Allegheny National Forest Centennial GeoTrail Project Underway
Penn Soil Resource Conservation & Development Council (Penn Soil RC&D) and Allegheny National Forest of the U. S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture have entered into a challenge cost share agreement for Penn Soil RC&D to develop, install, and steward an Allegheny National Forest (ANF) Centennial geocaching trail to commemorate the ANF Centennial. The theme for the Centennial is Recovery to Resilience-100 Years of Growth since the Allegheny National Forest was created on September 24, 1923. The ANF Centennial GeoTrail will feature up to 28 special geocaches placed throughout the four counties that contain Allegheny National Forest land (Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren counties).
Geocaching has become increasingly popular in the last two decades for recreation users and families to explore the outdoors and learn about various topics. This would be the first ANF sponsored Geocache trail, and would provide opportunities for recreation users to explore, connect to the outdoors, and learn about the history and ecology of the Forest. This project would benefit natural and cultural resources on the Forest through providing environmental education and interpretation on natural resources such as wildlife habitats, non-native invasive species, waterways, and heritage (cultural history) resources. This allows visitors who participate in this activity to enhance their understanding of various natural resources and contribute towards resource protection through leaving no trace, respecting wildlife and cultural resources, and helping protect area waterways.
This project supports objectives and goals for the Allegheny National Forest Strategic Plan and the Penn Soil RC&D Strategic Plan. ANF Forest Supervisor Jamie Davidson notes that she is excited to offer this opportunity for the public in partnership with Penn Soil RC&D. “This GeoTrail has a strong focus on the diverse natural and heritage resources on the ANF, and will allow visitors to enjoy and learn about some of the rich history of the Allegheny National Forest. We encourage you to get out and experience this opportunity, as well as the many other opportunities and events occurring this year to commemorate the Allegheny National Forest Centennial.”
The ANF Centennial GeoTrail caches will all be placed by Penn Soil RC&D trained volunteers with materials supplied through a Forest Service Cost Share Agreement with Penn Soil RC&D at specific locations suggested by ANF staff and tourism promotion agencies of each county. The exact locations will be published on the website www.geocaching.com where GPS coordinates and a description of the location will be provided. Geocaching enthusiasts who visit the national forest and find a minimum of five of the special ANF Centennial geocaches in each of the four counties will be eligible to earn an ANF Centennial Souvenir reward token trackable on geocaching.com. These tokens have been jointly funded by other partners in the project including Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, and Warren County Visitors Bureau.
According to Wes Ramsey, Executive Director of Penn Soil RC&D Council, the project officially began on March 17, 2023 when the agreement was finalized. Since then, Penn Soil RC&D has initiated acquiring the necessary materials and supplies, completed the design process for the production of the trackable reward token, coordinated the list of potential Centennial geocache locations with the project partners, and has begun recruiting the volunteers to place and maintain the special ANF Centennial geocaches. Although some program details are still being worked out, the ANF Centennial GeoTrail is expected to be fully operational by early summer.