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Recreation for all.

Featured Project: Sharing Untold Stories of Pennsylvania Parks and Forests

What stories get told about Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests? DCNR is supporting a project to discover, interpret, and share “Untold Stories” of underrepresented and marginalized groups associated with lands now operating as state parks and forests.
Last month, the project published a story about a former integrated community on what is now Laurel Ridge State Park.
Known by several names including the Brown Farm, the Mountain, and the Laurel Hill Settlement, the community dated back to at least the 1820’s and included Black, White, and Indigenous residents.
A new series of story maps reveals tales of this community as told through its historical context, land use, and women.
“The Laurel Hill Settlement has a lot to tell us about how this unique community adapted to life on the Pennsylvania frontier, life on the mountain, and life in America,” the story map reads.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy led this Untold Stories project, with more stories to come. Indiana University of Pennsylvania professors and students performed much of the research.
Other key partners included the Heinz History Center, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, and the Seneca Nation.
Funding for the project came from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
black and white aerial photo of the Brown Farm, circa 1939, shows open fields and scattered buildings surrounded forests
1939 aerial view of the Brown Farm

2024 Trail, River of the Year Announced

mountain biker takes a sharp turn on a forested trail at the Trails at Jakes Rocks
A wide landscape of the Allegheny River surrounded by forested hills under a deep blue sky
DCNR recently announced the winners of the 2024 Pennsylvania Trail and River of the Year.
The Trails at Jakes Rocks (TAJR) received the Trail of the Year designation.
TAJR is a 35-mile natural surface trail system in the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County. The trails are used primarily for mountain biking, but other types of recreation such as hiking, trail running, and cross-country skiing also occur.
“The impact that the Trails at Jakes Rocks has made on Warren County has far surpassed our expectations,” said Jim Decker, President and CEO of the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry.
Another western Pennsylvania destination, the Allegheny River, won the River of the Year.
The Allegheny starts as a stream in Potter County before winding 325 miles through western New York and Pennsylvania. It is one of Pittsburgh’s famous “three rivers,” where it joins the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River.
“We are looking forward to everything we are able to do this year to promote all the wonderful resources the Allegheny River provides,” said Jess Friss, Director of Community Programs at Three Rivers Waterkeeper.

BRC Welcomes Brandon Hoover

Brandon Hoover portrait photo
DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation (BRC) welcomes Brandon Hoover to the team! Brandon joins BRC as the new Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) Specialist.
Brandon previously worked at Messiah University, where he served as Director of Sustainability for eight years.
Brandon is an avid cyclist, riding and racing along with his family. He also coaches middle and high school students for the West Shore Composite mountain bike team.

Grant Application Tip

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The DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program is accepting applications through 4:00 PM on Wednesday, April 3. In each e-news leading up to the deadline, we’ll share a tip to increase your chances of a successful application.
This issue’s tip: In your application, make sure you reference Pennsylvania’s latest Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan.
One application question asks you to identify up to three actions in the plan that your project will advance. Make sure you list three for the best chance at full points.
You can find the actions on pages 85-91 of the plan. The plan has 70 actions, so odds are a few will pair well with your project.
Also make sure you are using the current plan. The cover should have the dates “2020-2024.”
For applicants requesting trail funding, be sure to reference actions in the 2020-2024 Pennsylvania Land and Water Trail Network Strategic Plan.

Dates to Remember

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