Gov. Corbett said Wednesday that the state was investing $31.5 million in conservation and recreation projects, including $202,000 going to Montgomery County for improvements to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park.

At a news conference in the park, a pristine area in the shadow of a Toll Bros. housing development, the commerce-heavy Route 422 corridor, and the twin towers of the Limerick nuclear power plant, Corbett said it was essential "to preserve spots like this and make them a destination."

The funds will be used to provide better access to the river and fishing for people with disabilities, a canoe/kayak launch, new trails, and a rustic picnic area, signs, plants, and enhanced parking.

The multimillion-dollar investment is designed to protect natural resources and revitalize communities across the state, Corbett said.

An avid kayaker, he said he planned to return to the park sometime for a kayak trip.

Funds for the grant program come from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Keystone Fund, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, the ATV/Snowmobile Fund, and federal sources.

The grants will support a variety of proposals, including 43 trail projects; protecting 3,051 acres of open space; and aiding 122 community parks, 12 river conservation projects, and 41 other regional and statewide initiatives.

The projects include rehabilitating Penn Park, a 15-acre, 269-year-old park in the heart of York; creating a woodland sensory garden and boardwalk in the 74-acre Fischer Park in Towamencin Township; and developing an eco-play area called Camp Olympic in Lower Macungie Township.

Among the trail projects are $2.3 million for motorized trails for the opening of Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Northumberland County, with an expected 200 miles of trails for off-road vehicles, and the acquisition of 1,200 acres for an off-highway vehicle park in Armstrong County.

Contact staff writer Kathy Boccella at 610-313-8123 or kboccella@phillynews.com.