New face of Forbes hopes to help people enjoy state forest
By Bob Frye
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 6:18 p.m.
In some ways, it's been the great unknown.
Forbes State Forest spans about 60,000 acres spread across three tracts in Westmoreland, Fayette and Somerset counties. It encompasses about as much land as Laurel Hill, Laurel Summit, Laurel Ridge, Linn Run, Ohiopyle, Kooser, Raccoon Creek, Moraine and Point State parks — combined.
Yet, most people don't know much about it, said district forester Ed Callahan.
“We get a lot of recreation, in every form. Hunting, hiking, you name it, the Forbes gets a lot of use,” Callahan said. “But all these people come to the forest, they do their thing, and they leave. And they rarely leave with a message.”
That may be about to change.
The Forbes recently became just the second of 19 state forest districts to hire an environmental education specialist.
Rachael Christie's job is a seasonal one — she works about eight and half months a year — but during that time she'll be leading hikes, backpacking trips, natural history events, trail runs and the like, while also talking to school and civic groups, working with volunteers and more.
“Because this position is new, there are no shoes to fill and no guide to follow,” Christie said. “I'm just looking to bring people outside and show them this wonderful resource we have in our back yard, Forbes State Forest. It's pretty unique and it's pretty big.”
Environmental educators are nothing new for state parks. But they are for state forests, said Jeff Woleslagle, communications section chief for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' bureau of forestry.
The bureau has always had service foresters who worked with private landowners, he said. But environmental educators will have a broader outreach focus, he said.
“This is more school related, more about campfire programs and hikes and fly fishing programs. It can pretty much run the gamut,” Woleslagle said.
The first forest educator was hired in Tiadaghton State Forest, in the area known as Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon, just two years ago. Others might yet follow, he said, based on interest and need.
Christie was hired late this season, but has led a few hikes already, and collaborated on events with local parks. Next year, which will be her first full season, she plans to do much more
“I'm very excited to see where this is all going to go,” she said.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Frye: Hunters againdo well on bears
- Opening day a quiet one for area deer hunters
- Participation light in Alle-Kiski Valley as deer hunting season opens
- Reported kills scarce across Westmoreland, Somerset, Fayette counties as deer hunting season begins
- Area hunters have great success bagging big elk
- Outdoors notebook: College anglers headed to national championship