New 2.6-mile trail in Milford gets a boost

| 05 Mar 2015 | 02:58

— The Milford/Matamoras Chapter of Rotary International has committed $3,000 toward developing educational materials for a new hiking trail currently under development in the Milford Experimental Forest on Schocopee Road in Milford.

The trail is expected to open for education programs later this year.

The funds will be augment a matching grant from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

“The US Forest Service, the Pinchot family and our many partners and collaborators are excited to once again be offering educational programs on a piece of land that, almost a century ago, was used by students to learn and apply the 'new' science of forestry in America," said Bill Dauer, acting director of Grey Towers National Historic Site. "We are pleased to have Rotary International contributing to those efforts."

The Milford Experimental Forest is the 1,400-acre parcel surrounding Grey Towers, owned by the Pinchot family andbest known for the work of Gifford Pinchot, America’s first-born forester and two-term Governor of Pennsylvania. Gifford Pinchot founded and was named first chief of the US Forest Service. His family endowed the Yale School of Forestry to train students to practice forestry in America. The students learned their practical field work in the forests around Grey Towers from 1901-1926.

The Milford Experimental Forest is currently managed by descendants of Gifford Pinchot. It's a Forest Legacy site, which acknowledges its historic significance and gives it protection from development in perpetuity. As part of the Forest Legacy program, the land is also to be used for trails, public recreation and research.

Understanding the forestVolunteers with the Grey Towers Heritage Association and others have successfully developed a connecting 2.6-mile loop trail in the experimental forest, and are forming an education and interpretive plan that proposes a self-guided brochure, a kiosk, maps and directional trail signs and interpretive wayside exhibits. All the materials are geared toward educating visitors about the different demonstration areas located within the forest.

Funding also will used to enable visitors to gain web access to information about the forest, including downloadable maps, directions, hours and days of availability, safety instructions and contact information. QR codes will be added to the materials for visitors to learn more by using their digital devices.

The forest's multiple-use plan also includes hunting by the private Schocopee Hunt Club, research to restore a sustainable balance between the deer herd and the local ecosystems, and the restoration of species that are increasingly rare in the landscape, such as the American chestnut.

The trail brings visitors through a demonstration area for American chestnut re-introduction; a shelter wood harvest; a vernal pool; stream (Pinchot Brook) crossing; beaver meadow; a large deer enclosure, and other forest habitats. The new trail has already been used by hiking clubs, high-school environmental clubs, and training for regional school teachers.

The trail project has been supported by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, The Wallenpaupack Environmental Club, and the Syracuse University Forestry Club.

For more information call the Grey Towers Heritage Association at 570-296-9625.