Citizens Have And Continue To Shape Pennsylvania State Parks
Citizens Have And Continue To Shape Pennsylvania State Parks
A bull elk looks at the camera and raises its head which supports two very large antlers. Text: resource DCNR
Newsletter of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
November 13, 2019
Three people stand by an informational sign at the edge of a lake wit ha view of mountains in the background. One person is looking through binoculars.
Featured in Our Good Natured Blog
Citizens Have And Continue To Shape Pennsylvania State Parks
From one state park in 1893, to 121 state parks in 2015, DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks has blossomed into one of the largest state park systems in the eastern United States -- comprising nearly 300,000 acres statewide.
Thanks to the work of inspired leaders and concerned citizens, these public natural places have turned the once “Pennsylvania Desert” -- from the boom of coal and lumber industries after the Civil War -- into a forest wonderland.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, the number of state parks grew from 50 to 111 as part of a goal of locating a state park within 25 miles of every citizen in Pennsylvania.
In the 1980s, an ongoing effort was started to improve park facilities and to support environmental education and interpretation.
In the early 1990s, State Parks 2000 was the initiative that helped guide the modernization of state parks. This strategic planning effort called for:
  • The modernization of facilities
  • Expanding environmental education program offerings
  • Designating natural areas in parks to better protect sensitive or special natural resources
Now, 25 years later, DCNR is undergoing another planning process to guide the agency in caring for state parks for the next 25 years. Read more...
Cindy Dunn speaks to a small crowd of people in front of a pedestrian underpass. People are dressed in hats and coats.
DCNR Tours Proposed Trail Area in Johnstown, Discusses Infrastructure Needs in Cambria County
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Johnstown and Cambria County officials on a walking tour of a proposed section of the Path of the Flood Trail/September 11th National Memorial Trail.
“Both the Path of the Flood Trail and September 11th National Memorial Trail share much in common; they are learning tools, serving as benchmarks in our state’s history,” Dunn said.
“Development and expansion of these efforts require multi-pronged, concerted efforts to succeed. They also need the sustained financing that only Restore Pennsylvania can provide.”
Walking an area off Route 271, Dunn, civic and trail leaders traced a proposed trail connection from the existing Path of the Flood Trail into downtown Johnstown.
The trail project would be implemented as part of the Johnstown Connectivity Study, which includes the September 11th National Memorial Trail. Read more
Steve Wacker wears an orange DCNR ball cap, a green DCNR forestry jack while standing in the woods with trees behind him.
DCNR Names New Manager of William Penn State Forest District
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the appointment of Stephen E. Wacker, former assistant district forester of Tuscarora State Forest District, to the district forester position at William Penn State Forest District in southeastern Pennsylvania.
From headquarters in Elverson, Chester County, Wacker will oversee operations in a district that includes nine counties: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia.
“The district is involved with many important projects -- both interesting and challenging. I will miss working in the Tuscarora Forest I have grown to know and love, but I will also have the privilege of getting to know many new unique and special places, and the people that love them,” Wacker said.
“I look forward to sharing with others what I learn about William Penn State Forest.” Read more
Sarah Presogna stands in the woods wearing binoculars and holds a luna moth in her left hand
Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Sarah Presogna is the Environmental Education Specialist Supervisor at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center in Berks County. Her love for the outdoors allows her to enjoy her job and be passionate in teaching others about the natural world.
Sarah began working for DCNR in the fall of 2016 at French Creek State Park after completing a season at the neighboring Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site. She joined the team at Nolde Forest in May of this year.
Sarah’s current career path began when she received a work study stipend in college. Instead of working at the cafeteria or the campus library, the University of Pittsburgh had agreements with local cultural institutions to accept student workers.
Through classes and her work in the botany and education departments of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Sarah found that she had a passion for teaching non-formal environmental and outdoor education.
Sarah took an internship in the education department of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and worked there after graduation until she moved to eastern Pennsylvania to study horticulture.
After a year of work at the Morris Arboretum, it was clear to her that her interests lied more with outdoor education than landscape design and horticulture (although she still loves plants).
In Sarah’s opinion, indifference is the greatest enemy when it comes to the outdoors and conservation.
“I’m certain few people actively go out of their way to harm the environment and fight against outdoor protections,” she says, “but if everyone who didn’t think much about their impacts or their local ecosystems became invigorated and came together, I think there would be a sea change for the better.”
The duties of an Environmental Education Specialist Supervisor are varied, which Sarah says suites her.
“One day I might be leading a preschool walk where we look for and sort autumn leaves by color. Another day I might be assisting a group of citizen scientists with water chemistry data collection streamside.”
Environmental education is a year-round job for Sarah. In the spring and fall, the center serves many school groups coming to the forest for learning experiences and engages the local community through weekend programming for various age ranges.
In the winter, she and staff go into the local underserved school districts and provide in-class lessons and field trips for their students.
“But no matter the group,” she says, “I help individuals make a deeper connection to the natural world around them by serving as a guide to what may be a new experience.”
Sarah points to her college mentors, but also her parents as inspiration. She says, “they always made a point to share their passion with me, even from a young age. They taught me many things I am teaching now.”
Her favorite part of the job?
“That it still fills me with wonder and excitement every day, because you never know what you might experience,” Sarah says. “Perhaps I’ll find a hummingbird nest with a group of students…a quiet moment on a trail when a fawn crosses in front of me. This job will always remind you why you are doing the work you do, and I am grateful to never feel complacent.”
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

Text on an image of a river lined with green trees. Text: 2020 PA River of the Year Nominations Now being Accepted Apply by Friday, November 15, 2019
Only a Few Days Left to Nominate River of the Year
Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations are reminded to submit nominations for the 2020 River of the Year by Friday, November 15, at 5:00 P.M.
Selected nominations will then be voted on by the public beginning in late November.
After a waterway is chosen as River of the Year, local groups implement a year‐round slate of activities and events to celebrate the river, including a River of the Year Sojourn.
The nominating organization of the winning river will receive a $10,000 leadership grant to help fund their River of the Year activities.
DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers annually announce a River of the Year to raise awareness of the recreational, ecological, and historical resources related to Pennsylvania’s waterways.
A trail is seen covered in thick ice with icicles hanging from the side of a hill.
Ricketts Glen Falls Trail Closed for the Season Due to Icy Conditions
Once again, due to cold temperatures creating icy conditions on the trail, the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park is closed as of Friday, November 8, 2019.
Only properly equipped hikers with ice crampons, ice ax, and rope will be allowed on the trail at this time. This is the minimum amount of equipment required to be allowed on the trail.
All hikers must sign in and out at the park office. If you are starting your hike from the Rt. 118 parking lot, you may call the park office at 570-477-5675 to sign in and out.
The trail will be closed from now until the end of the ice season, usually sometime in mid-April.
Three rows of teenage boys and girls sit on a picnic table under a pavillion wearing blue and green PA Outdoor Corps shirts.
Discovering Nature and Public Service in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps
One of the goals of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is to provide young people with the passion and knowledge to be good stewards of our natural resources, especially to those who have had little or no exposure to our natural places.
This past summer, the PA Outdoor Corps gave a love of nature to someone that had never experienced it before.
John Jimenez, a Hazleton youth crew member, shares his story of how he came to appreciate the natural world around him because he got the opportunity to work in state parks and forests.
TreeVitalize Accepting Applications for Bare Root Tree Program
The new TreeVitalize Bare Root Tree program aims to assist communities in Pennsylvania with increasing the tree canopy and commitment to urban and community forests.
This program provides up to 20 large caliper bare root trees for planting on land owned by a municipality (streets and parks) or non-profit organizations.
This program is specifically designed for those communities who were not awarded funding through the 2020 competitive TreeVitalize grant program -- previous grantees are welcome to apply.
Likewise, communities in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties are not eligible to apply; but are encouraged to inquire about funding through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy or the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Preliminary applications are available through TreePennsylvania’s website and are due by Tuesday, December 10, 2019. Approved applicants will be notified of additional deadlines.
An aerial winter view of Bald Eagle State Forest. Mountains are seen with snow and evergreen trees. A creek carves through a valley.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Protects 265 Acres Near Bald Eagle State Forest
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced the protection of 265 acres of forests and steep mountain ridgeline in Haines Township, Centre County.
The property was immediately transferred to DCNR to become an addition to the 193,000-acre Bald Eagle State Forest.
Located an hour northeast of State College near Ingleby, Pa., this land is a key property adjacent to existing state forest; and adds to the public lands in the area that include Bald Eagle State Forest and Poe Valley and Poe Paddy state parks.
The property includes nearly a mile of forested frontage on Penns Creek, a cold-water limestone wilderness stream, and a tributary to the Susquehanna River.
The creek also is designated a Class A Wild Trout Stream that provides anglers the opportunity to fish wild trout. In addition, a one-mile section of abandoned railroad grade along the creek is located on this property.
“This transfer of land by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to Bald Eagle should be valued by all who hike its trails, fish its waters, and hunt its woodlands,” says DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.
Dumping is a serious problem in many rural and forested areas of the state -- especially in Pennsylvania state parks in forests. It is illegal and hazardous to the environment!
It is important to know how to dispose of hazardous and solid waste properly. Many counties offer programs or drop off days to help recycle these materials -- often at no cost to their residents.
Learn about some of the environmental impacts and resources for recycling and disposal:
  • Household hazardous wastes are items such as old paint, pesticides, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, propane tanks, and more. if carelessly disposed of, they can create environmental and public health hazards. Learn about ways to recycle and properly dispose of household hazardous waste.

  • Used motor oil and tires. Used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. Tires can leach harmful, carcinogenic chemicals into the environment. They also provide a breeding ground for mosquitos, which can carry many serious diseases that can affect humans and animals alike. Learn more about disposing motor oil. Learn more about properly disposing of tires.

  • Electronics such as computers, monitors, televisions, audio equipment, phones and more contain a variety of toxic and hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, beryllium, and brominated flame retardants which can be release into the air or seep into groundwater if not properly disposed of. Learn about electronics collection programs.
Check out the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website for more recycling and disposal resources.
The days are getting shorter, the holidays are approaching fast, and the stress of the holiday season may be creeping up on you.
Take a breath of fresh air and unwind at one of the upcoming events at Pennsylvania state parks:
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Beginning Bird ID and Walk -- Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center (10:00 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.)
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Guided Nature Hike -- Ridley Creek State Park (10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.)
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Thanksgiving Campfire Cooking Demonstration -- Cowans Gap State Park (10:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.)
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Camp Presque Isle -- Presque Isle State Park (11:00 A.M. - 12:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Owls -- Black Moshannon State Park (1:00 P.M. - 2:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, November 16 -- Wild for Waterfowl -- Lackawanna State Park (2:30 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.)
  • Sunday, November 17 -- Discovery Hike -- Prince Gallitzin State Park (12:00 P.M.)
  • Friday, November 22 -- Winter Walk -- Gifford Pinchot State Park (1:00 P.M. - 2:30 P.M.)
  • Saturday, November 23 -- Morning Bird Walk -- Prince Gallitzin State Park (8:00 A.M.)
  • Sunday, November 24 -- Fire Making Workshop -- Raccoon Creek State Park (10:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.)

Featured Photo

An elk stands alone in a frosty field with the sun hanging low in the sky behind clouds.
Elk, like this one spotted in Elk State Forest, are Pennsylvania’s largest big game species. They are well adapted to handle the cold winter months that are approaching.
A dense underlayer of fur, covered over by longer guard hairs help to trap air against the body of the elk, providing an insulating effect. This insulation is so good, the snow that lands on them won’t even melt!
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