My active participation at Adams-Ricci Park started when I was appointed to the township recreation board in 1998, after many years of coaching youth sports. By then, we had a community park with a few sports fields, pavilions, and courts. It was a good base, but we needed to grow the park to meet the needs of a rapidly growing community. Two major expansions increased the park to 125 acres and incorporated more sports fields, a great system of walking paths, and pavilions.
With a master plan in place, efforts turned to a capital campaign to generate funding for the development of the park. With donations from its citizens, businesses, and civic organizations, combined with a matching grant from the Keystone Fund, groundbreaking got underway in 2009.
Latimore Township is predominantly a rural, agricultural area, and the preservation of open, green spaces has been one of the supervisors’ primary goals while in office. The township park is part of that larger plan of caring for the natural environment because it protects a large green space from unwanted development while still providing for public use. Supervisor Woody Myers has taken great care to plant more trees, shrubs, and flowers around the park and has installed several bird houses along the walking trail.
I am a yoga teacher, and I lead yoga walks at Wildwood. The combination of walking and yoga in a natural environment can result in a very special experience! I enjoy introducing people to Wildwood through the yoga walks, and I believe everyone needs to connect with nature for a healthier lifestyle. Leading the meditation at the end of the yoga walks is my favorite part of the activity. Everyone seems so much more at peace!
My personal connection with Thousand Steps stems from many years ago when my parents took me there are a child. As an adult, it was one of the first places that I brought my wife when we were dating and she was new to the area. Now, later in life, I continue to bring my children, friends, and family on hikes there. Currently I enjoy running the trails in the area, and Thousand Steps is a great place to begin or finish a long run.
We followed the Hawk Trail, marked by orange bird silhouettes, and reached the top within 20 minutes or so, including the inevitable stops to inspect a wandering bug or interesting leaf. The trail is steep and rocky which was a fun change from the gentler nature trails my kids are used to, but the short distance kept the hike very do-able.
The Ghost Town Trail proved to be an invaluable resource for my running partners and me as we trained for the 2016 Chicago Marathon. We utilized various sections of the trail based on our training plan requirements. For speed work, we started in Ebensburg and ran downhill to Nanty Glo. Short recovery runs on Ebensburg’s crushed gravel sections helped keep our legs healthy. For distance runs, we took advantage of the Vitondale station for parking and water stops. The heat, humidity, and dew point were a brutal mix for 20-mile runs; Vitondale’s resources were much appreciated.
Breeding cerulean warblers tend to cluster together; a handful of such clusters occur in Pennsylvania. One of these is along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River in south-central Pennsylvania, where Blair and Huntingdon counties meet. Fortunately, for monitoring these birds, the Lower (rhymes with flower) Trail, a 16.5 mile-long rail-trail, is adjacent to the river there and provides an ideal way to count them.
The state-of-the-art facility supports one of the largest regions of hunters, plus law enforcement and shooting competitors from Pennsylvania and other states. It is also available for campers and other visitors to the state forest. The area has a strong hunting and target shooting history, as well as a legacy of training future generations on proper gun handling and respect for the outdoors. The range provides an important space for this training.
I use the Chambersburg section of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail several times a week, mostly for recreation. I am an avid runner. One of the reasons I chose to live in downtown Chambersburg was because of the quick access to the rail trail, which is just steps away from my house.
The Capital Area Greenbelt in Harrisburg has been our favorite fall and winter riding area. We ride mostly at night, with good illumination from the great lights that are available. The group rides range from five to 15 people. What a joy it is to see 10 or more riders doing these rides.
The Bedford Heritage Trail, which opened in September 2015, connects the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa to downtown Bedford. The trail has made a big impact on our community in many ways. It is a very popular venue for local walkers and joggers. It has increased the number of Omni Bedford Springs Resort guests who visit downtown. It has opened up the Resort’s rustic trail system to local hikers and mountain bikers. It has provided a safe way for bicyclists to avoid a narrow and dangerous section of State Route 220. It has added an amenity to our town that people reference with pride.
The 21-acre Island Park, nestled between the Schuylkill River and the Reading and Blue Mountain Railroads, is Schuylkill Haven’s only remaining open recreational space. Before the flood, the area accommodated a few softball and soccer fields. The community had considered improvements to the park over the years. But the flood damage forced them to start from scratch.
Standing on the white rocky cliffs along the Appalachian Trail, one is rewarded for the uphill hike with a breathtaking panoramic view of farms and forest. Once threatened by development, 850 acres of forested ridgeline are now permanently protected. Their preservation safeguards an unbroken forest habitat, amazing geological formations, and a place to take in stunning views.
Fortunately, ClearWater Conservancy worked with numerous partners and received a Keystone Fund grant to fund the acquisition of the land. In preserving Musser Gap, ClearWater not only protected an important habitat for golden eagles and other wildlife, but also helped to safeguard the drinking water for more than 40,000 residents in the State College region.
Planning for the Hanover Trolley Trail began in earnest in 2009 when Keystone Fund grants helped bring together the York County Rail Trail Authority and local officials to examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the development of the trail on the former trolley line.
When the canal system became obsolete in the late 1850s, the canal basin was deserted, and eventually a portion was drained and filled with cinders. Later it became a utility company’s junkyard, littered with creosote-soaked poles. Support from the Keystone Fund enabled officials, community members, and local organizations to join forces to restore the canal basin, reclaiming the historical asset and turning it into a popular park. The Hollidaysburg Women’s Club played an integral role in the project.
West Penn Park in York City received a make-over and new equipment as part of a multi-phase plan to improve the park and offer new activities for the City residents. Originally designed by William Penn, the park has hosted Revolutionary War camps and a Civil War hospital, and was also used as a drop-off point for freed slaves after the Civil War ended.
Residents of all ages need places in the community to enjoy, and young children are no exception. Alexandria, a small borough in Huntingdon County, needed to replace its antiquated and unsafe playground equipment in the community’s only park. With Keystone funding, the borough was able to provide young residents with a safe place to play that was within walking distance of their homes.
Because of Keystone funds, the 1902 Pomeroy Academia Covered Bridge, the longest remaining covered bridge in Pennsylvania, continues to be a cherished landmark. The timber frame structure, stone piers, abutments and wingwalls of the bridge were rehabilitated utilizing Keystone funding along with the addition of a small park. The bridge is now open to all pedestrians.