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Laurel Highland's Historical Village

LHHV Forest Hiking Trail

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Conceptual Summary

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

  1. Bike 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.

 

The LHHV 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Management Loop

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.

General Information

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 Forest.

 

 

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

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.

 

LHHV Bike trail
hinckstonmap.jpg
The Bike trail runs along side the Dam from Route 271.

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