Blue Mountain stretches from northern New Jersey down through 11 Pennsylvania counties to the Maryland state line. Rain and snow on the mountain drain into 1,597 sources of public drinking water and the mountain's forests provide some of the best wildlife habitat in the state and a home to 160 miles of the Appalachian Trail. An alliance of sportsmen, conservation groups, businesses, landowners, and government and tourism agencies are working to conserve it, piece by piece. but most of it still remains unprotected.
In East Vincent Township, 36.5 acres in the French Creek Watershed were purchased for a township park and natural open space area. It is a part of a 154-acre property that had been purchased by a local developer and the township was able to work with the developer, a local land and citizen groups to preserve a portion of this property, achieve a site plan for environmentally sensitive growth and protect greenway corridors.
Lancaster County Conservancy’s creation of the Tucquan Glen Nature Preserve protects some of the county's rapidly diminishing open space. Described as the premier natural area in Lancaster County, it includes a rhododendron and hemlock canopied trail following Tucquan Creek, a creek so clear it’s been designated as a wild and scenic Pennsylvania River. During the summer, nearby city residents flee to the creek’s cool waters. Each spring, Tucquan becomes a classroom for every sixth-grader in the Marticville School District, and for some students, it is their first opportunity to experience a true natural setting.
Allegheny Commons Park is a short walk from major churches, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the National Aviary, a public school, and several daycare centers. Thousands of children take advantage of the space on a regular basis. However, the park’s aging playground had become unsafe over the years. The City of Pittsburgh led a community engagement process to provide the public with the opportunity to help design a new playground, including input from neighborhood children. Thousands of children ages 2-12 now enjoy a safe, up-to code place to play, including safe, age appropriate equipment for 2-5 year olds.
A Keystone grant to purchase 33 acres of Montandon Marsh began the work to preserve and protect what is a one of the few remaining diverse riparian wetlands ecosystems in central Pennsylvania. The work includes collaborating with a sand and gravel miner in the marsh to protect the marsh so future generations can enjoy it. Education, outreach, and protection the marsh are a vital part of the ongoing effort to preserve Montandon, which offers refuge for migrating waterfowl and critical habitat for wetlands birds.
The D&L Trail passes through towns, industrial powerhouses and along remnants of the Lehigh and Delaware canals. This earthen path exposes walkers, hikers, bicyclists and others to some of Pennsylvania's finest wild lands, waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife. The Keystone Fund has enabled the national heritage corridor and municipalities and counties along the way to create a destination, capitalize on the region’s heritage and promote the natural resources that abound just beyond the trail.
In an area with limited protected open space, Dead Man's Hollow Wildlife Preserve is 400 acres of peace and quiet. Once immersed in the wooded stream valley, the nearby factories, strip malls, and traffic seem to be a world away. The work done on the preserve, including constructing two-and-half miles of trails and clearing out twenty tons of old tires and trash, was accomplished with the help of U.S. Steel workers and local supporters.
A greenway through what many describe as the most beautiful portion of the southern Allegheny Wild and Scenic River areas was made possible with acquisition of two parcels of land north of Perry Township in Clarion County) The Foxburg to Parker Rail Trail offers a flat, scenic hiking, walking and biking experience that can be accessible and enjoyed by all ages.
The Ghost Town Trail is a 36-mile trail network that runs throughout Cambria and Indiana counties. It derives its name from numerous mining towns that once existed along the railroad corridors, and along with environmental educational opportunities, trail users have the opportunity to learn about the history of the area, including the Eliza Iron Furnace, which supplied crude iron to southwestern Pennsylvania communities in the mid 1800s. The more than 75,000 annual users offer a boost to the local economy and municipalities along the trail have welcomed its presence, and its users to their business districts.
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is a 150-mile trail between Pittsburgh PA and Cumberland MD, where it joins the 184-mile C & O Canal Towpath, extending the off-road experience all the way to Washington, DC. The trail provides a safe, clean and motor traffic free expedition through spectacular water gaps and historic tunnels and over breathtaking viaducts, taking full advantage of the railroad engineering expertise to find the easiest grade. It is bringing hope, pride and opportunity to economically depressed towns. New businesses are springing up in these “Trail Towns” catering to visitors and the local residents.
What was once an abandoned rail bed and illegal dumping site for half a century is now the Greater Hazleton Rail Trail, a hub of activity for families, dedicated bikers and hikers, school groups, nature enthusiasts, and anyone intent on maintaining a healthy living. Four miles of the trail are complete and another 12.4 miles are planned. When completed, the trail will the 165-mile D&L trail, which offers visitors an opportunity to experience the region’s heritage.
New Hope is a small community population-wise and area-wise. Because New Hope does not have much landmass, every small parcel of green counts. Keystone funding has been used to create what the borough calls pocket parks, two just along the Delaware River, and one that straddles the railroad track.
The Roxbury Bandshell is one of just a handful of remaining bandshells built throughout the Country by the Works Progress Administration. The use of Keystone funds to restore the roof of this building that had been proposed for demolition sparked a renewed interest in the bandshell. It now hosts a variety of events, including local theatre productions and weekly summer concerts.
Lawrence County established a greenway and recreation plan, which will facilitate the protection of sensitive conservation areas and enhance recreational opportunities for its residents. The new plan develops a county-wide rural recreation plan for municipalities with little or no access to recreation lands and facilities. It calls for the community to develop a trail system, aid in the preservation and reclamation of natural floodplains to enhance water quality, and protect wildlife habitat and open space.
The meaning of “community” was alive and well in the Village of Lowber in Sewickley Township in Westmoreland County when residents came together to lend a hand and create quality recreational opportunities in their community. Community members volunteered their time and talents to design and build a playground and passive recreation area for all ages. Today, township residents as well as folks from all across Westmoreland County, value and enjoy JPG Park..
In Monroe County, hundreds of acres of protected land, a 2150+ acre regional park system and a new ten-mile trail system are the result of regional open space and recreation plans. Through the development of these plans, a multi-municipal recreation commission was established to serve the recreational and open space needs of more than 35,000 residents. Robust community planning has been instrumental in working together to offer a higher quality of life in the region.
The Yuengling Mansion, once the Yuengling family home, now serves over 20,000 people a year. It hosts jazz festivals, outdoor concerts, gallery shows, civil war re-enactments, renaissance faires, Celebrate Schuylkill Festivals and theatre performances. Keystone funds were used to strengthen underlying structural support and finishes of the building’s character-defining front entrance and porch area.
A partnership with Keystone and playground equipment manufacturer Playworld enabled the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority to successfully renovate the Lewisburg Area Recreation Park. The park now includes $800,000 worth of donated equipment, including active playground areas for ages two to five and five to 12, a climbing wall, a skateboard/BMX facility, and a Life Trail with fitness equipment for older adults. Additionally, a passive area was developed, the stream bank of Buffalo Run restored, the pedestrian trail and walkways extended and drainage issues addressed.
Since 1789, Philosophical Hall has been the American Philosophical Society’s home, hosting meetings of members including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John J. Audubon, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein and Robert Frost. Over the years the APS has gathered a museum collection that traces American history and science from the founding fathers to the computer age, including a draft copy of the Declaration of Independence hand-written by Thomas Jefferson and the original journals of Lewis and Clark. Keystone funding repaired the Philosophical Hall's roof, ensuring the long-term preservation of the museum’s important collections and maintaining the building’s form and integrity as part of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
There aren’t many places that attract senior citizens, dog walkers, skateboarders and children simultaneously. Pine Hill Regional Recreation Area is an exception. In May 2002, DCNR provided $55,000 in Keystone grant funds to further develop Pine Hill. The park also attracts a wide variety of users who come to admire views of Michaux State forest, especially when the leaves change color in the fall.
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.
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.
Keystone funds were used to improve the safety, accessibility and aesthetics of the Erie Playhouse, the third oldest community theatre in the nation and one of the busiest community theaters in Pennsylvania. The Erie Playhouse is a prominent force in the revitalization of downtown Erie.
Rice’s Landing was designated as a primary landing site in the Monongahela River Conservation Plan, done in partnership with DCNR in 1997. This plan was contracted by the Steel Industry Heritage Corporation, which is part of the Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program. Since the completion of Phase I, there are a rising number of area residents and visitors who have an interest in boating related activities.
The Minersville Pool has been an important piece of the Minersville community since 1952, but the continuous repairs became to costly for the community and it was shut down. A group of citizens from Minersville and surrounding communities banded together to save this community gem. With a Keystone grant, they rebuilt the pool, which eliminated the safety and ADA issues that existed with the old facility. In its inaugural season, the new Minersville Community Pool broke attendance records.
Over 400,000 people, including commuters, annually use the Schuylkill River Trail, a 22 mile regional trail that links Valley Forge National Historical Park in Montgomery County to Center City Philadelphia. A 2.5 section of trail was widened to accommodate the wide variety of trail users and correct drainage problems that were causing standing water along the entire eastern edge of the trail that required constant maintenance.
Built in 1895, the Allegheny Observatory is one of the major astronomical research institutions of the world. The observatory’s exterior was in need of repair; pieces of the terra cotta surface were breaking off, there was cracking and erosion of mortar joints, and water infiltrated through the deteriorated parapet caused breaking of the terra cotta pieces. The Observatory restoration is part of the ongoing renewal of the Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park.
The Special Kids Zone in Butler County provides a playground for children with special needs, a group that has been underserved for years. The playground was planned by a committee of professionals who work with children with special needs daily. Families and organizations now come from throughout the county and region to use this facility.
When 203 acres of farmland next door was sold to a developer, Mary and Josh, were devastated but not surprised, considering the number of farms sold off in recent years. The couple rallied the community behind them and as a result, the developer decided to sell the property, and Mary and Josh purchased it. Through a mix of programs the couple was able to conserve their neighbor’s farm, their own farm, and an adjacent 244-acre woodland, which is now part of the Game Commission’s public hunting grounds.
The 1850 Coal Oil Johnny House was the home of John Washington Steele, the owner of one of the most productive oil farms during the oil region’s first boom. The restoration of the house's interior and construction of additional exhibit space, supported by Keystone Funding, gives visitors the opportunity to understand life and the rapid transitions made during the first oil boom.
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.
The Keystone Fund’s investment in the White Rocks project leveraged over a million dollars in additional funding; but, as the White Rocks development proposal and preservation effort occurred just as the South Mountain region was identified as one of Pennsylvania’s seven Conservation Landscape Initiatives, the investment also leveraged continued momentum toward the preservation of South Mountain’s unique sense of place and quality of life.
Williamsport CIty's Five Park Master Plan is an excellent example of a master site plan that meets a variety of criteria. During the planning process, outreach efforts included neighborhood input and participation of a variety of key partners in each neighborhood. This project illustrates the importance of working with neighborhoods to meet the needs and address the concerns of the people who live near a facility.
“Special Kids Zone Playground has been fantastic for the County. This facility provides for a group of families that have been under served for years."