Second Laurel Highlands Summit to Focus on Eco-Tourism

Trail, conservation, and tourism advocates have planned a day-long Laurel Highlands Summit to support the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 4 at the Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

The summit’s speakers and educational sessions will be appropriate for elected officials, planners, tourism representatives, local businesses, and trail, watershed and land-conservation advocates.  Registration is open and can be done online at Registration deadline is March 25.

The keynote speaker will be Todd Poole, president and managing principal of 4ward Planning.  Poole is a land-use economist specializing in quantifying impacts of land-use policies.  His areas of practice include economic comparisons of land-use options; economic-impact analyses; and economic value and revenue generation for parks, trails and open space. His presentation will identify trends that bode favorably for trail patronage and associated economic opportunity, and regional and national best-case examples from which attendees might benefit.

Nine concurrent break-out sessions will be held, three in each of three tracks:

  • Track 1 will focus on trails with sessions on getting started on trail development, community-based trail planning, and telling your trail’s story – interpreting the historic, scenic or natural features that will attract more people to explore a trail, park or community.
  • Track 2 will help local non-profits develop the tools and capacity they need to successfully take on projects with sessions on funding, social networking and tools for small organizations.
  • Track 3 on conservation issues will have sessions ; buy-local farming and farmland preservation, and landscape biodiversity

The Conservation Landscape Initiative was created by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and numerous non-profit and local government.  The vision is to protect the unique character of the region and recognize its communities as world-class heritage/recreation destinations as well as wonderful places to work, live and play.  More information is available at

The summit is made possible with support from the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society and DCNR’s Pennsylvania Recreational Trails Program funded through the Federal Highway Administration.

For information and reservation materials, see or call (412) 481-9400.