As more people enjoyed outdoor activities amid the coronavirus pandemic, locations like Linn Run State Park in Westmoreland County, Pa., were busier than ever during spring, summer and fall 2020.  

Which means Corey Snyder has rarely been busier. Or happier.

The director of the Linn Run State Park Complex – which also includes the nearby Laurel Summit  and Laurel Mountain state parks – began his job in June. He graduated from Cal U in 2002 with his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation management and in 2004 with a master’s degree in geography.  

Snyder spent five years as manager of the Memorial Lake State Park Complex in Lebanon County, and three years as manager of Tyler State Park. The U.S. Army veteran served with the infantry from 2006 to 2010, including a deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009.

Now Snyder oversees 612 acres of state park at Linn Run, 493 at Laurel Mountain and six at Laurel Summit.

“My role is to provide for the safety of our patrons as much as we look after the natural resources,” he says.  

“Park attendance in the commonwealth this year was way, way up, because we were open when many things were closed or canceled. We’ve had visitors come in droves, and it has been a positive to take out of the (pandemic) situation that more people are experiencing the beauty of our state parks.”

There have been challenges, but Snyder embraced those, too, with a small but ambitious paid staff and a crew of volunteers, all of whom are essential to park operations.

“The impact from more visitors has been a challenge – for instance, we had to clean more often – but that’s what we’re here for,” he says. “Our patrons have been very understanding, and it has been a team effort all the way around.

“People often ask how much it costs to get into state parks, and the answer is, it’s absolutely free. It’s a wonderful natural resource for everyone to enjoy."