Federal officials have brought trail improvements and weed treatments to areas of the Allegheny National Forest around the Allegheny Reservoir.
The new trail — Black Bear Trail — opened on Friday and is 1.8 miles in length.
A statement from ANF Public Affairs Officer Christopher Warner describes the trail as “connected to the Rimrock Loop trail, which is a part of the larger Morrison Trail System.”
He said the new trail, open for hiking and mountain bike riding, is rated moderate.
“USDA Forest Service Trails Technician Kyle Robb and an eight-person crew from the American Conservation Experience worked to complete this segment of trail in just under two weeks,” Warner said. “The joint crew spent countless hours breaking brush, grading dirt, removing and placing rocks, felling and removing trees, and placing signage throughout the trail.”
The ANF’s trail maintenance team will be working on the rest of the Morrison system for the next three weeks, Warner said, performing maintenance and upgrades.
Maps with the new trail will be posted at trailhead kiosks as well as at some junctions.
Federal crews have also been treating non-native invasive plants along Longhouse Drive since July 8.
“In order to be able to see what has and has not been sprayed, to minimize non-target plant spraying, a FDA approved blue marker dye is used,” Warner said. “The dye will fade within a few days and after a rain event as plants die from herbicide application. This work is part of the five-year non-native invasive plants treatment contract that was initiated last summer.”
The crews are specifically targeting Japanese stiltgrass and multiflora rose.
Those plants are most often found on the ANF “along road corridors,” are “starting to invade into the forest” and can cause a myriad number of problems including habitat degradation, changes to soil composition, reduction in tree seedling germination and recruitment and decreased plant and animal diversity.