Local state forest receives award

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, the official non-profit of state parks and state forests, has awarded Tiadaghton State Forest the Forest of the Year Award.

The public is invited to attend the awards banquet, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 7 at the West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill.

The Forest of the Year Award recognizes a state forest district for its innovative and exemplary work in both forest management and recreation for a wide range of activities.

Tiadaghton State Forest deserved the award due to the staff’s work in educating the public about the recreational, environmental and cultural importance of state forests and their ability to balance the multiple uses of forest lands, according to the foundation.

Tiadaghton, the foundation said, is a excellent example of public lands striving to meet multiple goals and satisfy a broad array of stakeholders.

Over the last few years, the foundation said the state forest has been a focus of Marcellus shale development.

“It is also the home of three natural areas (about 4,000 acres) and two wild areas (about 11,000 acres). This juxtaposition of the extraction of a strategically important natural resource and the conservation of ecologically important resources is an example of how the staff of the Tiadaghton walks the tightrope of balancing the needs of very different stakeholders,” foundation staff said in a news release.

Also contributing to the award were the wide array of recreational opportunities that are offered in Tiadaghton.

Jeff Prowant, district forest manager, said he and the forest’s staff really appreciate the attention from the foundation and the rest of the citizens of the state.

“They feel we provide them with beneficial service,” he said.

Prowant said two of the staff’s assistant district foresters – Jason Stellfox and Tom Casilio – will accept the award on behalf of the whole district’s staff.

“They (the foresters) do the bulk of the work, so they should attend,” Prowant said.

“The whole district staff deserves a very large pat on the back and appreciation from the citizens of the commonwealth,” he said, for all the work that is put into the district.

The award that Tiadaghton will receive is sponsored by Dominion Resources, which supplies natural gas to parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

Award winners will receive a handcrafted wooden bowl made by artist Robert Gochnauer.

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation was founded in 1999 to promote and support the natural and cultural resources of the state parks and forests through leadership in recreation, education, conservation and volunteerism.

Reservations for the banquet must be made by April 23 by calling the foundation at 717-236-7644.