Project Leader: Emma Strong, firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Dates: February 12, 2012 through December 21, 2012
•Synchronized trail counts for the 2012 trail season are wrapping up! The final count is set to take place September 22, from 12PM to 2PM.
o August’s synchronized trail count was another success. We have lucked out for each trail count so far this year, by being graced with gorgeous weather (knock on wood). All locations except for two were covered by volunteers from all over the GAP trail.
•Manual trail counts are still underway, lasting up until the weather permits, sometime in early November.
o TTOC is in the process of recruiting volunteers to assist staff with manual trail counts in addition to the synchronized counts. So far, several regular volunteers have displayed interest in helping TTOC staff with this simple, yet time-consuming process.
•High humidity, random thunder storms, and moisture this summer has plagued the Ohiopyle and Garrett trail counters, causing a lack in data and even data inaccuracy. To try and solve this troublesome problem, kitty litter has been placed within each trail counter, as well as extra-large sized desiccant packs. TTOC is keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that this simple solution resolves the moisture-related counter damage. If these methods are unsuccessful, then counter post ‘roofs’ will be placed along each location; allowing water runoff to divert away from the counter’s opening.
•TTOC’s concoction of lavender oil and bio-degradable soap so far seems to be an effective spider deterrent. Each counter has been treated with this eco-friendly nuisance repellent in hopes of keeping spiders away from the trail counter’s scope.
•Spiders might not like lavender, but that doesn’t mean that other animals don’t enjoy it. This month in Rockwood, I was performing a monthly, manual trail count when to my surprise I was greeted by a not-so-uncommon resident of Somerset County: a black bear. We both were very surprised by each other’s company. When alone and encountering a black bear, it is important to think clearly and fast. Running away in fear might be most people’s initial response, but that’s a dumb and very dangerous idea. As much as I wanted to run, I thought back to the training I received in college about what to do when encountering a black bear (grizzly bear encounters are handled in a different manner, keep in mind).
1. The first and most important thing to remember is DO NOT PANIC. Panicking or running can elicit a chase response from the black bear, causing injury or even worse death.
2. Keep distance, back away from the bear slowly so you don’t spook it any further, talking softly to the animal while not making direct eye contact (a sign of aggression).
3. Lift your hands over your head to make yourself look larger, this often times will scare the bear away from you because they are docile and rarely aggressive in nature.
•Although it is rare that a black bear will attack, there exist extreme cases where bears are unpredictable; that’s why it’s important to keep your cool and keep a clear head. Respect the animal and it will respect you.
•The Community Gardens are producing a plentiful amount of produce, leading to 219 total pounds donated so far to the Soup Kitchen and Food Bank. Sadly, the Soup Kitchen is no more, but instead the Salvation Army is putting together an office in town to help people with their utility and rent bills.
o Some plants are struggling because of the national drought, so we went and got materials to connect two rain barrels for up to four hundred pounds of water, or two fifty gallon drums of storage. We had to elevate the second drum to be level with the first, then drilled holes for the spigot and now need to drill holes for connecting them side by side.
o For the upcoming Sustainability fair, Dave Stupka has made a model of the sustainable water irrigation system for demonstration purposes, and we plan to have an interactive presentation where all that is needed is a watering can, and some water for it. We will have someone from the audience sprinkle the water in the can over the scale model, showing that the water is retained in the system. I plan to take apart the current compost bin at the armory plot and lay out all the pieces after separating the crates, to see what materials from the list I need to build a new and improved compost list. I also plan to make more lattices soon.
•The Trail Town Outreach Corps is helping to plan a Sustainability Fair in Connellsville. The event will be held on the weekend of September 8 & 9 in Yough Park. The event will include workshops on recycling, green building, and sustainable watering methods for gardens. There will also be a farmers market, musical entertainment, food, and vendors with information about solar energy, sustainable forestry, and energy efficiency.
~Cara Madden and Rachael Christie
ATA Board Meeting
•On Friday August 10 the Trail Town Outreach Corps attended the August Allegheny Trail Alliance Board Meeting in West Newton. We learned about current happenings along the trail, and gave a presentation regarding the progress we have made in our projects this year. It was beneficial to meet with Board members from all the different Trail Towns and share information.
•A GAP SBN member networking event is being planned for Wednesday, November 7th at the Connellsville Bed & Breakfast.
•Information about a small business grant for sustainability improvements through the PA Department of Environmental Protection is being distributed to GAP SBN member businesses. For more information, interested business can go to this webpage: http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-89645/0320-BK-DEP....
•I have completed a rough draft of the downtown West Newton historic walking tour brochure. When complete, the brochure will be available at the West Newton welcome center. With this brochure, visitors can take a self-guided tour through town by way of fascinating historical buildings.
•On Friday, August 31 the Trail Town Outreach corps performed a field work day in West Newton. We weeded the garden beds in front of the welcome center, and picked up trash from the lawns and parking lots surrounding the trail heads. This clean up was in preparation of the annual Labor Day Poker on the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton, organized by the Westmoreland Yough Trail Chapter.
•On Monday August 27, some representatives from the USDA department or Rural Development took a tour of West Newton, to discuss initiatives of the Trail Town Program. We took an interesting walk around town as TTOC members answered questions regarding our projects.
~ Cara Madden
•The YRTC and TTOC did a cleanup/beautification project of Connellsville near the Caboose, as well as near the 3rd st. raised garden beds on August 16th, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30a.m. We did approximately .4 acres of beautification prior to the Connellsville triathlon, pulling weeds, cutting brush, and picking up trash.
•The Connellsville Triathlon attracted between seventy and eighty people, well over what the organizers had expected. Cara and I helped out by directing runners where to go near Yough River Park, but there was some confusion where the lead car was supposed to guide the runners, and a large section of competitors went the wrong way. I seemed to notice that myself when some of the first people out of the swimming section were well behind others after the running section, and their fitness levels not matching their current place in the race. Overall it went well, but there was some disappointment with the overall direction of the race.
~ Joe Crumbley
•Over Labor Day weekend, the 24th annual Music In The Mountains Festival was held in Ohiopyle. The free event included arts & crafts vendors, food, and a diverse selection of musical entertainment; all located by the Ohiopyle falls!
~Cara Madden and Joe Crumbley
•At the beginning of August, Confluence had the first annual Mt. Davis Challenge. It's a 42 mile bike race that goes to the top of Mt. Davis and back to Confluence. The bicyclists raced up hilly back roads and traversed the highest point in Pennsylvania! The day started off sunny and hot and all of the 42 volunteers gathered in central square to prepare for the race. After going over safety instructions and getting our assignments, we headed off to various stations to direct traffic or provide water to the racers. I volunteered to do traffic control at intersection 5 - I made sure to keep an eye for vehicles so the bicyclists could race safely. It was going very well until about mid-way through the race and a thunderstorm starting brewing up. Even though the rain made the roads more dangerous, all the cyclists made it back to Confluence. It was a crazy day with the changing weather, but it was a lot of fun and really cool to be part of the race!
•This weekend, cyclists will be enjoying That Dam Ride - a loop starting in Boston or Connellsville and riding to Confluence to stay overnight.
•On October 5, 6 & 7, Confluence will be hosting Pumpkinfest. It will be a lot of fun with a parade, largest pumpkin contest, arts & crafts fair, 5K run/walk, and live music!
•Beautification project #1 took place, the last Thursday of August. Along with the help of my co-workers, we were able to stain the ENTIRE gazebo at the south side of the trail head in one day. We applied two coats of stain, making sure not to miss any of the small detailing. This was a more time-consuming process than I had anticipated, but it was well worth the hard work that my team provided.
oPermission and special thanks for this project goes to RAMA and my project partner, owner of one of the local businesses in town.
•Plans for more town beautification are underway and will be finalized after September’s RAMA meeting. Plans so far consist of several plantings along the trail head, as well as in town. A trail clean-up will also be in order some time next month.
•The 100th anniversary celebration for Meyersdale’s train station is set for next month, Saturday, September 29. I, along with many others will be volunteering/participating in this historic celebration. Plans for this exciting event are still underway.
•The trail head beautification project for Meyersdale is in the final planning stage. The issues and doubts about the reality of this trail improvement have been wiped out, and now we can continue to move forward. The project consists of three separate phases that will be completed at different times (funding dependent).
1. Maple tree planting (400 ft. of land, planting of 10 maple trees with 40 foot space between to allow for mature growth).
2. Interpretive signage (create and design educational plaques that outline the maple sugaring process).
3. Plant cover crop (native wildflowers such as crown vetch, etc. to shield ground and enhance the welcoming entrance into town).
o It is projected that the tree plantings will convene in the early November, allowing enough time for the trees to establish themselves in the soil prior to winter.
•Frostburg is having a 200th anniversary celebration! There will be live music, parades, the Queen's Ball, history demonstrations, and an arts and crafts fair.
Preparation, planning, and the ride from Pittsburgh to Connellsville went smoothly, hindered only by the mild heat and sore seats. We rode a substantial distance, 52 miles, but encountered fairly low elevation gain. We rode under a clear sky with high humidity but with temperatures only in the mid-eighties. Some of us were able to wash off the grime in the river from time to time, a nice way to sooth aching muscles.
We started near the Waterfront in Pittsburgh, and the majority of the days’ hills were comprised of climbing above the multiple overpasses and train tracks, crossing bridges and cutting through hillsides. There were some holdups between the Waterfront and McKeesport, causing us to get off our bikes and walk around the construction flagging, manholes, and building rubble. This was the least scenic and probably the most dangerous of the ride. During some sections you must dismount with only the busy road on which to walk your bike. Of course, this was just a momentary lapse of safety and scenery, which will hopefully clear up as soon as the construction does.
Once we got through that area we followed the river a little more consistently, and the wind off the river was pleasant and refreshing. The rabbits became more plentiful, along with the numerous wildflowers, including Lilies, Deep Pink Daisies, and Queen Anne’s Lace. It became more and more rural, but public restrooms, picnic areas, water pumps, and campgrounds were still fairly prevalent.
Our lunch break at the Trailside in West Newton was refreshing and tasty, and justly named as we barely needed to step off the trail to satisfy our hunger. Decently priced with accommodating options, it was easy to meet everyone’s needs. After filling ourselves and hydrating for the second half of the ride, we set out once more.
One of the more common complaints we have heard among trail users this summer is the lack of water along the trail. From what we found there wasn’t an incredibly distant stretch of trail between these rest stops. Of course many variables are involved in this, such as personal health, trip preparation, temperature, humidity, and the amount of water you bring with you. There are many accessible hydration calculators free online, and I found that according to the weather, my weight, the fact that if was fairly humid, and that I wasn’t sick at the time, that I should have drank 107.5 ounces or 3.2 liters of water for every ninety minutes that I was riding. I personally only ended up drinking approximately three liters of water while riding between five and six hours that day, not disproving this online calculator, only showing that hydration levels vary person to person, and to be over prepared is your best bet. As a friend once told me, “safety’s no accident” (Sources: CDC: Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp).
Along the way we spotted some Cardinals, Monarch Butterflies, hummingbirds, and heard the chirping of many subsequent species throughout. During our swim breaks, swallows and dragonflies would surround us swooping and skimming the water’s surface. The lush and distant mountains seemed hazy with the humidity blurring their distinction with heat waves.
Signage in these rural towns was very helpful, and whether it was a business or someone’s backyard, for the most part they were well kept and served as a pleasant foreground to the backdrop of dense green forests. With numerous waterfalls often discolored by the plentiful minerals and remnants of acid mine drainage, the scenery became reminiscent of a once booming economy centered on natural resource extraction industries. Seeing this we realize how the needs once met by these plentiful resources have had to be met in other ways as time has progressed and resource accessibility has dwindled. As we finished riding, the imprint of the landscape and its future became embedded in my mind as the minerals were in the rocks and clay of the cascading red, white, and blue waterfalls.
~ Joe Crumbley
- We had a great volunteer turn out for the July 10 synchronized count! All locations except for 2 were full. I had to volunteer in Boston, which I didn’t mind in the least bit! Overall, the weather was beautiful and there were lots of trail users out that morning. This data should be interesting to compare to future 2012 synchronized trail counts!
- The data that our volunteers collect(ed) will be compiled at the end of the year into a trail use report that will further help TTOC, other trail organizations, and local businesses understand how much traffic the GAP trail received during the 2012 trail season.
- The success of the July synchronized count will hopefully be mirrored on the August 12 trail count. I have been busy planning and advertising for this count that’s right around the corner! We are still seeking numerous volunteers to help with the trail count; it’s hard to recruit people during August mostly because everyone is going on vacation. TTOC continues to seek volunteers, so if interested please contact us! The count will take place 12 PM to 2 PM.
- Our manual trail counts are a bit behind for July due to weather, vacations, and other unpredictable circumstances. We are currently making up for our lost time/information by conducting our July counts now.
- Unlike last month’s spider debacle, I’m happy to announce that the Deal counter no longer has a spider living inside of the scope! However, as a preventative measure, I researched ‘spider deterrents’ online, finding a list of IPM methods. The most reasonable and sensible idea was to concoct a spray of dish detergent and essential oils (lavender, tea tree, etc.) to keep spiders at bay. I tested this method today, so we will see how well it works when I’m out on the trail doing next month’s manual count!
- We are concerned that many of the trail counters are very wet. We are currently research methods to keep the counters dry to protect this equipment.
Updates will be posted next month, so stay tuned…
- The rack card has been completed and ordered. It will soon be delivered to all trail towns, and Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network member businesses.
- The sustainable supplier guide is a long-term project that I have been working on. So far I have compiled information about sustainable brands, and where they can be purchased locally. My next step is to gather information about local organic farms. Once is it complete, I hope it will be a helpful resource for GAP SBN members to use in implementing sustainable purchasing policies.
- We are continuing with monthly blogs which you can read at www.gapsbn.org
~ Cara Madden
We held a community garden planting at the Community Center in Connellsville. We had a boy volunteer named Robert who was a great help, and who we’ll try to get to come help at our next event. Recently another Connellsville resident talked about helping out too, so both of them can come next time we harvest vegetables or something along those lines.
On 7/11 we harvested thirty pounds of produce from the Armory plot garden and gave it to the food bank. They were well received, people were very pleased. There were peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, swiss chard, and onions. The harvesting is always fun, and the only downside was that there were a couple of zucchini and squash that we got to too late and the sun had already done its damage. I’ve relayed the message to other co-workers responsible for watering, that any time they see something ripe just pick it and either give it to the food bank themselves, or bring it to the office sometime soon so that I can bring it to the food bank.
In addition, I am continuing work on developing an in-ground watering system to reduce water needs in raised beds and am building bamboo trellises.
Recently, I made deliveries of Trail Town Ice Cream to West Newton, Connellsville, & Ohiopyle. Delivering ice cream in coolers gets the job done, but I am working on a plan to improve ice cream transport for the next year. We added a new retailer in West Newton called Scoops N’at which is located right along the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.
- I have begun formatting and arranging the photos and info for a historic walking tour brochure of West Newton
- We have acquired the necessary support from the Westmoreland Yough Trail Chapter and Bright Morning Bed & Breakfast for our plan to plant wildflowers along the GAP trail in West Newton
- Yough River Trail Council meeting: Proposed cancelation of giant dumpster near trail at Dunbar, but prevalence of waste concluded that garbage would plague the trail if they did. Issue of others dumping couches, beds, and other items not allowed in container.
- Connellsville City Council meeting 7-8:30 p.m. –cutting budget on garbage cans throughout city, despite litter problem. This has been caused by costly bags and lid-less cans causing workers to poke holes in them to lift into the truck, putting garbage water in the streets, as well as having to pay workers to pick them up. I find it interesting that the city council didn’t come to the same conclusion as the Y.R.T.C. on the same issue brought up in both meetings. Multiple people including myself brought up town clean up/beautification events, but it’s going to take more than community members cleaning up when the waste disposal budget is getting cut.
- Earlier this month a number of TTOC members attended a meeting at Highlands Hospital to discuss their application for a fruit tree orchard through the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. In the coming weeks, Rachael and I will be playing a role in researching and writing the grant with Highlands Hospital.
- We have received example signs & pricing info to make informed decisions about which signs to be used in the Adopt-A-Bioswale program
- Once a number of businesses have signed onto the program, we will hold a bioswale cleanup night to discuss proper bioswale maintenance
- Joe and I attended the Clean Water Camp in Ohiopyle on July 17th. The event was organized by the Mountain Watershed Association to educate the community about watershed awareness and how to protect clean water. Joe and I talked about how bioswales filter water, and discussed our role in the Ohiopyle Adopt-A-Bioswale program. We then walked event attendees through a few bioswales, to see firsthand how they impact the environment.
~ Cara Madden
- In Confluence, the Creative Arts Center worked with volunteers to create two murals along the Great Allegheny Passage. The colorful murals are located on the Ramcat underpass that crosses over the bike trail. The artist, Eddie Maier, outlined the design and we all painted the sections. It was like a giant paint-by-numbers! On one of the murals, there are mosaic fish created with pieces of stained glass and mirror. The fish really catch the light and add life to the murals. Creating the fish was one of my favorite parts as some of the local kids and I had a great time picking out the mosaic pieces, fitting all the pieces into the fish just the right way, and seeing how our collaborative efforts created a really nice art piece.
- The next big event in Confluence is the Mount Davis Challenge which is a bike race from Confluence to the highest point in Pennsylvania on August 4. I will be volunteering to help direct the bicyclists as they race the course up and down the mountain.
- The mural in the center of town, in front of the monument appears to have been completed. Owing tribute to our great nation’s patriotism, the mural consists of a bald eagle alongside the American flag.
- There has not been a lot going on in Rockwood the past few months, so I don’t have a lot to report on town happenings. However I do have some information about projects that I will be working on in this trail town:
-I am currently in the planning/preparation stages for my beautification projects within the town. I plan on re-staining the gazebo in the main area of town, as well as following through with other side projects that will help me to meet my requirements. A bike loop is also on my list for projects to complete during my time with the SCA. Planning on this loop will begin next month!
- The July 1st (Independence Day) Celebration was a hit within the community! Although business owners claim that there weren’t as many participants as previous years, the turnout was still decent.
- I have also begun the planning stages for a historic walking tour that will highlight culturally, as well as historically significant buildings, businesses, and whatever else the town deems important. I plan to team with Meyersdale’s Historical Society for this project so that I can better learn what locations should/need to be highlighted. This project is mostly a way to educate tourists/trail users, while also offering a fun, alternative activity to another bike loop throughout town. This tour will have concise, but detailed information about Meyersdale’s historic places that deserve to be in the spotlight.
- Another beautification project is underway with the revamping of the Meyersdale trailhead near the train station. This area has been unkempt for some time and it needs a little TLC to help create a warm welcome for trail users entering into Meyersdale. I will be partnering with Levi Deal’s owner, Jan Dofner, to create a detailed plan for this plot of land; she will be with me throughout the entirety of the project, from planting to the creation of interpretive signage. I don’t want to give all of our ideas away just now, but if you keep posted to my updates each month, you can find out more!
Frostburg and Cumberland
- Not a whole lot is going on in Maryland, although Mountain Maryland Trails are waiting on feasibility studies for trail improvements.
- Trail of Dreams, a bike ride and train ride between Frostburg and Cumberland is coming up in early August.
- The Frostburg Farmers Market is very successful this year.
•This month I got started on one of my main projects of the year in West Newton. This is a walking tour of the town that will include stops at historical buildings. I am looking forward to creating a brochure that will guide tourists around the town and point out interesting facts about the town’s history. Currently I am gathering information and photos of the stops I plan to include in the tour.
•In the month of June, Connellsville hosted Braddock’s Crossing and Art on the Yough on the 24th. At The crossing, people dressed in old fashioned garb, shot off blanks from muskets and crossed the Youghiogheny River, reenacting Braddock’s Crossing at t he same location. At the Art on the Yough there was live music covering classic rock, and many kids activities including kite painting and sock puppet making.
•A Penndot Crosswalk compliance survey was completed near third st, and another one is set to take place soon for first street, which will eventually instate a “yield to pedestrians it’s the law” sign.
•The Caboose Welcome Center grand opening was a success, bringing in the local media and trail group, as well as many community members to support the event. The Welcome Center is now open to support the needs of trail users as they pass through Connellsville on the Great Allegheny Passage.
•In Ohiopyle the Adopt-A-Bioswale program is underway. Businesses have begun to sign onto the program, and we will be receiving some sample signs next week. The Adopt-A-Bioswale program will allow businesses in Ohiopyle to volunteer to tend a bioswale on the main road through the borough in exchange for having an Adopt-A-Bioswale sign with their business name placed in the bioswale.
~Cara Madden and Joe Crumbley
•Attended Somerset County Rails to Trails Association meeting in June and talked with the group about Great Allegheny Passage cleanups and improvements
•Beautification project: flower planting around gazebo in the main square
•On June 30th, Confluence held its annual Old Home Day – a day filled with music, food, and Civil War & WWII re-enactments.
•That Dam Ride: September 8 – 9, 2012: overnight bicycle ride starting in Boston or Connellsville and ending in Confluence, PA along the Great Allegheny Passage
•Mt. Davis Challenge: August 4, 2012: 42 mile race that traverses the highest point in Pennsylvania
•On July 9, there will be a final public meeting for the Rockwood Amtrak Train Feasibility Study on at the Rockwood Fire Hall.
•3D sidewalk art is currently being created near the memorial in Rockwood.
•Trail counts continue in Rockwood to help compile data for the entire trail use season
•Similarly to Meyersdale, I will also become involved with various town projects to work toward my beautification goals.
•July 1st marks Meyersdale’s Independence Day parade and celebration. Festivities begin in the late afternoon, spilling over into the evening.
•Meyersdale Area Merchants Association will be hosting their annual meeting on July 9th.
•I will be overseeing several beautification projects within the town; actual project specifics are still to be decided.
•The Deal trail counter was not working properly, only for TTOC to discover the presence of a huge spider’s nest covering the counter’s scope lens. Needless to say, the spider caused us to lose all of our trail use data from the end of May till mid-June.
Maryland – Frostburg and Cumberland
•Frostburg Appalachian Festival: September 14 & 15, 2012–Frostburg’s 200th Anniversary
Currently, I am taking re-orders for Trail Town Ice Cream and planning to deliver about mid-July. It's one of my goals to try them all - every Trail Town has its unique flavor. Frostburg Freeze is pretty good - Raspberry ice cream with Oreo chunks. I hear that it makes a great milkshake.
We have also begun discussion about developing a sustainable method of transportation for Trail Town Ice Cream. This is currently in the beginning stages.
~ Michelle Rapp
- There was a new installation of a raised garden bed at the Armory Garden in Connellsville, and a water efficient irrigation system will be installed there shortly. This will be used to demonstrate water saving techniques in backyard gardens.
- The Armory garden is bursting with plant life, and a new rain barrel has been added for the extra hot summer. Okra and Raspberries were recently donated to the gardens, and throughout the year the majority of the success attributed to the rapid plant growth in these two garden locations was from local nurseries and community member’s generous donations.
- Because of the unpredictable weather, native wildflower seeds were re-planted on the fifteenth at the pre-school playground border near the Great Allegheny Trailhead going south towards Ohiopyle, and are now sprouting up quite nicely.
~ Joe Crumbley
-Trail season is now in full swing this month! TTOC is now fully-involved in trail use monitoring from now until November.
-Trail use will now also be monitored in Sutersville, PA to provide even more data for future trail use reports. Other TTOC trail monitoring sites include Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Smithon, Rockwood, Garrett, and Deal.
- TTOC has been performing manual counts monthly at the locations mentioned above. During trail count training with me, Michelle, and Emma this month, we encountered some unexpected road blocks.
At our Deal location, the counter located at the Eastern Continental Divide, we discovered that a fuzzy, fanged friend had made his home in the wooden hole where the counter scope peaks out. After much innovation, we attached a Q-tip to a wooden stick and dug out the thick, cotton ball like web, and urged the big black spider out. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of trail use data since the spider and web blocked the scope from doing its job. But the situation is currently under control.
In addition two of our counter posts were installed in the wrong locations (south of the trail heads rather than north), so we got a great bike workout trying to find out counters!
-I have been very busy planning the July synchronized trail count, where we have many trail volunteers stationed at many trail heads along the GAP for a two-hour, synchronized count. Although coordinating the schedules of over 15 volunteers has been challenging, we are ready for a great count during the second week in July.
- The time of the August synchronized trail count has been changed to 12PM to 2PM. We still need volunteers to help out in McKeesport, West Newton (north and south trailheads), Cedar Creek Park, Smithton, Rockwood (north trailhead), Garrett (north and south trailheads), Deal (trailhead), Frostburg, and Cumberland.
~ Rachael Christie
One of the fun things that we do are the manual trail counts. It is a great way to meet trail users while gaining data on how many people are using the trail. We check the data from the manual trail counts against the information gathered by the infrared counters. For the manual trail counts, we ask for zip codes. A lot of people are from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland, but I had one couple tell me they were from Germany!
On July 4th, I did a trail count at Smithton, PA. I met a lot of nice people - some of them stopped and we talked about the Great Allegheny Passage. One guy told me that after the count, I should go to West Newton and check the Trailside: a restaurant and bike shop along the bike trail. I set up for the count across from a Tufa cascade formation which is a deposit of limestone - like the stalactites hanging from the ceilings of caves. The sign said the Tufa waterfall is estimated at 12,000 years old. It's also a cool place to hang out on a hot day with the mountain water misting into the air.
Summer Reading Extravaganza
On Sunday June 10 I represented TTOC at the 12th Annual Summer Reading Extravaganza hosted by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. At this event I had a table filled with TTOC and Great Allegheny Passage information materials. I introduced event attendees to the TTOC program, as well as promoted the projects we have implemented in the region. In addition I discussed the opportunity for bike trips along the GAP trail and distributed resources for trip planning.
Buy Local Radio Show
On Friday, June 22, Michelle and I were guests on the Buy Local radio show on 590 WMBS. We had a fun time promoting the community gardens that we hope to plant in all of the trail towns this year. We also shared some tips for seed starting and organic pest control.
~ Cara Madden
During the month of June I made significant progress with the GAP SBN.
• The rack card I designed has been finalized, and we are in the stage of collecting price quotes, and determining how many should be ordered. The rack card will be used to inform trail users of sustainable businesses along the Great Allegheny Passage.
•I completed sustainability assessments for 3 businesses. These were Gram Gram’s Place in Meyersdale, The Hostel on Main in Rockwood, and The Rockwood Mill Shoppes in Rockwood. While all of these businesses were already GAP SBN members, their rankings needed to adjusted to our new assessment criteria, which awards a certain number of green leaves to each business depending on its assessment results.
•The next big project that I began this month is a sustainable supplier guide. This document will be distributed to all GAP SBN members, enabling them to make informed sustainable purchases. The guide will include a breakdown of the eco-labeling process. Then it will include an encyclopedia of eco-friendly brands, the green practices that make their brand beneficial, and how/where to purchase their products. Finally, the third section will be about local sustainable suppliers, with a focus on any organic farms.
•I continue to post a weekly GAP SBN blog with tips and resources for small sustainable business owners. Check it out and subscribe at http://www.trailtowns.org/sbn/blog.aspx
•I also have continued to send out monthly network updates, keeping member businesses in the loop about any new developments they may be interested in.
~ Cara Madden
Michelle Rapp grew up in a rural community near the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Landscape Architecture and an emphasis in Environmental Planning. She worked at Fallingwater one summer and wants to support the local communities she enjoyed while working there. Michelle is interested in building stronger communities through sustainable economic development and stewardship of natural and cultural resources. In her free time, Michelle enjoys hiking, drawing, photography and meeting new people.
Rachael Christie is a western Pennsylvania native. As recent college graduate from Slippery Rock University, Rachael earned her B.S. in park and resource management with an emphasis in environmental education, along with receiving a minor in biology. Immersed in nature as a child and throughout her adolescence, Rachael credits her deep-rooted conservation ethics to the influence of her father and grandmother. Past involvement with the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education (PCEE), Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources (DCNR), Student Conservation Association (SCA), and other environmental organizations has fueled Rachael’s passion for educating others about the natural environment. Her love of nature and the outdoors also spills over into her personal life, where her hobbies include running, biking, and cooking.
- Trail Town Ice Cream was delivered to West Newton, Connellsville, Ohiopyle, Confluence, and Meyersdale on May 17th, and should be available in Rockwood as well.
- Three new businesses have been stocked with trail town ice cream, the Bright Morning Bed & Breakfast in West Newton, The White House Restaurant in Meyersdale and the Meyersdale branch of the Somerset Trust. Restaurants have served the ice cream before but the Somerset Trust which will be serving the ice cream as a part of an event represents a new kind of customer.
~ Kaleb Shissler