May 21, 2024

Urban Connections – Allegheny National Forest offers overnight backpacking experiences

For those who live in places like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, the Allegheny National Forest can be a daunting place to take a first backpacking trip. The forest is a far cry from city life… trees as tall as buildings, the constant songs of birds or chittering of squirrels, roots and rocks for your feet to navigate, and inky-black darkness at night. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service offered its first Urban Connections backpacking program at Allegheny National Forest in 2023, and they plan to offer several more similar programs in 2024. 

May 9, 2024

Volunteers stop the spread of invasive garlic mustard in Allegheny National Forest

Community volunteers helped with the  successful removal of invasive plants from the Allegheny National Forest with help, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. On Thursday, April 25, 2024, a group of seven volunteers removed 24 lawn bags full of garlic mustard from the Buckaloons Recreation Area at the forest’s annual garlic mustard pull.

April 30, 2024

BIRD LORE: You can help birds, just by looking around

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a “birder,” but you enjoy noticing birds. Perhaps you’ve even used something like the Merlin App to help you figure out what bird woke you up with his raucous song outside your window at 5:30 am. I’d like to invite you to join a vast group of citizen scientists, from experts in the field of ornithology to everyday folks who just enjoy watching birds, as we assess the breeding populations of birds in Pennsylvania.

April 26, 2024

Forest Fridays: Not-so-common wildflowers in Tioga State Forest

My favorite common spring ephemeral wildflowers—hepaticas, can easily be identified by the unusual, leathery lobed leaves and the variably colored flowers. With closer inspection, photographs, and a bit of botanical knowledge, it is possible to document some remarkable diversity of this common species. Recently, a population of sharp-lobed hepatica with double flowers growing along a road in Tioga State Forest caught the attention of botanists.

April 19, 2024

Forest Fridays: Willow world

My first memory of a willow tree is the pussy willow that existed between the garage and our dog’s house on the property of my childhood home. I vividly remember stopping to admire its velvety catkins each spring. A few miles away into town, a local streambank is still lined with weeping willows. I can remember how they first caught my eye, their cascading foliage swaying gracefully in the wind. 

April 12, 2024

Forest Fridays: The promise of spring

Our recent March and early April “yo-yo” weather pattern has me admittedly yearning for brighter, warmer days. Like the emerging leaves, I must be patient; jumping the gun won’t work out in the long run. A prime example is the magnolia in the side yard, whose blooms almost always get zapped by frost. Timing is everything, so they say.

April 10, 2024

Is it ever okay to take a souvenir from nature?

You're on a walk, and you see a beautiful empty robin’s blue eggshell. The bird has already hatched, and the shell is just sitting on the forest floor. You're a gatherer of beautiful things, and this pretty eggshell would be perfect for your collection. The question is, is it really harmful to take just one object from nature? Let’s find out together, exploring what the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace say about removing things from where you found them in nature.

April 4, 2024

Happy Earth Month! Here are some ways to celebrate, big and small

Happy Earth Month! If you are looking for some ideas to celebrate, we have you covered! From volunteering at a state park or forest event, to making a small donation when you renew your vehicle registration, it all makes a difference! Here are some ideas to celebrate and help care for our planet.

March 29, 2024

Forest Fridays: Bountiful brooks

Spring is here and tomorrow’s youth opener begins another season of trout fishing in Pennsylvania. It seems as good a time as any to talk about our state fish, the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Few creatures provide a more awe-inspiring sight than the incredible brook trout. Displaying a carnival of colors, brookies may be small, but they are mighty. Pound for pound, they put up a fight on a taut line as vigorous as any fish of pugilistic repute.

March 28, 2024

The joys of volunteering (and how you can volunteer in the PA Wilds!)

The benefits of volunteering are incredible, and it’s well worth it to make some time in your life to give back as a volunteer. You can help worthwhile causes, be a good steward of local lands, change things to be more equitable and accessible, build a sense of community, and help others discover why you’re so passionate about the things that are important to you. Learn the many benefits of volunteering, as well as specific ways you can give back in the PA Wilds! Check at the bottom of this blog to hear directly from volunteers in the PA Wilds region.