Winter is an exciting time to enjoy the outdoors.
Winter is an exciting time to enjoy the outdoors.
Tall, straight trucked trees grow in rows with a trail leading through them. Text: resource
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
January 20, 2021
Snow covers the ground, plants, trees, a person uses snowshoes and walking poles to travel down a path. A lake and mountain are in the distance.
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
State Parks and Forests Offer Abundance of Activities During Winter Months
With many people still limiting their indoor activities due to COVID-19, Pennsylvania state parks and forests continue to offer access to activities -- even during the winter months.
A lot of people don’t think about spending time outdoors in winter due to the colder temperatures; but with proper clothing and other safety precautions, there are plenty of benefits to spending some time outdoors now.
What makes winter recreation special? The scenery! The bare trees and vegetation in forests help make spotting wildlife easier, provide additional scenery from vistas, and uncover the vast rock formations that make up Pennsylvania’s varied natural landscapes.
The scenery is also quite spectacular when Pennsylvania’s natural places are covered in snow!
“There is a wonder in the winter season that can’t be matched at other times of the year, and our parks and forests offer great outdoor adventures and breathtaking views for those who brave the cold,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
You also don’t have to travel far to enjoy the health benefits of exercise and fresh air in the winter. Pennsylvanians are fortunate that with so many state and local parks and forests they can find an opportunity near them.
The winter season provides opportunities for activities that cannot be enjoyed year-round. Take advantage of some of these unique outdoor recreation opportunities. Read more
A paved path is used by bikers and walkers, it is lined with small trees, grass strips and benches. A contained river flows by under an overpass bridge.
Grants Available to Assist Communities with Parks, Recreation, and Conservation
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced that grant applications are now being accepted for recreation and conservation projects in communities across Pennsylvania.
“This COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of parks, forests, and trails to our mental and physical health as demonstrated by the significant increase in their use, even now during the cold months,” Dunn said. “Our DCNR grants can assist communities with local park acquisition and improvements, trails, and river access that are so critically in demand.”
For the first time this year, climate resiliency will be included in the criteria used to review grant applications. Grantees are asked to explain how their project implements sustainable and climate resilient adaptations and/or mitigations.
Grant applications must be submitted by 4:00 P.M. on Wednesday, April 14. Read more
People ride bikes across a wood trail bridge with trees and foliage surrounding the trail.
D&H Rail Trail Named 2021 Trail of The Year
DCNR has announced the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail (D&H Rail Trail) has been named as Pennsylvania’s Trail of the Year.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Pennsylvania visitors and residents are heading outside for healthy and safe recreation opportunities, the D&H Rail Trail has been a gem of Northeast Pennsylvania. It provides users near and far the opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful parts of the commonwealth, learn about the region history and engage in healthy activities,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.
The 38-mile long D&H Rail Trail extends through Lackawanna, Susquehanna, and Wayne counties; and traces the former corridor of the Delaware & Hudson Railway, which primarily carried anthracite coal out of the Lackawanna Valley during the second half of the 19th century.
The trail welcomes motorized and non-motorized users, including walkers, bikers, equestrians, as well as snowmobilers. Read more
A man with dark hair and beard wears a tan DCNR uniform with a name bage and patches, stands in front of some trees and shrubs.
New Manager Appointed at Beltzville State Park
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the appointment of Ben Monk as manager of Beltzville State Park, Carbon County.
Monk will oversee 2,972 acres developed around Beltzville Dam, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project.
“Ben honed a combination of keen administrative skills and field experience at Ohiopyle, among our busiest and most popular state parks,” said Dunn, “and these qualifications can only enhance the experience at Beltzville for its increasingly large number of park visitors.”
Monk, 37, a native of Hopwood, Fayette County, holds a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation management from California University of Pennsylvania.
Attaining the rank of specialist, he served six years with the U.S. Army’s Military Police and was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Monk replaces Alma Jacobs, who was named assistant manager of the French Creek State Park Complex, based in Berks County. Read more
DCNR Acquires Tract Adjoining Presque Isle State Park
An 18.45-acre property adjoining Presque Isle State Park and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center has been acquired by DCNR.
Since 2002, DCNR shared a vision of a greenway along the eastern side of Peninsula Drive from West Sixth Street to Presque Isle State Park.
“Acquisitions like this take hard work, dedication, and cooperation among many of our partners in Erie. To that end, the department appreciates the support and efforts of our external partners in this lengthy process,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Presque Isle State Park is one of the most visited parks in the system; this acquisition will help conserve the Scott Run corridor as well as enhance the visitor experience.”
This project will advance plans to restore the property to a natural environment, and as an appropriate gateway to Presque Isle State Park. Additionally, important greenway development, visitor connections, and environmental issue mitigation will be attained and made through this acquisition. Read more
A man stands with arms crossed wearing a face mask and sunglasses.
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Joe Graci is a former DCNR Director of Legislative Affairs who spent many years significantly involved in legislation that affected conservation and recreation in Pennsylvania.
Joe worked at DCNR for more than 25 years; and was the first DCNR employee when he started with the agency on July 1, 1995 -- the date the agency was established in statute.
“It was a bit surreal at the beginning,” says Joe. “I sat alone in the corner of the 15th floor of the Rachel Carson Building, where DCNR's executive staff was first housed. Eventually, additional staff filled in the office space over the next few weeks and months.”
Joe started as the agency’s legislative liaison, then served as the Director of Legislative Affairs, and finished as the agency’s special projects coordinator, where he worked on budget issues, special fund projects, and historical projects.
Joe was responsible for advancing the policy interests of DCNR and its partner organizations in Pennsylvania.
By reading through a myriad of legislation introduced by the General Assembly in Harrisburg, he would determine if any impacted DCNR positively or negatively.
“The main goals I had while working at DCNR were to protect the agency from legislation or programs that would negatively impact our operations or finances, and getting legislative proposals passed that benefited the agency,” said Joe.
One such proposal was Growing Greener 2 -- a voter-approved plan that invested $625 million to clean up rivers and streams; protect natural areas, open spaces, and working farms; and support programs to improve quality of life and revitalize communities across the Pennsylvania.
While many people think of muddy boots, cutting invasive species, and planting trees, Joe’s conservation work was a bit different. He educated the members and staff of the General Assembly on what DCNR does as an agency to protect the environment and conserve the many natural resources of the commonwealth.
“I witnessed many changes at DCNR through my 25 plus years of employment,” Joes says. “I experienced six different secretaries, all with different personalities, styles of management, and differing goals and visions for the agency moving forward. We always had DCNR’s best interests in mind, and it was a great ride!”
Joe is from Harrisburg and currently resides in Camp Hill with his wife and two sons who are avid campers and hikers. 
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

Beltzville State Park Hosts Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing Clinic
In an attempt to contain the recent rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Carbon County, a free, drive-through testing clinic will be held at Beltzville State Park, beginning Wednesday, January 20, through Sunday, January 24.
Testing will be offered from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., just inside the main entrance of Beltzville State Park, 2950 Pohopocco Drive, Lehighton.
Free to all, testing is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Patients must be ages 3 and older and are not required to show symptoms of COVID-19 in order to be tested. Up to 450 patients can be tested per day.
Mid-nasal passage swab PCR tests will be performed. Patients are encouraged to bring a photo-ID or insurance card. Registration also will be completed on-site. The turnaround time for testing results is two to seven days after testing.
A wood building with metal roof and radio tower in a clearing of tall trees. A car sits in the small parking lot outside.
Economic Impact Spotlight: State Parks and Forests -- Economic Drivers in Rural Areas
Pennsylvania’s state parks and forestlands draw more than people. They draw jobs. Lots of jobs.
Just ask employees of the Berlin-based Darr Construction Co. Or, perhaps, workers with Leiblod Inc. in Pottsville, or K&K Plumbing Co. in Johnstown, or Keystone Lime Co. in Fort Hill.
Together, they produced a new maintenance building and ranger station in Forbes State Forest that is the envy of state forest districts across the state.
Forbes State Forest Assistant Manager Don Stiffler, who oversaw construction of what may well be the highest office in Pennsylvania, had only praise for those with whom he worked on the site in the Mt. Davis Natural Area on the highest mountain in Pennsylvania. Read more
Many cars are parked in a parking lot in front of a building, with cars on the grass. Small trees and shrubs are planted among the cars.
Next CNRAC Meeting to Include Historic Visitation Numbers and PA Wilds Spotlight
The historic visitation numbers of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests will be a topic for the next Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council (CNRAC) public meeting, Wednesday, January 27, at 10:00 A.M.
DCNR's State Parks Director John Hallas and State Forester Ellen Shultzabarger will discuss the challenges and opportunities of sustained increased usage in state parks and forests in the coming months and years. Results from a Lion Poll survey on usage of outdoor recreation interest during the pandemic also will be presented.
Also joining the meeting will be Ta Enos, CEO of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, and DCNR's Conservation Landscape Program Director Meredith Hill for an overview of the Pennsylvania Wilds, highlighting the significant economic impact of outdoor recreation on this area of Pennsylvania.
DCNR received notice last year that the Maryland Air National Guard is proposing to establish low-level (down to 100 feet above ground level) training flyovers over a portion of the Pennsylvania Wilds. CNRAC anticipates reviewing and commenting on the National Guard’s Environmental Assessment on this proposed project when it is released in early 2021.
Due to COVID-19, the Wednesday, January 27, public meeting will be held virtually via WebEx. To attend the public meeting, please register.
There will be an opportunity for public comment at the end of the meeting. If you are interested in presenting comments at the meeting, please advise Katrina Harris by email no later than 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 26, so you can be added as an active participant. Comments or questions can be submitted after the meeting by emailing the same address or through the council’s web page.
Statewide Virtual Photo Exhibit to Document Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Experience
First Lady Frances Wolf announced One Lens: Sharing Our Common Views, a statewide virtual photo exhibit she is launching to document the story of Pennsylvania throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exhibit will celebrate the hard work and commitment of all Pennsylvanians as we continue our fight against COVID-19.
By using photography as the medium to tell these stories, One Lens also emphasizes using art as a tool for Pennsylvanians to cope and to heal. The exhibit covers three themes:
  • Our Heroes, paying homage to the pandemic heroes who cannot stay home
  • Our Lives, looking at how we spend our time when no one is watching
  • Our Communities, showcasing Pennsylvanians uniting in the face of a global health crisis
The photo submission period will open on Monday, February 8, 2021, and remain open until Monday, March 8, 2021. The full exhibit will be released on Friday, March 19, 2021.
One Lens highlights the importance of preserving history by encouraging Pennsylvanians to share their experiences during COVID-19 through photography. The submitted images will be displayed for public viewing and saved as visual documentation of the pandemic.
Close up of ice crystals. Text: Conservation Tip
As cold weather sets in, it becomes harder to heat and keep your home comfortable. It’s easy to see why energy use and utility bills skyrocket during the coldest months of the year.
Here are some easy, efficient ways to help maintain more heat in your home while going easy on the energy use:
  • Use blinds or curtains for strategic insulation -- Leaving your south-facing windows uncovered during sunny days can help collect heat. Northern-facing windows can be left covered day and night all winter for maximum insulation.

  • Raise your humidity -- Winter air is often dry, especially indoors. Not only do we feel colder in dry air but adding some moisture will allow your indoor air to retain heat longer. Using a humidifier can help with chapped lips, dry skin, and keep you feeling warmer.

  • Keep your boiler toasty -- Simply wrapping a water heater blanket around your water heater can save energy.

  • Make some open space -- Keep objects from blocking heaters and radiators and air ducts. Clearing the airways in your home allows you to heat the space more efficiently.
An owl on the ground with brown feathers and dark stripes looks up while surrounded by leaves and rocks. Text. Upcoming Events
If the winter weather has got you down, brighten up your day with a state parks program!
Check out these virtual and self-guided activities from state parks:
Check the DCNR calendar of events for additional virtual events in state parks and forests.

Featured Video

A man stands at a picnic bench under a pavilion wearing a winter jacket, and hiking gear. Text says Dress in layers. A play symbol in on the image.
Start the new year off right with a hike! Pennsylvania stateparks and forests are open for fresh air and close-to-home, healthy exercise.
Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and comfortable on the trails.

Twitter Facebook Instagram YouTube
powered by emma