Back when my sons were younger and playing Connie Mack and American Legion Baseball, I spent nearly every evening – most of spring, all of summer, and a good way into fall – at the park, sitting in the snack stand of the baseball field. The park is my favorite place to be deep in the fall, when the leaves have changed and everything is all reds and golds and oranges.
In my time at High School Park, I have seen its wildlife diversity and habitat value markedly increase because of this work. Resident birders have reported almost four times the amount of migratory birds using the park now. Fox have been seen roaming the meadow trails and resident hawks are a near-constant presence. This past spring, I spotted a bald eagle in the creek while walking my dog. All this points to greater diversity and better stormwater management in our community.
For a quarter-century, I have been censusing the birds that nest and breed in a 40-acre woods in the Pennypack Preserve. On eight mornings at the end of May and beginning of June, I have awoken at the crack of dawn, wolfed down a quick snack, power-walked 20 minutes to the tract, and then begun censusing. For the next three hours and ten minutes, I have scanned the trees with my binoculars and pricked up my ears to catch the slightest hint of birdsong.
My friends and family frequently ride the trail into Martic and Conestoga townships. Eventually the trail will expand east toward Atglen and west toward Manor Township. My brother Jeff and I ride the trail together, and in the winter months we use the trail to cross-country ski and snowshoe. Every year we see an increase in summer and winter use of the trail. My wife and daughters use the trail on foot as well as wheels, and our family dogs enjoy the trail as much as we do!
When Ambrose and I met, it was such a joy to find out how much he liked being in nature. He started to join the hikes and together we found new areas of Fairmount Park to explore. Now, for meditation hikes, he leads the hike portion. It has been great to collaborate with him in that project and also in life (we recently got married at Valley Green Inn). For us, the parks continue to be a source of rejuvenation: a way for us to connect with nature, and with each other.
My wife Donna and I have been enjoying the beautiful scenery and tranquility of Trexler Preserve in Lehigh County for many years. The numerous walking and hiking trails following the high ridges and along the Jordan Creek are a wonderful place to enjoy nature and provide a good workout, especially with your dog!
I’ve run in a lot of places all over the world, and this trail, right along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, is one of the nicest places to run. It offers many benefits for me and for everybody else in my running club. In fact, it is really a central part of my life in Philadelphia and is a big part of what keeps me happy.
The Schuylkill River, its trail, and all of the tributaries that feed it have been a part of my everyday life for as long as I can remember. As a child, I spent my days on and along the river with my mother and father. Somewhere along the line of my hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and just about anything else you can imagine, I fell in love with the trail and river, and all that they have to offer.
New Hanover Community Park happens to be my favorite park in the township. It offers so many activities and amenities, including basketball, baseball, Frisbee golf, hockey, a walking trail, and a fenced-in playground. Dogs are allowed in the park on a leash, which enables me and my dog Max to enjoy the park.
One of the things I love most about the Pearl S. Buck House is that, impressive as it is, it doesn’t feel like a museum. It is a home: warm and welcoming. It brings to life the story of a talented, energetic, woman who saw injustice and didn’t turn away. Instead, she used her talent and energy to break through barriers and nurture understanding. I have always admired Ms. Buck, both as a writer and a humanitarian, but being in her home, seeing the objects that were part of her life, I see her as a human being.
The facilities at Rexroth Park were perfect for our organization’s needs. Volunteer non-profits like us depend on fundraising to maintain our programs at a minimal cost to participants. Rexroth not only supplies great fields for the kids, but also has a concession stand and pavilion that provides a source of income to help support our efforts. In addition, there is a youth-oriented playground, to the delight of our parents, which allows younger brothers and sisters to have some fun during practices in a safe environment.
Last summer our team hosted a class in Hoopes Park for the public and enjoyed some brunch items afterwards, which allowed everyone to spend time enjoying the park and getting to know each other. There are plenty of trees to cool us down and provide some much-needed shade on a humid summer day. We’ve seen that people really look forward to the chance to get out of their offices or homes and into a park for some fresh air and to be a little closer to nature, whether it be for yoga, running, biking, or other activities.
What happens when people neglect what they’ve built? At Housenick Park, people can watch it happen. The majesty of the seasons, combined with the impermanence of building materials, offers a four-season show with free admission. It’s my secret pleasure, a jewel of almost one hundred acres only five miles north of my home. Once the estate of Archibald Johnston, the city of Bethlehem’s first mayor, it’s now a public park in the heart of the Lehigh Valley.
This 111-acre park has three baseball fields, which provide ample space for egg hunts for toddlers through fourth graders. In addition, we are able to use the football fields for crafts, family-friendly games, face painting, and more. The park provides a lush and scenic background for photos with the Easter Bunny as well. Afterwards, kids enjoy time on the large playground that is suitable for small and big kids alike.
When our students leave Antietam Lake Park at the end of a day of service, they are tired, dirty, and newly inspired. They understand that places like Antietam can show to generation after generation the value of the natural world. Parks can help connect people to the natural spaces around them, and hopefully instill in people an understanding of the need for all of us to be better stewards of the planet we live on.
The Keystone Fund has helped the township fund the purchase of the property, create the master plan for the park, and make improvements in the first phase of construction. These improvements included the aforementioned soccer fields, two pavilions, and one of the walking trails, as well as electric service, public water service, and irrigation lines for the fields.
I was born and raised in Lebanon County, just a few blocks away from the current Lebanon Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). I can remember walking along these tracks as a kid when the trains were still running and iron ore was being shipped to the various operations throughout America. In 1972, the trains stopped running due to flooded iron mines after Hurricane Agnes. Then in 1999 Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails began to develop the land into what is now the LVRT. When I finally decided to retire, I felt a need to try to give something back to the community, and helping on the trail seemed to fit what I was looking for.
Along with an estimated 1.1 million annual visitors, I have personally walked, jogged, bicycled, fished, cross-country skied, kayaked, and climbed cliffs in the park. Best of all, I currently help plan and execute large and small infrastructure and maintenance projects. On a lovely day any visitor will encounter people of all ages and backgrounds reveling in the opportunity to be outdoors away from the noise, press, heat, or cold wind of the concrete, asphalt, and steel metropolis.
The adult hawks remained at Hildacy throughout the year. Many red-shouldered hawks migrate south in the fall, but apparently this pair was able to continue to find enough food to sustain them through the cold months. When spring arrived, the pair constructed a new nest less than a hundred yards from the Natural Lands Trust office building. During the construction of the nest, both birds were often seen and heard flying over the office and defending their territory.
But the true wonder of the new Big Woods Trail is its accessibility. Designed to expand recreational activities to more people, this trail is hard-paved at a 5% slope. Unlike the rocky and muddy trails throughout the area, this trail is wheel-friendly and opens up hikes to wheelchairs, strollers, and other tools of limited mobility. As an educator, this enables me to bring more people out into the field for interpretive walks and lessons, which thrills me.