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Teen revives treasure of Hempfield campus

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Nate Butina of Hempfield and Beth Tiedemann walk along the freshly cleared trail on the outskirts of the campus at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

Botanical paradise

“The Bell Nature Trail leads the walker through a rich woodland of surprising diversity. Because of selective timber cutting many years ago, a young to middle-aged forest of red maple, black cherry, basswood, Hophornbeam and shagbark hickory is interspersed with patches of much older red and white oak.

Some of these oaks have grown to impressive size; the loop at the trail's end leads through a grove where some trees may be 200 or more years old.

The trail also crosses two moist ravines where a variety of ferns and mosses can be found throughout the year. In spring, wild-flowers appear, notably Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, Trillium, May Apple and Flowering Dogwood. Panoramic views of the lower campus are visible from overlooks along the end of the loop on bluffs above the meandering Slate Run.”

Source: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

A Hempfield teen has given new life to a walking trail that almost became lost amid lush vegetation at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.

The picturesque path on the Hempfield campus once again offers a scenic walk of slightly more than a mile after an eight-month effort led by 17-year-old Nate Butina.

The trail was initially created sometime before the campus came into existence 50 years ago by original landowner Charles McKenna Lynch.

It now goes through the wooded area off the parking lot above the Academic Village.

In 1975, it was incorporated into the Kenneth E. Bell Memorial Nature Trail, which was named for a botanist and biology professor who taught at the campus from 1965 to 1974.

The trail was used by campus and community members for many years, but over time had become obscured by the natural succession of the forest.

Butina, a Boy Scout who belongs to Troop 416 in Hempfield, decided last year to clear and mark the trail as his Eagle Scout project.

“I live right off the trail and used it for years,” Butina said.

But then it became overgrown. “You had to bushwhack your way into the woods to find the trail,” he said.

Butina found enthusiastic support when he contacted campus officials about his idea.

“He talked to us about it and we thought that it would be a great idea to re-establish the trail,” said Beth Tiedemann of Hempfield, director of career services at Pitt-Greensburg.

Butina began work last fall, clearing and marking the trail until the weather prohibited any further progress.

Butina and several volunteers resumed work in the spring, successfully uncovering the trail and widening it in some places.

“This is a nice trail to walk,” Butina said. “There are some hills, but not too steep, and you see a lot of deer on the trail.”

Butina's project, which cost about $400, was funded by Pitt Student Government.

“This was a great team effort on the part of the campus, volunteers and the Scouts,” Tiedemann said. “We had staff members, students and both adults and kids help. We also had members of the campus cross country team help.”

Butina marked trees to show the route, added a map at the trailhead in the parking area and cleared the entrance area leading to the path.

Hidden along the trail are four geocaches, or containers, for outdoor treasure hunters using GPS-enabled devices to navigate to a specific set of coordinates to find them while geocaching.

The trail was officially re-dedicated this month during homecoming activities on campus.

“This is a wonderful example of a collective project and it all came together under Nate's leadership,” Tiedemann said.

“I think that he did a wonderful job,” she concluded.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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