Volunteers have big plans for forests
If you head into the woods of Forbes State Forest, walking a trail as you go, thank a volunteer.
Employees of the state bureau of forestry’s Laughlintown office do a lot of work to blaze and maintain those trails, to be sure. But they’ve also enlisted some others to help with that work.
District forester Ed Callahan has a Laurel Mountain Volunteer Group at his disposal, and they’ve been busy.
Made up of representatives of 10 groups in all, including mountain bikers, hikers, skiers, and horseback riders, the group — led by volunteer coordinator Mark Bittner — works four days a year to resurface or reinforce sections of trails worn out from use and natural erosion, clear brush, perform trash and litter pickups, clean culverts and ditches, install steps on steep trail sections, and blaze trails.
An average work day draws 25 to 50 volunteers, even when the weather is bad.
“That’s how much people care about this natural resource and are willing to work to conserve it,” Bittner said in an article about the group published in the PA Parks and Forests newsletter.
The volunteers — who are rewarded at the end of each year with a banquet — have some big future plans, too.
The group has received grants from area foundations and companies, and used some of it to buy gas-powered trimmers, wood stain and other supplies. Additional money is being sought. The idea is to use that money to move from just maintenance to “significant projects,” such as perhaps building a pavilion.
Some of those decisions will be made this spring when the group holds its annual planning meeting. Anyone wanting to get involved or learn more about the group can call Forbes State Forest at 724-238-1200.
In the meantime, Callahan said the group and its involvement is a wonderful thing for local outdoor recreation and for camaraderie among those user groups.
“Having this group has accomplished many things. It has given the user groups a chance to work side by side, gain perspective from one another, air some differences, and also has allowed them to feel freer to let me know their groups needs,” he said in that newsletter article. “And, they see just how much work it takes to keep a trail system like this functioning.”
Chris Dolnack, a native of Western Pennsylvania’s Mon Valley region who generally returns to the state each fall to hunt from the family camp, has earned a promotion.
Dolnack has been named chief marketing officer of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association representing the hunting and shooting industry. In his new role, he will “oversee a broad range of activities, including marketing and sales operations, communications, branding, membership, business development, SHOT Show, partnership marketing and customer recruitment and retention.”
Dolnack has been with the foundation for 14 years. Prior to that he worked in marketing with Smith & Wesson and Colt.