By NICO SALVATORI
ATERVILLE - The Pine Creek Valley, well known as a haven for anyone with a love of the outdoors - the hiking, the kayaking, the hunting - also has educational appeal.
The Tiadaghton Resource Management Center, north of Waterville on Route 44, offers educational exhibits about the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Richard Hill is the center’s environment education specialist. A former science teacher, Hill provides expertise about the history of Pennsylvania’s forests and organizes the center’s recreational activities.
A taxidermied bird exhibit at the Tiadaghton Resource Management Center showcases the many types of birds that can be spotted around the Pine Creek Gorge.
Benches and a telescope make the roof of the Tiadaghton Resource Management Center a key place to relax and watch for birds.
The Tiadaghton Resource Management Center, located at the valley's heart on Route 44 and home of the state Bureau of Forestry District 12, offers interpretive displays for the public to learn about the rich history of Pennsylvania's forests and wildlife. Through kiosks devoted to the state's long history of conservationism, and a fish tank to observe brook trout, as well as instructional material about logging in Pennsylvania, the center is a paradise for the ecologically minded, especially for those who are interested in how the bureau takes care of state parks and forests.
All of this is available as a self-guided tour through the environmentally friendly building, whose windows offer an unobstructed look at the Bull Run and Huntley mountainsides.
"The view is one of the things people always comment about," said Richard Hill, the center's environment education specialist. "Whoever sighted the building picked the right spot."
But however comprehensive the tours, they're no substitute for the real thing - which is why Hill encourages visitors to head outside with him and take part in many of the recreational programs he's designed.
Hill, a former biology and general science teacher in the Williamsport Area School District, offers birding classes for beginners, as well as orienteering courses to teach hikers how to navigate terrain with a map and compass.
In an effort to seamlessly blend the educational and recreational, Hill hosts a three-hour hike on a trail that once was a log slide; on the hike, he details the history of the logging industry in the state.
Another staple of the center is its self-guided tree identification hike. Hill has developed a pamphlet with images of different tree leaves and branches that correspond with marked trees out in the forest.
Right now, Hill is in the early planning stages of organizing a two-day, one-night sojourn through Pine Creek that will include biking and kayaking. The sojourn, beginning in Jersey Shore, would allow bicyclists to ride to the Black Walnut Bottom campground to camp overnight. The next day they would kayak down Pine Creek.
Hill hopes to get the event off the ground, onto wheels and into the water in early June.
Another highlight of the resource center is its green roof - partially made of organic materials such as soil and plants - that extends beyond the exhibit room and looks out onto the mountainsides.
"The roof helps cool and heat the building," Hill said. "It's insulation."
Hill added that green roofs are becoming more popular in urban areas. They help control stormwater runoff and increase property value, as well as create more wildlife habitats in cities. Due to the long lifespan of the roofing material, green roofs also help to reduce costs.
Hill believes the resource center is not only a great educational tool but a place that can serve as a reprieve for tired hikers, anglers and hunters.
"We're trying to capture those folks who are already moving up and down the creek," Hill said.
The center's public restrooms, he added, are their own draw.
The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. After Memorial Day, it will be open all week.