Skip crowded trailheads for some of these lonelier trails.
Skip crowded trailheads for some of these lonelier trails.
resource header image: Tree covered mountain dip down to a lake with clouds in the sky
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
September 16, 2020
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
A women holds a childs hand as they walk down a forest path toward another person and child
A Hike Off the Beaten Path: Lesser-Known State Forest Trails
Pennsylvania’s state forests are a source of great comfort, relaxation, and recreational fun. Now, more than ever, these lands are being utilized for quick outdoor adventures where social distancing comes more naturally.
Some popular locations are being over-visited, often resulting in crowded trailheads, parking areas, and trails.
With 2.2 million acres of state forest land to explore, there is more than enough space to find a place to connect with nature.
To help guide forest users to a place they may not have visited before, DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry has provided a few of the more obscure state forest trails. Read more...
Three people ride bikes down a grassy path in a field
With Record-Setting Use of Outdoors, DCNR Offers Tips for Recreating Responsibly
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn noted that during this difficult time of the pandemic, people have turned to parks, forests, trails, and neighborhood green spaces in record numbers and reminded potential visitors of the things they can do to stay safe.
“With their social lives upended and travel plans cancelled millions of Pennsylvanians are taking to the outdoors for much-needed opportunities to get exercise, relieve stress, and be with loved ones while remaining safe and socially distanced -- but that is key,” Dunn said.
“We are reminding people that they need to find uncrowded areas, have a mask and wear it if they can’t keep their distance, and help us take care of special natural places.”
During May, June, and July, the Pennsylvania state park system saw increases of more than a million visitors each month over the same periods last year, representing monthly visitation increases systemwide of as much as 36 percent, with some parks seeing 50 to 100 percent more visitors. Read more
Andrew leidich stands in front of the Shikellamy State Park sign in a DCNR uniform
DCNR Appoints Manager at Shikellamy State Park Complex
DCNR announced the appointment of Andrew Leidich as manager of the Shikellamy State Park Complex in Union, Northumberland, and Lycoming counties.
Leidich will be based at a state park where the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam forms the 3,060-acre Lake Augusta on the Susquehanna River.
“I always have had a calling to have a career working in the outdoors industry,” said Leidich, “and I can’t feel more excited than to begin my next experience as park manager of Shikellamy State Park Complex.”
A native of Sinking Spring, Berks County, Leidich holds a bachelor’s degree from Mansfield State University of Pennsylvania where he majored in environmental science and minored in geology. Read more
Bill Ritting stands next to his bike on a bridge overlooking a creek.
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Bill Ritting is a registered landscape architect who devotes his time to representing people with disabilities while serving on the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee.
Through his professional work as a landscape architect, Bill has worked on park planning and community-level trail layout projects.
After becoming more involved in advocating for trails and greenspaces, Bill learned of an opportunity at the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee.
The 20-member committee represents various types of trail users in Pennsylvania and includes trail advocates, trail planners, trail builders, and trail managers.
Each year, the committee reviews applications for the Community Conservation Partnerships Program -- providing guidance to DCNR on state and federal trail funding.
When Bill applied to be a member of the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee, he felt, based on his professional background and having cerebral palsy, that he would be a good fit as advocate to represent people with disabilities.
“This became much more,” says Bill. “In an effort to become aware of the obstacles and concerns of those with disabilities, I realized, I didn’t know as much as I initially thought. I’m learning every day.”
Bill has gained a great deal of knowledge about the needs of different trail users and the great recreation resources available in Pennsylvania. Resources that previously had been unknown to him.
“This year, it became extremely important for me to get out on the trails to maintain fitness when my gym was closed due to COVID-19,” Bill points out. “Getting on the trails also helped me retain my sanity and provided socialization (at a distance).”
Bill prefers the fast pace of cycling to hiking or walking; and enjoys spending time on the D&L Trail, the Schuylkill River Trail, the Perkiomen Trail, and other local trails.
Being involved in the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee also has afforded Bill the opportunity to try other modes of recreation as well. He wasn’t an avid trail user, but now he’s always prepared with trail apps, maps, and mileage lists.
“I’ve done ATV riding and have tried e-bikes. I see both of these machines as part of my future, since they are great mobility devices,” he says. “I’ve also learned that I enjoy being a trail advocate. I welcome questions on how I had to “adapt” and use adaptive equipment or strategies to get out on the land-based trails or on the water trails, if that will help someone.”
As a member of the Marlborough Township Park and Recreation Board, Bill viewed first-hand the evolution of how providing access to the Perkiomen Trail was not considered a desirable thing in the community; but is now generally appreciated.
Now, additional trail connections are being planned because the physical, mental, and economical value of the trail has been realized.
“While riding on the D&L Trail earlier this year, near Bethlehem Steel Stacks, I thought how much I would have liked to have had a trail like this near my house while growing up in Philadelphia, says Bill. “The trail is an oasis, right in town -- God’s Country.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at to nominate someone.

Also in the News

Census 2020 Deadline Approaching
The September 30 deadline to complete the 2020 census is fast approaching!
If you haven’t completed your census, please do so before the deadline.
Getting counted in the census means you can help make a difference for conservation, funding, and congressional representation.
Everyone counts. If you live in Pennsylvania, you matter to the census and DCNR’s mission!
Census data is used to decide how much federal spending is given to states based on their population numbers.
DCNR receives around $6 million in federal dollars every year for:
  • Land conservation
  • Community recreation
  • Trails
Responding to the census is simple and safe. Please help us continue our conservation efforts by getting counted. Learn more at the PA Census website.  
Protective tubes with trees sticking out of them lined up in a grassy field
Eight Counties to Add Streamside Buffers to Advance Clean Water Plans
A grant -- by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with matching funds -- will provide nearly $2 million in investments to plant and maintain 360 acres of new trees; and boost efforts in eight Pennsylvania counties toward achieving local plans for cleaner water.
DCNR’s Riparian Forest Buffer Advisory Committee will help coordinate the grant to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“The benefits and values of trees and forests are more critical than ever as our commonwealth faces increasing financial, social, and environmental challenges,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
“This project embodies one of DCNR’s core principles of partnerships, putting into practice the need to work together to solve complex problems. We are delighted for this increased funding and proud to work with this group of committed partners.”
This grant project also will test a new buffer incentive program with simulated property tax relief for each acre of buffer installed. Participating farmers will be surveyed to determine if permanent property tax relief is a meaningful incentive for them to convert crop/pastureland to streamside forested buffers.
Cars lined up on a sunny street
Learn How You Can Drive Electric in Upcoming Webinar
Did you know the number of electric cars registered in Pennsylvania increased 50 percent in 2018, as more drivers seek this zero-emission option for work or personal use?
Learn how you can drive electric. The Drive Electric Pennsylvania Coalition of state agencies and partners will host Amped: The Benefits and Basics of Driving Electric Vehicles, a free webinar series to be held Monday, September 28 - Thursday, October 1, during National Drive Electric Week.
Webinars will be tailored for:
  • Municipal leaders (Monday, September 28 at 11:00 A.M.)
  • Business owners (Tuesday, September 29 at 11:00 A.M.)
  • Consumers (Wednesday, September 30 at 11:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M)
  • Fleet managers (Thursday, October 1 at 1:00 P.M.)
Speakers from around the state will share their knowledge and experiences as experts or new converts to get you as close to driving electric as virtually possible. Register now, and plug into the electric transportation trend. 
DEP Releases 2019 Oil and Gas Annual Report
Natural gas production in Pennsylvania increased while new well drilling decreased in 2019, according to the 2019 Oil and Gas Annual Report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The report also notes improved permit review efficiency. DEP also is exploring new partnerships to address orphan wells, identifying better restoration practices, and developing better ways to manage stormwater on well sites.
DEP and DCNR have begun a field study in the Cornplanter State Forest to measure methane leakage from identified orphan wells. This research will help DEP better estimate methane emissions from the thousands of orphaned and abandoned wells in Pennsylvania.
“We know there are thousands of old, abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, but we don’t know how to quantify the threat these wells pose to our environment, especially from a climate change angle,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “This research will help us put that into perspective and help guide how to prioritize well-plugging in the future.”
Additional information is available at the DEP website.
Many pairs of boots lined up next to each other
Trails month is a time to value and appreciate Pennsylvania’s trails.
By taking the time to practice responsible outdoor ethics, we can ensure that Pennsylvania trail systems remain premier outdoor recreation destinations for generations to come.
Practice these Leave No Trace principles while enjoying Pennsylvania’s trails:
  • Plan ahead and prepare -- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you visit and prepare for extreme weather.

  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces -- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses, or snow. Good campsites are found, not made.

  • Dispose of waste properly -- Pack it in, pack it out. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.

  • Leave what you find -- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.

  • Minimize campfire impacts -- Use a lightweight stove for cooking. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.

  • Respect wildlife -- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.

  • Be considerate of other visitors -- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
People hold shovels and other tools as they complete a project
Saturday, September 26 is National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands.
Love Pennsylvania state parks and forests? Consider volunteering to help conserve our natural public spaces:
Programs will be held under the following conditions:
  • Programs will be restricted to 25 participants or less. Check for registration requirements.
  • Social distancing is required during programs.
  • Participants must have a mask for use when social distancing is not possible.
  • Participants must bring their own hand sanitizer.
Both in-person and virtual events continue to be added. Check the DCNR calendar of events for upcoming public programs in state parks.

Featured Video

Purple loosestrife is a common invasive plant in Pennsylvania. Its flowers are commonly seen along wetlands, stream banks, and other wet areas.
This prolific plant overtakes habitat and out competes native plants -- lowering diversity and preventing native wildlife from getting the nutrition they need.
Learn how to identify and control this invasive plant.
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