Merski, Harkins: Nearly $600,000 awarded to boost Erie attractions

Will fund zoo expansion, snowmobile trail equipment

ERIE, Dec. 30 – New grants totaling nearly $600,000 will enhance area attractions by funding improvements to the Erie Zoo and equipment for maintaining snowmobile trails, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources includes $500,000 to the Erie Zoological Society for rehabilitation and construction of a giraffe exhibit with public viewing structures and related improvements.

“The grant to the zoo will help fund construction of a unique exhibit that is part of the zoo’s efforts to expand its ‘Wild Open Spaces,’ where visitors can observe animals in their natural habitat,” Merski said. “The improvements will expand the zoo’s capacity, increase tourism revenue, and help educate visitors about wildlife and conservation.”

Other funding includes nearly $100,000 to three snowmobile organizations for purchase of equipment needed to construct and maintain trails.

“Erie is an all-season destination, with miles of trails for winter recreation,” Harkins said. “Some of the grants awarded today will fund equipment needed for construction, maintenance and grooming of nearly 120 miles of snowmobile trails to ensure the sport remains safe and enjoyable for residents and visitors.”

The snowmobile grants include $38,200 to Wales Sno-Drifters, $27,600 to Presque Isle Snowmobile Club, Inc., and $27,200 to McKean Area Snowmobile Club, Inc.

All the grant funding is administered by DCNR through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program. The “C2P2” program funds projects such as planning, acquisition and development of public parks and recreation areas, motorized and non-motorized trails, river conservation and access, and conservation of open space.

More information about the grants awarded today is available here, and more information about the C2P2 program is available at