Celebrating five years of connecting PA youth to conservation.
Celebrating five years of connecting PA youth to conservation.
A semi frozen lake reflects a mountain and rolling hills with snow around the banks of the lake. Text: resource
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
December 23, 2020
A group of people stand and work outside with long handled hand tools while wearing headhats and blue shirts.
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
Looking Back on Five Years of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps
In 2016, a new program -- the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps -- was created to provide work experience, job training, and environmental experiences to young people.
If you like to spend time in our state parks and forests, you may have seen them -- a group of blue t-shirts and yellow hardhats cutting new trails, painting structures, and much more.
Following in the footsteps of other programs like the Youth Conservation Corps and the Civilian Conservation Corps, this group has made a lasting impact on public lands.
Their many accomplishments do not come without challenges, and this year was no exception.
Members and administrators rose to the challenge and continued the important work benefiting communities around the state despite the pandemic. Read more...
A tall, outdoor christmas tree made of strings of lights is illuminated at night.
Tree of Lights at Point State Park Will Return in 2021
DCNR and Duquesne Light Company (DLC) have heard the people of Pittsburgh and agreed the existing “Tree of Lights” at Point State Park will return to its original location in 2021.
“DCNR State Parks and Duquesne Light will be working closely together starting in 2021 to design the necessary upgrades to the tree for energy efficiency, long term structural sustainability, and state park resource protection,” said Bureau of State Parks Director John Hallas.
Point State Park and DLC will work together to try to find a solution to design a new tree of similar size at the same location that would be more energy-efficient, and lighten the impact that the set-up, take-down and appropriate methods of securing the tree into the ground have on the important archeological area and other aspects of the park. Read more
Trees are reflected in a river flowing by rocky banks.
Voting Underway for Pennsylvania’s 2021 River of the Year
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the public is invited to again vote online for the 2021 Pennsylvania River of the Year, choosing from among five waterways nominated throughout the state.
“Never has the value of our wealth of waterways shined brighter than during this pandemic as people in unprecedented numbers are being drawn to Pennsylvania’s river and streams and the natural refuge they supply,” Dunn said. “Much more than a public vote gauging popularity, this annual competition builds community support around our rivers and streams, putting them in the public limelight. All have truly unique attributes, offer incredible recreational opportunities, and offer significant boosts to local economies.”
The public can vote for a favorite state waterway through 5:00 P.M. Friday, January 22, 2021. Read more
A man stands with arms crossed wearing a face mask and sunglasses.
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Noel Schneeberger is a DCNR conservation volunteer who donates his time to monitoring and assessing the health of Pennsylvania’s state forests.
Noel’s early years were spent in scouting which honed his skills and interest in the outdoors.
Regular fishing trips with his father off the Jersey shore and in northwestern New Jersey stalking elusive “brookies” left a permanent mark on him in terms of the kind of training and career he wanted to pursue.
Forest health is simply a condition in which forests and trees are robust, resilient, and contribute at their best to the ecosystems in which they exist and the resources and services they provide.
For much of recent history, our forests and trees in Pennsylvania have been under assault from a list of non-native insects and pathogens that seems endless.
Gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, emerald ash borer, sirex wood wasp, oak wilt, beech bark disease -- and most recently spotted lanternfly -- are some of the threats facing our forests today.
Active management and intervention are necessary to protect the health of our forests and trees from such invasive pests.
For Noel, it’s fulfilling work that needs to be done. “The work is an investment in the present and the future,” he says. “It permits me to contribute towards maintaining healthy forest and tree resources in Penn’s Woods.”
This past year, Noel’s volunteer work has mainly focused on monitoring hemlock woolly adelgid.
This sucking insect pest attacks the Pennsylvania state tree -- the Eastern hemlock -- causing dieback and decline and eventually death.
Through insecticide treatments to protect high-value hemlocks in unique locations and release of biological control agents, the goal is to protect the valuable hemlock resource in the state.
Eastern hemlock is a foundation species, which means it creates and maintains a habitat that supports other species.
“If you have fished for native trout in a cold-water stream within a hemlock stand, you understand how such a place would be irreversibly changed if the hemlock trees were eliminated by hemlock woolly adelgid,” Noel says.
This invasive management and other projects are specifically addressed within the Bureau of Forestry’s State Forest Resource Management Plan which describes how the long-term health of state forest lands is maintained and enhanced through management, monitoring, and prevention.
Noel says it’s very easy to get involved if you are interested in helping your local forests. A great place to start is any municipal, township, county, or state land near you and ask how you might become involved as a volunteer.
“There is a great need for help and resources to manage and sustain the health of our forest and tree resources here in Pennsylvania,” Noel says. “Volunteers play an important role in providing some of that help. The work is personally rewarding and fun.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at ra-resource@pa.gov to nominate someone.

Also in the News

Surveillance Cameras Catch Illegal Dumping; Up 212 Percent in 2020
Cameras installed through the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Illegal Dump Free PA Surveillance Camera Loan Program recently captured a couple illegally dumping a couch in Michaux State Forest in Franklin County.
They were cited for illegal dumping; and were each ordered to pay a $150 fine plus court fees and perform ten hours of community service.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful currently has 10 sets of cameras at various dumping hot spots and recycling facilities across the state.
In 2020, the number of illegal dumps reported increased by a huge 212 percent over last year.
The increase in dumping could be a result of temporary suspension of trash hauling, recycling services, and special collections of electronics, tires, and appliances in the spring and early summer due to the COVID pandemic.
Illegal dumping not only encourages more dumping and is damaging to the environment; but it brings a financial burden to our local municipalities, as they are often the ones left to clean up the mess.
Large, white, rectangular boulders stick out amonst trees with fall color leaves.
Three New Sites Added to DCNR’s Trail of Geology Guids
The Trail of Geology just got a bit longer. And more interesting.
Three new sites have been added to the series of publications and guides created by DCNR’s Bureau of Geological Survey to guide and connect visitors to the geology of our parks and forests. New sites are:
  • Cornwall mines in Lebanon County -- The Cornwall mines operated from 1732 to 1973, and during many of those years was the largest mine in America.
  • Baughman Rock in Fayette County -- From the rock, one can see the Youghiogheny River, Ohiopyle gorge, Victoria Bend, and more.
  • Jumonville Glen rocks in Fayette County -- An illustrated summary about the role of the Burgoon Sandstone in the first military battle in the French and Indian War.
The Bureau of Geological Survey created the guides for the geologic explorer in all of us.
The guides consist of nontechnical booklets and papers describing the geology of selected Pennsylvania parks, trails (land and water), and points of interest.
If a Trail of Geology publication exists for a state park or forest, you can find a link to the publication on the individual state park or forest pages.
Infographic with satellite map of fields and trees. Text says: Meadows at Martins Creek Acquisition 47 acres
Grant Spotlight: Lower Mount Bethel Township Expands Outdoor Recreation Access
Residents of Lower Mount Bethel and Washington Townships in Northampton County have a new place to enjoy the outdoors thanks in part to a DCNR grant.
Lower Mount Bethel Township purchased the 74-acre Meadows at Martins Creek, thanks to a DCNR contribution toward the purchase of 47 of those acres.
“The Meadows at Martins Creek is the result of cooperative effort on the part of state, county, and local funding sources,” says John Mauser, a member of Lower Mount Bethel Township’s Board of Supervisors. “Partnerships such as this are crucial for communities like Lower Mount Bethel Township to continue to preserve open space.”
The property supports passive recreation such as hiking, birdwatching, and fishing on Martins Creek -- a designated Class A Wild Trout Stream. It also helps implement the vision of the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape, a partnership to conserve and connect ribbons of green in the Lehigh Valley.
The acquired land provides close-to-home outdoor recreation for a part of Northampton County that lacked it, according to an analysis of recreation need in Pennsylvania done by the Trust for Public Land.
Light comes through the canopy of a forest.
Webinar Series to Help Landowners Care for Their Woods
Do you have woods in your backyard? The Woods in Your Backyard webinar series teaches land stewardship through nine live (one-hour), online evening lectures -- designed specifically (but not exclusively) for landowners with 10 or less acres.
If you own land that is wooded, have natural areas, are interested in creating new natural areas, and you would like to create wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and enhance aesthetics, then you should join the Penn State Extension for this informative webinar series!
Sessions run from 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. on Wednesday nights for nine weeks, beginning Wednesday, January 27. The deadline for registration is Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
All lectures are recorded and can be viewed later if a live session is missed. Topics covered in the webinars include:
  • Why Backyard Woods are Important
  • Importance of Woods to Healthy Watersheds
  • Trees and Shrubs for Different Sites and Objectives
  • Providing and Enhancing Wildlife Habitat
  • Forest Ecology and Woodlot Management Techniques
  • Invasive Plant Identification and Control
  • Converting Open Land to Meadows and Woods
  • Healthy Woods: Common Insects and Diseases
  • Getting Started: Mapping Out Your Plan
For more information and to register, visit the Penn State Extension website or call 877-345-0691.
Two white tailed deer stand in a grassy field with some shrubs nearby.
New Report Details Coordinated Effort to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease and How Hunters Can Help
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has released a report (PDF) detailing coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies and Pennsylvania research institutions to combat chronic wasting disease (CWD), a contagious, fatal disease that threatens deer.
The report offers advice hunters and others can follow to minimize risks, and links to key disease-prevention resources.
“As a member of the CWD Task Force, the DCNR is committed to working with other agencies and stakeholders to combat the spread of CWD through public education and outreach, effective deer management strategies, increased testing and other public policy initiatives based on sound science,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Although there is still work to be done, DCNR applauds the administration’s leadership and efforts of the collective agencies to prevent the further spread of this disease.”
DCNR has created a Chronic Wasting Disease in State Forests fact sheet (PDF) to provide additional information.
Additional resources and information about chronic wasting disease for hunters is available at the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pa. Department of Agriculture websites.
A cardinal bird sits on a branch surrounded by red blossoms.
Pennsylvania Envirothon Launches Free Environmental Education App
Pennsylvania Envirothon -- a statewide competition that educates high school students in natural resources and environmental sciences -- and PSECU have launched a free, educational app.
The Pennsylvania Envirothon app encourages users to learn about topics including soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and environmental issues; and browse a feed of natural resource information -- all while experiencing Pennsylvania’s outdoors.
Features of the app include:
  • Links to Envirothon station training references
  • Guides to identifying trees, fish, wildlife, and more
  • Audio and photo files for identifying birds and their songs; as well as frog and toad calls
  • Quizzing options to test lessons learned
  • Information about digital-first sponsor PSECU
The Pennsylvania Envirothon app is available for download for both Android and Apple devices.
A person rides a snowmobile wit htrees in the backround.
Winter Snowmobile Update for Allegheny National Forest
With the opening of snowmobile season, Allegheny National Forest would like to inform all winter recreationalists about several important changes in snowmobile use for the 2020-2021 winter season:
  • Forest Road 262 (Longhouse Scenic Byway) will be closed to snowmobile use this winter. In addition, FR 141 will be closed at FR 262 to snowmobile use. These closures are the result of road construction on FR 262 this winter.
  • The Willow Creek Snowmobile Club has worked with the Bradford City Water Authority, Collins Pine Company, and Pine Acres Country Club to secure 19 miles of new club trails adjacent to the forest. These trails will be opening this season and are accessible from trail 1A.
  • Please be aware that maintained snowmobile trails will not be groomed until there is a significant amount of snow on the ground.
Trail condition reports will begin when adequate snow is received. Updated twice weekly, or when conditions warrant, snowmobile trail conditions are available on the Allegheny National Forest website.
A snow covered road in a forest with tire tracks on the ground. Snow sticks to all the trees and shrubs. Text: Winter Safety Tip
Stay Safe on State Forest Roads This Winter
Pennsylvania state forests are popular for winter recreation enthusiasts; and we would like to remind everyone to be safe when traveling state forest roads in winter conditions.
For economic, logistic, and environmental reasons, many state forest roads and drivable trails receive no winter maintenance and are considered “travel at own risk.” Visitors must use extreme caution; and are reminded that many state forest roads have limited or no cell phone service.
Always check road advisories before heading out to a state forest in any season, which can be found on each state forest's web page and:
  • Operate only 4-wheel (or all wheel) drive vehicles with elevated ground clearance
  • Drive slowly in winter conditions, especially on steeper descent
  • Leave travel plan details with family/friends and plan for contingencies
  • Keep state forest map, matches, flashlight, cell phone, food, water, tire chains, and sleeping bag in vehicle during winter travel
  • Avoid state forest roads when advised
  • Be prepared to call towing/removal service if you become stuck and need assistance
Snow covered trees line the shore of a lake. Text: Upcoming Events
Looking to spice up your state park visit with a holiday scavenger hunt or self-guided hike?
Check out these virtual and self-guided programs from state parks to connect with the natural world over the holidays:
Check the DCNR calendar of events for additional virtual events in state parks and forests.

Featured Photo

Trees and snow are reflected in a lake with snow all around the banks.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, and peaceful holiday and new year!

Twitter Facebook Instagram YouTube
powered by emma