Teens give Gifford Pinchot State Park a makeover

Emily Yinger
York Dispatch
  • The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps will make improvements to Gifford Pinchot State Park trails.
  • The program will run for six weeks, and two of those weeks will be spent preserving Pinchot.

Area teens are coming together this summer through the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps program's Harrisburg unit to work on conservation projects at Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township.

Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps members Riaturrahmi Adnan, 15, left, and Asia Smith, 18, both of Harrisburg, move brush as their team works to reposition a section of eroded trail in Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The program aims to "provide paid work experience, job training and educational opportunities to young people who will complete recreation and conservation projects at state parks, forest lands and other Pennsylvania public lands," according to a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources news release. Ten youths ranging between 15 and 18 years old and two adult leaders are working in the south-central Pennsylvania region.

The program, which began Monday, will last a six weeks, with two of those weeks being spent at Pinchot to improve existing trails and build new trails, said Peter Gernsheimer, a DCNR representative. Workers will reposition a 650-foot path by layering weave fabric, geo pavers and a 3-inch layer of crushed rock, which will help to prevent future erosion from occurring on the trails and to sustain the surrounding wildlife habitats.

Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps member Alex Goodson, 17, of Springettsbury Township, works to break up tree roots as he and his team work to reposition an eroded trail in Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township, Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“It gives me a way to give back to the environment,” said Alex Goodson, 17, of Springettsbury Township, who was working Wednesday at Pinchot.

After the group has completed the work at Pinchot, the members will assist at several other state parks with grounds improvement. Work will be done at Little Buffalo State Park in Perry County, Weiser State Forest in Schuylkill County and Jospeh E. Ibberson Conservation Area in Dauphin County. Projects include planting trees and cleaning up picnic areas.

“The program is a great way to expose young people to jobs in the conservation world,” Gernsheimer said.

Five regions — Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Harrisburg — are included in the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps, although all units work separately in their assigned regions to create conservation awareness and improvements throughout Pennsylvania.