Here are some commonly available native plants to bring life to your yard.
Here are some commonly available native plants to bring life to your yard.
Nature, outdoors, flower. DCNR Logo. Text: resource
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
April 6, 2022
Outdoors, nature, park, trees, flowers, garden, road, mountain, lake
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
Bring Life to Your Yard with Native Plants
It’s that time of the year when many of us are waiting for color to show up on nature’s landscape.
We’re thinking about what to plant around our homes and counting down the days until plant nurseries fill up with colorful flowers.
We’re also looking forward to seeing the return and emergence of popular insects and some of the birds we miss during the cold winter months.
This is the season when we enjoy spending time outdoors in our backyards and natural places the most. The sights and sounds of busy happenings in nature abound!
You can bring the best of this time of year to your property by planting native plants. Read more...
Outdoors, person, man, sign. Text on sign: Kings Kap Enviromental Education Center
New Park Manager Named for Kings Gap Environmental Education Center
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the appointment of Gavin Smith to serve as the park manager for Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Cumberland County.
“Gavin’s experience and personality will be a wonderful addition to Kings Gap and the South Mountain community,” Dunn said. “During his time with DCNR, he has demonstrated a commitment to exemplary service and leadership, while helping further the department’s mission. I look forward to seeing his impact at the park.”
Smith will manage the park, which consists of 2,531 acres of forest on South Mountain, with more than 25 miles of hiking trails, a permanent orienteering course, picnicking, hunting, and other recreational and educational opportunities.
Smith then spent 10 years as an assistant manager at Gifford Pinchot State Park before taking over at Kings Gap. Read more
Outdoors, nature, people, road, bridge, gaurd rail, trees, group.
Recovery Funds Could Help with Infrastructure Needs at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County
DCNR visited Shawnee State Park in Bedford County to tour a recently constructed bridge and call attention to the park’s infrastructure needs and how the use of pandemic recovery funds could address outdated facilities and public safety preparedness across the state.
“Maintaining critical infrastructure is essential to providing safe recreation opportunities to our visitors, and the use recovery funds is critical in addressing infrastructure needs of our state forests and state parks throughout the state,” Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
Though the $732,000 bridge project was recently completed at Shawnee, DCNR is still responsible for maintaining 963 bridges, 148 of which are rated to be in poor condition.
Nearby Blue Knob State Park, which is a part of the Shawnee/Blue Knob State Park Complex, needs repairs for aging waterlines and has a $2 million backlog for maintenance, including replacing the park office and maintenance building. Read more
Outdoors, nature, water, camper, truck, trees, creek, rocks, campground, park, road.
State Park Campsites Open for Trout Season
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn encouraged anglers to consider using state park campsites for overnight fishing trips.
“It is important that the public is aware of the wonderful opportunities for fishing and camping at our state parks,” Dunn said. “We are proud to support outdoor recreation efforts on public lands and look forward to seeing a great turnout this year as people continue to turn to the outdoors for their health and wellbeing.”
DCNR has opened additional campsites to accommodate the trout season to help expand the outdoor experience. There are 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, and thousands of lakes and ponds in Pennsylvania.
Much of this abundant freshwater wealth is found within our state parks and state forests -- 101 state parks and 20 state forests permit fishing with the proper fishing license. Read more
Person, woman, outdoors, nature, plants, forest, trees, water
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Hope Mroczka is an administrative assistant for Weiser State Forest and an integral part of the district’s wildfire response.
During wildfires, Hope coordinates district resources and warden’s crews to respond among many other duties.
Hope says as a dispatcher, it is very important to be in constant communication with all your resources.
“I’ve parked a vehicle outside our office window with the radio on so I could hear our recon plane’s reports when the office radio couldn’t pick up the communication,” she says. “You need to think outside the box and just make things happen!”
She also keeps dispatch logs, acquires and tracks resources from incident to incident for reporting purposes, and updates and reports many facets of information related to any particular wildfire -- like weather and communication issues.
Hope accomplishes these tasks all while multitasking many other administrative assistant duties.
For Hope, fire response is a way of life. After 36 years as a volunteer firefighter, she joined DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry. Here, she was able to continue using the knowledge she had acquired while being an asset to the commonwealth as well as her local community.
Hope was able to gain a wealth of experience dealing with incidents (most often wildfires), including assisting state and federal partners during large wildfires out of state.
She is especially important to the statewide wildland fire program because she is adept at her role in finance in relation to DCNR’s Type III Incident Management Team.
Hope’s roll within the command and general staff on DCNR’s Blue Incident Management Team is the primary Finance Section Chief. As such, she is the go-to person when it comes to all things finance-related during any emerging incident.
Hope’s attention to detail is bar-none. She can sift through the countless finance documents and organize the information into reports and briefings useful to her fellow team members, as well as agency administrators.
“The knowledge gained from my out-of-state assignments came full circle back to being an asset to the state of Pennsylvania on our own Incident Management Team,” Hope says. “I find it an honor and privilege to be a part of the fire community that is much bigger than most people realize.”
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

Nature, outdoors, grass, leaves, ground, insect, bug, wings
Eleven Counties Added to Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has announced that the department has added 11 counties to Pennsylvania’s quarantine zone for the spotted lanternfly.
There are now 45 counties quarantined. The new counties added include:
  • Adams
  • Armstrong
  • Bedford
  • Centre
  • Fulton
  • Indiana
  • Lycoming
  • Mercer
  • Snyder
  • Union
  • Washington
Known lanternfly infestations are not widespread in the newly quarantined counties, but in scattered municipalities shown on the department’s detailed online map.
For more information on spotted lanternflies, visit the Department of Agriculture website.
Bat, animal, outdoors, nature, tree, bark
Learn about Bat Conservation Collaborations
Join the Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance of Climbers, Climbers for Bat Conservation, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and DCNR representatives to chat about bats in Pennsylvania.
The virtual panel will be held Monday, April 11 at 7:00 P.M. Register online to attend.
  • Panelists will include:
  • Rob Schorr, Zoologist, Colorado State University
  • Director of Climbers for Bat Conservation, Dr. Shawn Davis, Slippery Rock University
  • Pennsylvania Game Commission and DCNR representatives
Learn how collaborations among climbers, wildlife biologists, and land managers can help manage, conserve, and protect our bat population.
Participation in Private Water Well Focus Group Needed
If you own a private well and have access to a computer or phone, the Pennsylvania Department of Health invites you to participate in a focus group.
The Division of Environmental Health Epidemiology at the department is hosting two virtual focus groups on Tuesday, April 26, from 11:00 A.M. until noon, and Wednesday, April 27, from 5:00 P.M. until 6:00 P.M., to learn more about private well water use in Pennsylvania.
Department staff will be asking open-ended questions about how private well owners use their water, their safety-related concerns, treatment methods, and resources they use often.
Please send an email to if you would like to participate. Please indicate which date and time you would prefer to attend.
A link to join the focus group will be provided via Microsoft Teams.
Wood, logs, trees, outdoors, nature
Discovering Pennsylvania’s Forest Heritage -- Forest Products
The Pennsylvania Forestry Association, in cooperation with the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, is continuing the “Discovering PA’s Forest Heritage” series.
The fifth video in the series highlights the history of the commonwealth’s forest products industry which relies on the harvest of trees from its publicly and privately-owned forests.
The Forest Heritage Discovery Center is normally open for visitation in the summer months. For days and hours of operation, visit the Pa. Forestry Association website or Facebook page.
Fire, smoke, grass, forest, trees. Text: Conservation Tip
Spring is the time when most people begin their yard clean ups. Many will burn downed tree limbs, leaves, and other debris; however, the greatest danger of wildfires in Pennsylvania occurs during the spring months of March, April, and May.
Ninety-nine percent of Pennsylvania wildfires are caused by people, and in most cases, it is from debris burning.
Check out some alternatives to burning debris:
  • Re-use it -- Mulch leaves and twigs with a lawnmower to return nutrients to the grass, and lay mulch in your yard with dried grass or pine needles.
  • Break it down -- Borrow or rent a chipper to break down leaves and branches which also can be used as mulch to retain soil moisture and control weeds.
  • Compost -- Compost grass clippings, leaves, branches, and food scraps in a container or on the ground to break down naturally into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
  • Home for wildlife -- Stack your debris into a strategic pile for wildlife habitat -- birds, small mammals, and other wildlife store food in brush piles and use them for shelter.
  • Spread it around -- If you have wooded property past your lawn, you can spread leaves and branches around on the ground in those areas as well.
Outdoors, nature, people, tools, trees. Text: Upcoming Events
Want to help take care of Pennsylvania’s natural places during Earth Month? Give back to your favorite Pennsylvania state parks and forests by volunteering!
Check out some of the upcoming volunteer events across the state:
Check the DCNR calendar of events regularly for additional events, as they are continually being added.

Featured Photo

Nature, outdoors, salamanders, yellow spots, grey skin
Recent warm temperatures brought life to the vernal pools in Michaux State Forest. This is a great time to see spotted salamanders, which mostly spends their time beneath ground level, but also conceals itself in moist areas beneath moss-covered rocks or stones and among piles of leaves or other debris.
Like all salamanders, the spotted salamander is carnivorous. The majority of its hunting is done at night when it seeks to feed on worms, slugs, spiders, and insects.
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