John Quigley, Acting Secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, recently toured Ohiopyle, Connellsville and Laurel Hill State Park to see firsthand some exciting elements of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI). Secretary Quigley said the CLI can become a national model for sustainable development by acting and investing around conservation, recreation, community revitalization and sustainability.
In Ohiopyle, Secretary Quigley met with local officials to talk about sewage issues and look at plans to improve safety on Route 381, manage stormwater and develop some housing and businesses. (See an article by the Tribune-Review on the stormwater project.)
In Connellsville, he toured construction work underway to improve Yough River Park, and Crawford Avenue Bridge,where PennDOT has agreed to add a bike lane when it repairs the bridge so bicyclists from the Great Allegheny Passage can get downtown safely. (See an article by the Uniontown Herald-Standard.)
Acting Secretary Quigley also reviewed recent improvements at Laurel Hill State Park. The beach and main day use area underwent an extensive rehabilitation project two years ago. New amenities include a boat rental, food concession, shower house, ADA-compliant trails and the new Lakeview Pavilion.
During demolition of the former food concession area, park staff discovered a beautiful, stone fireplace and chimney and decided to build the Lakeview Pavilion around this chimney. It is available for rental and is very popular for reunions, birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings.
The Laurel Hill Visitor Center has exhibits about the Civilian Conservation Corps, the lumbering heritage of Laurel Ridge and natural history. The Friends of Laurel Hill operate the Outpost Gift Shop, which supports projects and events such as the Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival. Across the road from the Visitor Center is the CCC Monument, which pays homage to the crews who built many State Park amenities still in use. Three original “CCC Boys” from Laurel Hill are still active volunteers.