The momentum and partnerships for the Trails at Jakes Rocks continues to grow.
Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways (PKP) and the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) announced this week that both, Clarion University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), have joined University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in providing students the opportunity to gain field work experience. Allegheny National Forest (ANF) protocol requires an environmental study and a heritage study on the proposed trail corridors for the mountain bicycling system to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Pitt Bradford is already handling the biology and environmental aspects. Clarion and IUP will team up for the heritage and historical requirements.
The teams anticipate field work to be concluded by the second week of August. ANF Planning Team Leader Steve Dowlan and ANF Natural Resource Specialist, Ava Turnquist said the students will be prepared to hit the ground running. Dowlan and Turnquist will be working with the teams and preparing them by reviewing safety, conduct, study requirements, ANF protocols, and a detailed list of what to look for while out there.
Dr. Beverly Chiarulli, Associate Professor of Anthropology at IUP said, "this is a great opportunity for students from our MA in Applied Archaeology. It will provide two students with an opportunity to work with the ANF Archaeologists, gain experience as crew chiefs on a complex field project and be part of a partnership with the local community. This is exactly the kind of training and experience our students need to become professional archaeologists."
Dr. Stephen Robar, the Pitt-Bradford contingent said, "I am looking forward to, and I know the students are as well, working with students from both Clarion and IUP. The opportunity for students to speak and work with students from other universities provides great opportunities to network and learn new perspectives,"
Dr. Susan Prezzano, Professor at Clarion University said, "it will provide an incredible learning experience for Clarion University undergraduates who will obtain hands-on field training in archaeology and who will also have the opportunity to interact with graduate students from IUP."
PKP member Joe Colosimo said "this is beginning to look like an academic all-star team. We are excited to have these two great universities join the team. Clarion and IUP have strong reputations and respected archaeology programs."
Starting in July, students will break into teams and will begin studying, documenting, photographing, and indexing any historically significant items like rock houses or other dwellings used by people in the past. The students will provide the ANF information that will satisfy their NEPA requirements.
Jim Decker of the WCCBI said, " the involvement of Clarion, IUP and Pitt-Bradford in completing the necessary field assessments and proposal development represents a unique partnership with the Allegheny National Forest which provides for timely and cost-effective completion of the required work as well as valuable hands-on experience for the students from each university within their chosen career fields."
Decker continued, "since its inception as a Leadership Warren County class project, the Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways focus has been on developing relationships and partnerships which focus on the collaboration of unique resources which effect positive outcomes."
"To date we have invested over $100,000 and thousands of volunteer hours in the design and marketing of the idea. We have been able to build partnerships with a large number of local and regional organizations", says Colosimo.
This project will benefit Northwest Pennsylvania as a whole. The target market for potentials visitors is as far as four to six hours away. There will be only three main arteries that can be used to get to this trail system, Routes 6, 62 and 59. "The communities along all these routes should see a positive economic impact." said Colosimo. "Through the energetic and inspiring efforts of the Pennsylvania Wilds, we have 12 counties starting to work together to promote the entire area as a whole."
PKP's Ines Nelson said "within the Pa Wilds region, we have some amazing cultural, artisan, natural, and historical assets and resources that are of great value and simply not available anywhere else in the US. These are unique to our region."
The group is still looking for additional donors to support the stipend needs of the project.