DCNR shares guidance on visiting state parks and forests

·9 min read

May 28—WILKES-BARRE — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn this week noted that state park swimming pools and beaches will be open this holiday weekend to welcome visitors for the outdoor activities that have been so critical to our well-being during the pandemic.

"We are again pleased to be able to provide opportunities to cool off and have fun for our visitors this summer," Dunn said. "Pools and swimming beaches provide affordable options for individuals and families across the commonwealth and we hope to see visitors safely recreating at our parks during our warmest months."

Dunn said 15 state parks have pools for the public to enjoy and some opened on Saturday, May 28. They are typically open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

Dunn noted this year that the ability to hire lifeguards, construction delays, or having concession-run pools under agreement is impacting schedules for the following parks:

Caledonia State Park, Adams County, due to construction and staffing issues the pool opening will be delayed

Codorus State Park, York County, only the splash pad will be operated until additional lifeguard staffing can be hired

Frances Slocum State Park, Luzerne County, the pool opened May 28, and operate weekends and holidays

French Creek State Park, Berks County, the pool is closed for the season due to not having a pool concessionaire. Parties who may be interested in partnering with the bureau as a concessionaire to operate the pool for the 2023 season and beyond should contact the French Creek State Park Office

Lackawanna State Park, Lackawanna County, the pool will pen June 4, operating daily, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Nockamixon State Park, Bucks County, the pool will open June 7, operating daily

Ryerson Station State Park, Greene County, the pool opening is still to be determined due to construction and staffing

Parks not mentioned resumed their normal summer operation on May 28.

Swimming is permitted at 35 state parks across the commonwealth at designated beaches. Swimming beaches are open and free to the public from before Memorial Day to after Labor Day, unless otherwise posted.

Except for Presque Isle State Park in Erie and Fuller Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cumberland County, all park beaches operate under the "open swim" policy, meaning you swim at your own risk. While lifeguards are not present, beaches are patrolled by park staff.

To apply for a lifeguard position, contact the local park for more information. DCNR will reimburse selected candidates for their required life-guarding certifications. Information on all open commonwealth positions can be found and applied for at employment.pa.gov.

A number of state parks and forest recreation areas are expected to see crowding during holidays and weekends, especially when the weather is favorable. Visitors always are encouraged to consider options for less crowded locations, or visiting on weekdays if possible.

Overnight accommodations such as camping and cabins for the Memorial Day weekend are close to capacity. Reservations can be made 11 months in advance, and the state park reservation system provides information about availability.

For more information about state parks and state forests, visit the DCNR website.

Hanover Crossing's Marsh

an important area wetland

Ellen Ferretti, executive director of the North Branch Land Trust, this week said Hanover Crossing's Marsh, in Hanover Township, is an important wetland.

Conserved by North Branch Land Trust, the marsh contains a massive inventory of intriguing and biologically important flora and fauna, including a cattail patch that houses migratory birds, pollinating invertebrates like moths, and small fish and clusters of deciduous and coniferous trees that house mammals as small as a chipmunk and as large as a beaver.

Ferretti said this time of year is perfect to observe nesting migratory birds, which are often visible from the adjacent roadway.

With approximately three acres of wetland more than 1-foot deep, the Hanover Crossings Marsh can hold and slowly release more than 990,000 gallons of water that would otherwise flood stormwater drains and tributaries in the area.

And because wetlands slow the movement of water, excess nutrients from fertilizers and potentially harmful chemicals that enter through the water cycle can settle and bind to the marsh's sediment before entering our oceans.

Anyone who enjoys photographing any of North Branch Land Trust's properties are asked to send NBLT a message.

NBLT Guardian Society

Evening of Celebration

On May 4, North Branch Land Trust hosted its first benefit of the year celebrating members of our Guardian Society.

Guardian Society Members enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres while meeting North Branch Land Trust board and staff. Chair of the Board, Christina Dilks Taylor spoke on the recent success of North Branch Land Trust and introduced Executive Director Ellen Ferretti. Ferretti then spoke on her plans for the future of North Branch, building upon the passion and success of the Land Trust's mission.

Guardian Society Members were also treated to a set of note cards designed by Chase Taylor. A limited number of these cards are still available for purchase.

Due to an abundance of caution during these uncertain times, the event was limited in number. North Branch Land Trust aims to return to large social events as soon as health and safety allows.

Springtime alert: Leave

young wildlife alone

Whether in their backyards or high on a mountain, it's almost certain Pennsylvanians will encounter young wildlife this time of year.

While some young animals might appear to be abandoned, usually they are not. It's likely their mothers are watching over them from somewhere nearby.

So when encountering young wildlife, be it deer, birds, raccoons or other animals, the best thing you can do is leave it alone.

"Well-intentioned people might step in to help a young animal that appears to be alone, not realizing its mother is nearby and it's not in need of help," said Matthew Schnupp, the Game Commission's wildlife management director. "That's one reason why leaving young wildlife undisturbed in the wild typically is the best solution when encountering young wild animals."

Adult animals often leave their young while they forage for food, but they don't go far and they do return. Wildlife also often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the "hider strategy," where young animals will remain motionless and "hide" in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.

Deer employ this strategy, and deer fawns sometimes are assumed to be abandoned when, in fact, their mothers are nearby.

The Game Commission urges Pennsylvanians to resist the urge to interfere with young wildlife or remove any wild animal from its natural setting.

Such contact can be harmful to both people and wildlife. Wild animals can lose their natural fear of humans, making it difficult, even impossible, for them to ever again live normally in the wild. And anytime wildlife is handled, there's always a risk people could contract diseases or parasites such as fleas, ticks and lice.

Wildlife that becomes habituated to humans also can pose a public-safety risk. Some years ago, a yearling, six-point buck attacked and severely injured two people. The investigation into the incident revealed that a neighboring family had illegally taken the deer into their home and fed it as a fawn, and they continued to feed the deer right up until the time of the attack.

It is illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild. Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal.

Under no circumstances will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal, and under a working agreement with state health officials, any "high risk" rabies vector species confiscated after human contact must be euthanized and tested; it cannot be returned to the wild because the risk of spreading disease is too high.

Animals infected with rabies might not show obvious symptoms, but still might be able to transmit the disease. Though any mammal might carry rabies, the rabies vector species identified in the agreement are: skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and groundhogs.

People can get rabies from the saliva of a rabid animal if they are bitten or scratched, or if the saliva gets into the person's eyes, mouth or a fresh wound.

Only wildlife rehabilitators, who are licensed by the Game Commission, are permitted to care for injured or orphaned wildlife for the purposes of eventual release back into the wild. For those who find wildlife that truly is in need of assistance, a listing of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website, www.pawr.com.

If you are unable to identify a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact the Game Commission by phone at 610-926-3136.

State announces nearly $1M to

assist river access in Wayne County

The Wolf Administration this week announced that $967,672 in new grant funding was approved to assist projects aimed at expanding access to the Lackawaxen River in Wayne County.

"I am pleased to join the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) to announce this significant investment in outdoor recreation in a wonderful Pennsylvania community," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Deputy Secretary Lauren Imgrund. "We are excited for the new opportunities these projects will provide boaters, anglers and others who want to take in nature. These projects don't happen without collaboration and dedication and I thank everyone who partnered on expanding river access in this area."

DCNR and PFBC funded two projects to expand access to the Lackawaxen River: Development of Industrial Point River Access Park along the Lackawaxen River in Honesdale and development of White Mills River Access Park along the Lackawaxen River in Texas Township. Both projects include construction of boat launches, comfort stations, pedestrian walkways, ADA access, landscaping, and parking. The Industrial Point Project will also include a new pavilion and the White Mills project will also include a new fishing pier. DCNR dedicated $408,000 to these projects.

"Communities that embrace conservation and lay out the welcome mat for anglers and boaters through expanded access to the water realize tremendous recreational, social, and economic benefits," said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director. "The addition of these access points along the Lackawaxen River is a major step in establishing a water trail through this region that will only enhance Wayne County's reputation as a destination region for outdoor enthusiasts."

In addition to the Industrial Point and White Mills projects, the PFBC provided funding to establish a third river access at Indian Orchard, which will serve as the midpoint of the approximately 10-mile water trail from Honesdale to Hawley. When awarding funding through its Boating Facility Grant Program in 2021 and 2022, the PFBC placed special emphasis on projects within the Delaware River Watershed.

Thanks to additional grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, a combined $559,672 was dedicated to the three projects in Wayne County.