout Pennsylvania, except Presque Isle State Park in Erie.
“Permitting visitors to swim without a lifeguard on duty is a grave concern of mine as a representative of the people,” Hess said. “Removing lifeguards from a swimming area could potentially lead to drownings and accidents that could otherwise be prevented with a lifeguard on duty.”
A statement by the DCNR indicated that beaches will continue to be patrolled and monitored by state park staff and that instructions and regulations will be posted. Individuals are advised to swim at their own risk, and parents are encouraged to be vigilant with their children.
“Although the staff is dedicated and are hard-working employees, I am concerned that their occasional patrolling will not provide enough protection,” Hess said. “It is important that a lifeguard be on duty during public swimming hours.”
State parks in the 78th District that will be affected include Shawnee State Park in Bedford County and Cowans Gap State Park in Fulton County.
“I urge my constituents and those visiting a state park to play it safe while swimming in a lake,” Hess said. 
He also noted that eliminating lifeguards also reduces the number of available jobs that were typically filled by high school or college students.
“This arrangement was a win-win for both visitors and students,” Hess said. “Providing safety while earning a paycheck provided a significant benefit to all.”
Hess said that he hopes DCNR will reconsider its position and ensure that all swimming areas are staffed with necessary personnel.
“If this is a way to cut costs, it is bad policy,” Hess said. “Creating an opportunity for visitors to get hurt or be in danger sends a bad message.”
Rep. Dick Hess
78th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

(814) 623-9097
(717) 787-7076
Contact: Tim Eller
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 260-6242
Member site: DickHess.com