PLAINS TWP. — The Seven Tubs Nature Area is looking a lot better thanks to nine young adults who tackled heavy-duty trail restoration, picnic table assembly and even built steps out of rocks.
Part of Pinchot State Forest, the Seven Tubs Nature Area benefited from the deployment of the crew from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps — a statewide program designed to protect and restore public lands, while providing young people with the knowledge to be good stewards of the state’s natural resources.
The Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps is an initiative offered by the Wolf Administration through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that offers paid work experience, job training, and educational opportunities.
Bureau of Forestry Director Dan Devlin and other officials recognized members of the Outdoor Corps at a ceremony Thursday at the Seven Tubs site near Laurel Run.
“Closing out its second year of operation, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps certainly is emerging as a ‘win-win’ effort for all involved,” Devlin told the gathering of young workers. “Pinchot State Forest has profited greatly from the young workers’ spirit and commitment demonstrated here at Seven Tubs, and at other state forests and state parks across the state. Corps crews have helped DCNR chip away at a backlog of much-needed work, while gaining invaluable career direction and exposure to the outdoors.”
Transferred from Luzerne County to state ownership two years ago, Seven Tubs was designated for recent deployment of the young workers.
Moxie Niedenthal served as crew leader for the group between the ages of 18 and 25 — Ryan Ramos, co-team leader who recently moved to the area from Albany, N.Y.; Kate Schafer, White Haven; Becca Rockefeller, Plains Township; Jordan Vitkoski, Dallas; Marissa Rinaldi, Mount Cobb; Erica Sidorwicz, Scranton; Katie Eveland, Hazle Township; and Regina Dougherty, Weatherly.
Niedenthal gave a recap of the work performed by crew members and praised them for their dedication to the project that lasted four weeks over the summer and three weeks in the fall.
“I think this is the best crew in the state,” Niedenthal said. “I think they set the bar really high for this program. They did high quality work.”
Niedenthal said they learned skills they will use throughout their lives. She said their effort made a “striking difference” to the Seven Tubs area.
“This crew hauled dirt and rocks up and down these hills,” she said. “This was a challenging and rewarding project in many ways. Their leadership qualities came out and it was amazing to watch them grow into themselves. They surpassed all expectations.”
Specifically, the crew repaired more than 500 feet of eroded trail, using about 55 pallets of stone for steps; placed 20 tons of gravel to set the steps; moved approximately 10 tons of top soil to stabilize eroded areas; and placed 300 feet of silt sock to protect stabilized areas. They also assembled 20 picnic tables.
State Rep. Mike Carroll of Avoca, the Democratic chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, heaped praise on crew members for their work.
“We are thrilled with what’s been done here and across the state with this program,” Carroll said. “We appreciate your dedication to the environment and the community in making Seven Tubs more enjoyable and safer for those who come here. This matters a lot.”
Devlin, who also serves as State Forester, joined Pinchot District Forester Nick Lylo and others in meeting members of the Wilkes-Barre-based Outdoor Corps. They also visited their project sites.
“Your work here accents an incredible success story that I and other DCNR people are seeing across the state,” Devlin said. “Corps members dedicated more than 84,000 hours to improve state parks and forests, resulting in improvement to 68 acres of green spaces; 13,000 feet of shoreline; 142 miles of nature trails; 1,251 park and forest structures; and the planting of 567 trees.”
Devlin said the program is connecting youth and young adults with job opportunities relating to the outdoors and the environment, and providing training in work skills necessary for future successful employment.
“What you did here this past summer and fall was not easy work, and I salute your commitment and accomplishments,” Lylo told the group. “I encourage residents of Luzerne County and beyond to take advantage of the autumn weather; come out and see your work; and hike and explore this new and diverse forestland.”
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps employed 200 young people in 15 locations. Established in 2016, the program is financed through the Department of Labor and Industry’s Reemployment Fund.