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Notes from the Field Station: North Country Trail Association Visits the Field Station

Posted on Monday, August 19, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -Trails are made for walking.  A dozen representatives of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) proved this on Wednesday, August 14.  Their trek at the Field Station was just one of the field excursions linked with the annual meetings held this year at Slippery Rock University.  Hikers hailed from Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.  They came, they saw, they hiked! 

The North Country Trail Association, headquartered in Lowell, Michigan, is a membership-driven, volunteer-based organization that unites the efforts of local chapters and partner organizations of seven states with the National Park Service.  Their goals are to build, maintain, protect and promote local and regional trails and further the cause of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600 mile footpath through the northern tier of the United States, a regional equivalent of the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails.

The Pennsylvania Chapters of the NCTA hosted the 2013 national conference at Slippery Rock University with events located at McConnells Mill State Park, Jennings Environmental Center, Old Stone House and Westminster's Field Station.

The day began here with a session in the Nature Center that sketched the history and role of the Field Station in our college and community.  Participants were intrigued with knowledge of how our area was surveyed by the Federal Government in the 1790s and early 1800s and how this information has been translated into the development of the Offutt Microforest with its native species.  Those species were selected by referencing "witness trees" marked in the early survey records to define plots of land that were given to Revolutionary War veterans.  Visitors from the NCTA also learned how two memorials, the Sandy Edmiston Labyrinth and the Meg Rankin Garden and Nursery, have shaped the inclusive mission of the Field Station from biology and science to all aspects of human experience. 

Our hiking leaders then led the group through the recently developed Wood Duck Loop to the Little Neshannock Creek, to other loops and then back to the Nature Center by way of the Lucile Frey Nature Trail.   The NCTA group hiked with fervor and interest; however time did not allow hiking all two miles of marked and maintained trails and loops that are part of the Field Station. 

The Lucile Frey Nature Trail was established in 1994 and dedicated in 1995 to honor Lucile B. Frey, Class of 1926, who became a clear voice for environmental concerns during her tenure as a Westminster faculty member, 1947 to 1970.  The Trail is a combination of boardwalk and grass from a footbridge over the Little Neshannock Creek to the Nature Center.  In 2011, the Frey Nature Trail became a registered trail with the Tri State Trail Initiative, a coalition of trail planners and managers in 18 counties of Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and the Panhandle of West Virginia.

The Trail with its loops and paths are open to the college and community with the intent of providing recreational and environmental quality to life.  Those who walk or run are invited to share concerns and experiences with the Field Station personnel and offer suggestions for future enhancement of the Trail.

Clarence Harms, Director
Field Station


Representatives from NCTA visit the Westminster College Field Station