Camp Hill, PA –The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF), the only non-profit whose mission is Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, announced the success of the fundraising goal for the restoration of the chimneys and fireboxes in the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail’s eight shelter areas. The overwhelming public support of the project has made additional improvements possible as well.
“The generosity of Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail enthusiasts not only empowered the restoration of the shelter chimneys, it will improve the overall experience while also protecting the natural aspects of the trail,” said Marci Mowery, President of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation.
Over the past four years, with assistance from REI, the Laurel Highlands Ultra, the Friends of Laurel Hill, the Ridge Runners, PPFF, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, five of the eight shelter areas have seen their chimneys and fireboxes restored, with work on the final three to be completed in the Spring of 2018.
“The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is among our state’s most popular trails, drawing hikers from across Pennsylvania and far beyond,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “It is most gratifying, yet not surprising, that so many should rally around this trail shelter renovation effort, spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation.”
“The response to this effort has been outstanding; corporate grant funding, private donations, endowment contributions, and volunteer efforts have been the backbone behind the funding portion of this project, said Mike Mumau, Park Manager Laurel Hill State Park Complex. “ We can’t thank all of the partners enough for their vision and generosity.”
Other much appreciated improvements will include installation of flagstone between the chimneys and lean-tos at each shelter to eliminate muddy patches at the shelter entrances, firewood shelters, and improvements to tenting sites. The restoration of these Adirondack-style shelters will provide unique camping experiences for several future generations.
“The shelters are one of the highlights of the trail, making camping much more enjoyable for beginning and experienced hikers,” said Ted Massa, long-time volunteer maintainer, devoted to the LHHT. “These repairs will allow future generations of hikers to enjoy the trail experience.”
A volunteer work day, with a Re-dedication Ceremony is being planned for June 2, 2018.
The public can still support the expanded project by making a donation to the fund or adopting a shelter, for which they will receive a before and after picture, an adoption certificate, and their name in the park office at Laurel Hill State Park. Checks can be sent to PPFF at 1845 Market Street, Suite 202, Camp Hill, PA 17011, with LHHT in the memo. Donations may also be made online at the LHHT Shelters Fund page of the Foundation’s website.
About the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Founded in 1999, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation supports 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest by coordinating volunteers, activities and donations through its 40 chapters. The mission of the foundation is to inspire stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests through public engagement in volunteerism, recreation and conservation. paparksandforests.org @PaPFF