All of these elements combine to create a unique entertainment and educational experience
for people of all ages. The Laurel Highland’s Historical Village projections and marketing strategies, as well as funding criteria and requirements, are included in a detailed Business Plan available upon
request. Our goal is attainable due to the vast amount of dollars being allocated to non profit organizations with such
dreams and vision. It’s also
going to be home for thousands of children throughout the year, as they seek additional support in after school needs.
SHORT TERM GOALS
Trail: Even though it’s not part of the said property,
a biking trial which will not only provide family members with an enjoyable view, but offer the city of Johnstown to expand it’s heritage
project. The bike trail will run from the current Johnstown Heritage site, running north along the old Hinkston Run Road, reaching
the water fall at Water Fall Road. The trail then will split in two parts, one part staying on the western side of the dam,
and rounding out on Benshoff Hill Road, then circling around the Dam. The other trail will head east crossing the dam then heading north
along the shore line of the dam itself. The trail will then end up on 271, where by the trail will turn south towards Johnstown, reaching the other end
of Hinkston Run Road, where by cyclist will turn right on to this road which will return them to the Dam.
2. Wildlife Trail: Our
goal is too build per county codes and DER codes a hiking trail which
will weave in an out of the fields and forest on the eastern side of dam. Keeping
it as simple as possible, the trail will allow children to not only view native wildlife but learn about plants, wildlife,
and the whole eco system. We have already reached out to Penn State
University, and they are more than willing to provide support, in the means of education. Along the trail we will have break stops which will include outdoor signs explaining
that certain area, or certain habitat. A detailed report to follow:
The LHHV Forest
The LHHV Experimental Forest, located 10 miles north of Johnstown, in Middle Taylor township, will offer quiet refuge to all who seek the natural enchantment of a forest experience.
Tucked away in the heart of the Hinkston Run Dam , the Forest is bordered on its Western ridge boundaries by the Hinkston Dam and the Hinkston
Dam Wildlife Management Area.
Forest is a 320-acre tract consisting of approximately 220 acres of mature bottomland hardwood with the
remainder being southern pine and mixed pine/hardwood forest. Part of the Forest, will
be administered by the LHHV through its Wildlife Habitat and Penn’s Wood’s Laboratory in Penn State university.
Since its adoption into the Awareness
of Forest Protection System, will be the primary objective of this experimental
forest to aide and study wildlife and forest management research. The site will also be used as an outdoor classroom in the
study of forest ecosystems for students majoring in forestry, wildlife management, forest recreation, and environmental science
and much more.
Completion is planned for the summer of 2014, the Forest's innovative interpretive trail
system represents the commitment of the volunteers to meet the changing needs and perspectives of society. Unique in its concept
and design, it features the first major trail in this region designed and constructed for universal accessibility. Two separate
loops, spanning a distance of 2.8 miles, take visitors into some of the most dynamic and scenic areas of the Forest.
Sleepy Hollow is a cool, clear, spring-fed perennial
stream which serves as the centerpiece for this loop. Traversing gentle slopes along the banks of the creek, this barrier-free,
0.8-mile-long surfaced trail provides universal access to a mature mixed forest where pines and hardwoods still stand stalwart
against the rush of modern time.
The rich, moist soils along the creek support diverse vegetation dominated by hardwoods. The
large, old trees in this area offer the visitor a soothing environment for exercise as well as opportunities for quiet reflection
and relaxation. Since these trees also provide cover and food, which support many species of birds and mammals, wildlife viewing
(especially birding) is an inherent part of the unobtrusive visitor's experience.
As environmental issues become increasingly a part of public awareness and concern, the LHHV Volunteers
is taking the initiative to provide and promote conservation education. Experiential learning opportunities offered in a living
outdoor classroom are geared toward fostering respect for our forest resources and appreciation of sound management principles.
Once federal injunctions are lifted from the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas and treatments
can be imposed, the Management Loop will be dedicated to the demonstration of the best management practices for both timber
and wildlife. Winding 2.0 miles through five different units of the Forest, this loop will provide visitors a chance
to view an array of forest management practices at various stages of process. Not just a path through the Forest, the
trail is like a corridor through time. Integrated into the management objectives for each different area, it will permit visitors
to witness firsthand the forest's response to various treatments across the years. Visitors may also observe wildlife while
learning about a variety of forest habitats.
Approximately one half of the more than 300 species of birds which are common to
western Pennsylvania are found in the various habitat types on the Forest. More than 80 species of
butterflies add color and quiet beauty, while the anticipation of catching a glimpse of one of the roughly 30 indigenous mammals
makes each visit exciting for wildlife lovers.
The changing climate
of our region permits a few short months of which to use the trail and invites visitors to appreciate the special beauty each season brings. The trail will be open
to the public daily during daylight hours for wheelchair and foot traffic only. Binoculars and cameras can enhance lasting
memories. Visitors must bring their own water and Insect repellent is advised
from May through September. Shaded picnic tables will be provided. Accessible
restrooms will be provided. Pets must be kept on a leash. Firearms are prohibited. The LHHV Loop has a moderate difficulty
rating, while the Management Loop offers a more challenging and strenuous walk. Interpretive materials are available for self-paced,
self-guided tours, or special arrangements can be made for conducted group activities.
3. Amphitheater: The Kochcha’ Aabiniili’ (“outdoor seating”)
Amphitheater is the place where our culture lives day to day among our people and our guests.
The 320-person tiered
performance area wil hosts a variety of communal activities: lectures, plays, storytelling, crafts like bow-making, cultural
ceremonies and many of our outdoor tours begin here in this central meeting place.
The amphitheater will also hosts
the native American Nation Dance Troupe and the Intertribal Dance Troupe and star stories at night, living history
performances, and concerts from Native American musicians. Also showing an intrest musical groups from various ethinc
communities, ie Tammies, Nationial Polish Dancers and area High School Bands and Choirs.
This amphitheatre will be located near the dam , and offers
a spectacular view of the lake. It is designed for interpretive talks, and will support popular recreation events.
This project is a comprehensive design masterplan and ecological rehabilitation plan for an 300 acre
renewable forest tract. The client, Laurel Highlands Historical village INC, seeks to recreate this site – called LHHV Forest – as a regional showcase for ecological rehabilitation and environmental education.
This includes passive protection of wetlands, and accelerated succession of forest regeneration and habitat enhancements,
site access enhancements, as well as educational signage and program development.
We visited the site on various occasions,
during which we mapped topography, measured slopes and site layout, evaluated existing vegetation, conducted a site features
inventory, studied aesthetics and viewsheds, and took numerous photographs. We conducted a public survey of visitors’
impressions and use patterns following a preliminary design presentation and public meeting.
Additionally, we suggest a framework for an
effective educational program and catalog important public access improvements. All of this information is integrated into
a “50-year vision of LHHV
Loss of Native Biodiversity
Prior to European arrival, southwestern Pennsylvania’s abundant waters, forests, and wild
game had supported native peoples at least for the past 12,000 years. This region was largely occupied by
the Monongahela, Shawnee, Seneca, Delaware, and Susquehannock cultures
(Alberts, 1980). However, as European settlement
intensified, particularly with the discovery of abundant coal seams in the mid 18th century, the region’s land use patterns began to rapidly change (LCCRCP,
2002). Western Pennsylvania was literally and figuratively at the
headwaters of an industrial revolution and
no existing legislation would ensure a responsible process of development; consequently, the composition of western
Pennsylvania’s indigenous people, plants, and
wildlife was irrevocably altered. Reports by the Western
Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) in 1994, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) in 2005, urge that preservation and
restoration of native biodiversity is critical to the repair of ecosystems throughout the state and region (WPC, 2004, PGC, 2005). Given the elevated
visibility which will occur as implementation
of the LHHV Forest
master plan proceeds, a concerted ecological
rehabilitation program would raise public awareness of, and appreciation for, the endangerment and value of
regional native biodiversity.
Management of Invasive Species
The removal of invasive species at LHHV
will certainly be one of the most important precursors to long-term ecosystem rehabilitation. The management of invasives
must be individually tailored both by species and by the type of plant community they impact.
Education is also important for informing
the public about the rehabilitation process. As these efforts begin, the current state of LHHV will change and neighbors
and frequent visitors might become concerned if they are not adequately informed about the reasons for these changes. A
successful prairie restoration program in Chicago, for example, was halted after 19 years of work because the public began to feel left out of the process,
as though restorationists were purposefully hiding their efforts. In reality, information had been provided
throughout the entire process, which included tours, slide shows, wildflower identification classes, newspaper
articles about the restoration programs, signs postings, and flyer distribution (Ross, 1997).
Fortunately for the Chicago restoration efforts, the proper public informational steps had
been followed. The important lesson learned from this would-be controversy, however, is to simply
involve the public from the outset not only
by providing information, but by including them in decision making and especially, providing opportunities to participate
in restoration activities.
It is also important that stakeholders see
the innate value of rehabilitation efforts. The Society for Ecological Restoration recommends fostering the public’s
support by helping them realize how restoration efforts can benefit them personally. Such benefits could include, for
example, a destination for ecotourism that
will support local business or environmental ducational opportunities for local schools. If the value is clear, the
community will be more ikely to support these efforts (Society for Ecological Restoration, 2005). The benefits of rehabilitating
LHHV are many and can be effectively revealed in a new educational program.