Our mission: To inspire stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.

Wendy and I had another winter wonderland walk this Wednesday on the Great Allegheny Passage near our Confluence homes. Snow falling gently on the hemlocks and rhododendrons along the Youghiogheny River. Couldn't hardly beat it. Now on Sunday Bill and I will make our annual trek south for the winter and for a change I might be sorry to do it. No question that Pennsylvania is beautiful covered in a blanket of fresh snow.

That winter wonderland walk looked a little bit like the one in the masthead this week taken by Trudy Jones at Kooser State Park and submitted to our photo contest this year. A little bit. Okay, it wasn't snowing quite that hard. But it's a nice shot - that deserves your click to get the full effect of the trees. You'll feel the wind blowing!

Pam Metzger
Membership Coordinator

News of note


Neighbor Larry shared a blurb from the November issue of "Powder" magazine (as he dreams of ski vacations past and yet to come) that was very much in line with our "In Closing" last week on the benefits of outdoor winter exercise. The article in question is entitled "The Quiet Place: A search for silence in a world with too much noise" and relates the adventure of the magazine's executive editor Matt Hansen as he followed ski backwoods guide Beau Fredland through the mountains near his home in Cooke City, MT.

"Scientists have now shown that there are very real benefits to that connection [health and nature]. Time in nature lowers cortisol levels and blood pressure, and reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. Studies at the University of Utah and Stanford have proven that we are healthier, and better at being human (i.e. less distracted, more present), when we are outside and unfettered from technology. Researchers have also concluded that simply spending time beneath a forest canopy generates calmness, rejuvenation and restorative benefits. Since the 1980s, the Japanese have incorporated 'forest bathing' as a cornerstone of national medicine. In the U.S., doctors have started to prescribe the outdoors as part of a healthy lifestyle through initiatives like Parks Rx, a program developed through the Institute at the Golden Gate in partnership with the National Park Service to encourage parks and green space as a form of health care."

If it's anything to do with skiing, I would tend to listen to Neighbor Larry who has himself "followed backwoods ski guides in the pre-dawn darkness in the U.S., Canada, all of the alpine countries of Europe, and the Andes in Argentina." So while "Powder" magazine does not share much of its content online, the article seems as though it might be one worth seeking out at your local library or bookstore. And PPFF has a fact sheet about forest bathing available on our website under Get Outdoors (check out the Download a Fact Sheet dropdown) and, if you are lucky enough to live in the Steel City, it seems the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is aparticipant in the Parks RX concept.

Thank you! We reached our goal of 125 new members in the 125th anniversary year. Congratulations to Portland Street Rudy who now wears Member #2018-125. A Pennsylvania State Parks and State Forests Passport is on its way to him with our gratitude.

We aren't opposed to making the goal 250 new members for the year! But you'll have to hurry!

Another goal is pressing this month - ongoing efforts to put an accessible dock got a tremendous booth with the award of a $10,000 challenge grant from a local foundation. That means that all dollars raised before the end of the year will be matched by the foundation dollar for dollar up to $10,000! To receive $20,000 of the $50,000 needed would give the project a boost, would it not? Click to donate or, if you know a potential additional sponsor along the lines of a local social or service organization, please pass this along! There's a link right on our home page that tells the whole story. (http://bit.ly/LittleBuffDock)

At work and play in the parks and forests



Get up early tomorrow morning and have Coffee with the Birds at Sinnemahoning. You never know who'll turn up at the feeder.


Holiday ornaments are there for the making at Prince Gallitzin on Sunday afternoon.


A variety of opportunities for Winter Wildlife Watch(ing) is on tap tomorrow afternoon at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center.


Could there still be traces of summer at Point State Park? Yes, in the form of summer wildflowers, now dried and there for the observation on a Winter Wonderland Walk tomorrow morning.

No matter what region of the commonwealth you want to visit, our website Events and the DCNR Calendar of Events are great sources for things to see and do. Bookmark them!

Picture of the week


Linda Stager, whose beautifully atmospheric shot of the picnic pavilion at Colton Point State Park was our Critics' Choice in the Built Environment category this year, shared a nifty little video to the Pine Creek Rail Trail Facebook page this week. Give the photo a click to see it sparkle. (Linda's written a guidebook to the Pine Creek Trail as well.)

Take five for trivia


Good to know we have a few other porcupine aficionados out there. I was surprised to see the photo of one up a tree but apparently that is another area of science where I was simply ill-informed. They are definitely bark-eaters and their tails make it easy for them to climb. Color me impressed. Mary Ann also shared the tidbit that their skin has antibiotic qualities so if they fall out of the tree and stab themselves with their own quills they won't get an infection. A pretty nice evolutionary trick, that.

And Gloria has a groundhog that sleeps in her maple tree. What ELSE climbs trees that I didn't know about?

In any event, congratulations to our November winner, randomly drawn: State College Sandra.

I suspect I won't have the southern office set up in time to generate a Fridays next week so you'll have two weeks to consider our first December question. Since Wednesday, December 11 is International Mountain Day, let's go up high. Everyone knows Pennsylvania has the Alleghenies and the Poconos. Name two other mountains/ranges/ridges that give our Commonwealth its character.

All correct answers each week go into the hiking boot for a random drawing at the end of the month for something from the PPFF Prize Closet - be it a bandana, a book, or some other special goodie. Send your answer to my email address and we'll take it from there. One entry per person per week!

In closing

(Another photo from the 2018 Parks & Forests Through the Seasons photo contest that deserves your click. Taken by * at *.)

Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization - contributions to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. The official registration and financial information of PPFF may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling, toll-free within Pennsylvania, to 800.732.0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.

Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare and 1% for the Planet and is a Gold GuideStar Participant.

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