Connecting outdoors is made simple on Pa.’s rail-trails. Take your family for a spin or hike on one of these flat, scenic pathways that escape the traffic. Find out how.
Resources in Danger: Outdoor Connections
If hunters have emerged as a primary tool in managing white-tailed deer numbers and aiding in forest regeneration, what happens when the young no longer hunt?
If anglers and boaters long have led the charge for cleaner, safer waters, what happens when youngsters no longer delight in watching a bobber dance on the lake’s surface, or look forward to a boat ride with a loved one?
And, what happens to our hiking and biking trails, natural preserves and wild areas when more and more young people on weekends reach for the TV remote and computer mouse rather than walking sticks, helmets, bird identification manuals and “topo” maps?
The threats. It’s called disconnect. It’s happening in Pennsylvania’s very small towns and very large cities. It’s being documented across the nation, and transcending state borders and all age and economic levels. Simply, fewer people are seeking outdoors enjoyment.
And that portends a troubling future for Pennsylvania’s vast wealth of natural resources and the millions who savor it.
From an environmental perspective, we know that participation leads to stewardship, and the future of this state’s most valuable natural resources depends on future generations perpetuating Pennsylvania’s outdoor heritage.
Thinning ranks of the outdoorsmen and women mean more holes in an environmental defense; less license income to fund department services and land acquisitions; and fewer volunteers to help tackle costly projects. And, for borough businesses from Ambler to Zelienople, it means loss of a very lucrative business.
The future. In March 2007, more than 300 people got together in State College to address critical issues surrounding Pennsylvanians' connection to the outdoors at the Governors Outdoor Conference. In 2010, Pennsylvania released its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which incorporated many of the recommendations from the Conference. The recreation plan, which outlines an aggressive five-year plan for healthy outdoor living for Pennsylvania, was named the best plan in the nation in Spring 2011. Read about the plan and its recommendations here.
Other ways to get connected:
• Get Outdoors PA promotes a variety of hand-on activities at many many state parks.
• DiscoverE (formerly known as YELS) offers a series of environmental learning for children 4-17.
• The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation is a nonprofit organization increasing participation in recreational angling and boating, and public awareness and appreciation of the need for protecting, conserving and restoring this nation's aquatic natural resources