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Environment & Energy

Celebrating 100 Icons of State Parks and Forests

When you think of must-see parks in Pennsylvania, what comes to mind? Point State Park? Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County? Hillman State Park in Washington County?

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation is encouraging state residents to participate in the 100 Icons of Summer Campaign to nominate their favorite parks and forests. These submissions should reflect what residents “see” after closing their eyes and then thinking of their parks and forests. Throughout May and June, the foundation will accept suggestions for the 100 icons.

“We think that Pennsylvanians really embrace their parks and forests and would love to share what they think is most important about their parks and forests, those symbols that represent parks and forests to them,” said Marci Mowery, president of the Parks and Forests Foundation.

Once all the submissions are in, a committee will choose the 100 they think best encompass Pennsylvania’s nature. Then, from June 21 through September 28, the foundation will release an icon each day through social media, including Facebook and Instagram, and its weekly electronic newsletter.

The foundation hopes to show off the beautiful venues from every region.

“We would like a statewide representation of both parks and forests, so we will be looking at that. We also know we have several nominations that have come through that have multiple items at one park,” said Mowery.  “So, we really want to make sure we have a good representation of everything that there is in Pennsylvania and a good cross-representation.”

Some examples Mowery gave for consideration in southwestern Pennsylvania include: the Mt. Davis fire tower in the Forbes State Forest, wild flowers at the Jennings Environmental Center in Butler County, the fountain at Point State Park, and the Civilian Conservation Corps Dam at Laurel Hill State Park. 

Pennsylvania is home to 120 state parks and 20 forest districts, which cover an estimated 2.2 million acres of land.

“We think it will encourage people to go out and say ‘Hey, I want to see that’, ‘that’s really unique’, or ‘that would be important to me as well,’” said Mowery. “We’re hoping it encourages people to visit our parks and forests and maybe give them some new ideas of things that they might want to see or do.”

And if you’d like to visit, Mowery pointed out that there are no admission charges or parking fees at any of the parks.

The foundation wants nominations before June 15 that tell what the icon is, the location of the icon, the nominator, and e-mail address of the nominator.  Photographs may also be attached with the descriptions.

With great parks across the state, Mowery hopes that everyone will use this campaign as a way to explore all the natural options Pennsylvania has to offer.

“We have a very rich natural and cultural heritage in Pennsylvania and this is just a different approach to building awareness about that system," Mowery said.