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Johnstown area state parks: register for May 2014 programs now

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Summer is almost here and our local state parks are beginning to hop once more. Many of the park naturalist and environmental educators that have been off for the winter are now back on staff. And they are starting there weekend programming already. While many of the programs that they offer are free and require no pre-registration, some programs like kayaking are popular enough that you need to pre-register.

In this monthly feature, you will learn about some of the programs for the month ahead that require pre-registration. For more information on the programs, please check out the link provided in the article or go to www.visitPAparks.com.

The month of May seems to be dominated by paddling programs. However, there are hiking, orienteering fishing and biking programs also. Unless stated otherwise, registration for these events may be done online through the Pennsylvania State Park website.

Yellow Creek State Park (located in Penn Run about 35 minutes from Johnstown):

  • On May 17 Yellow Creek will be hosting a Boating and Water Safety Awareness Course from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The course will provide you with the training needed for a Boating Safety Education Certificate which are required for all operators of personal watercraft, regardless of age, and for boat operators born after January 1, 1982 who operate motorboats of more than 25 horsepower. Register by calling the park office at (724) 357-7913.

Keystone State Park (located about 50 minutes from Johnstown in Derry):

  • On May 31 Keystone will be sponsoring an Evening Paddle from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Explore Keystone Lake with a guided kayak tour.
  • On June 5 and 6 there are two children’s Discover E Programs. On June 5 is Feather Fun for 4 and 5 year olds and on June 6 the program will be Hunters of the Sky for 6 to 8 year olds. The program on June 5 is from 2:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. and the program on June 6 is from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.
  • On June 7 the park is sponsoring Explore the Loyalhanna, a kayak tour of the Loyalhanna River. The 9 mile paddle will begin in Latrobe and finish in New Alexandria. The trip is planned from 9:00 a.m. until about 2:00 p.m.
  • For all of the above Keystone programs, register by calling Pam McQuistian at 724-668-2566 or by e-mail at pmcquistia@pa.gov.
  • Also on June 7 they are also presenting Fishing Classes Made Simple. This is a four class series that starts on June 7 (classes also on June 14, 21, and 28). The classes will teach the students all about fishing. If the student attends all four classes, they will receive a rod, reel and tackle box. There is a cost of $10 for the classes. For registration please e-mail Mark/Marilyn Mansk at mmanski_225@comcast .net.

Prince Gallitzin State Park (located near Patton about 50 minutes from Johnstown):

  • On May 31, Prince Gallitzin is sponsoring a Beginning Orienteering program from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. The program presented by Jim Wolfe, President of the Western PA Orienteering Club, will help you learn orienteering map reading, basic compass use and how the sport of orienteering works. This will be followed by an exercise to test your new. The program is free. While pre-registration is not required, it is suggested. To register, contact Beth Garner at 814-674-1000, extension 105 or by e-mail at princeprogramssp@pa.gov.

Shawnee State Park (located about 50 minutes from Johnstown in Schellsburg):

  • On May 10 come out to Shawnee to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with a Migratory Bird Paddle from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. Enjoy a guided paddle on Shawnee Lake to see what migratory waterfowl is still hanging around. The program cost $5 for adults and $2 for youth from 8 – 12.
  • On May 12, Shawnee kicks off their 2014 moonlight paddling series with the Strawberry Moon Paddle from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Learn more about the moon and this year about the park’s namesake, the Shawnee that once inhabited the area that is the park. The program cost $5 for adults and $2 for youth from 8 – 12.
  • On May 26 the park is sponsoring a Family Fishing Program from 9:00 a.m. until noon for Fish for Free Day. Come learn about fishing and introduce your child to an activity for both of you. The program is free, but adults must bring a child and children must bring an adult.
  • On May 31 and June 1, the Introduction to Backpacking Series returns to the Alleghenies Region with a weekend Backpacking Workshop at Shawnee. The program begins at 8:00 a.m. on May 31 and ends at 4:00 p.m. on June 1 with an overnight adventure included. There is a program fee of $30 which includes dinner on Saturday evening and breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Participants in this event can earn alumni status which qualifies you for invitation only backpacking trips.
  • For more information on any of the programs listed above, contact the State Parks Regional Office at Shawnee at 814-733-2203.

Ohiopyle State Park (located about an hour and 20 minutes from Johnstown in Ohiopyle):

  • On May 31 join Ohiopyle staff for the Bike and Brunch program. Enjoy the 9 mile bike tour from Ramcat to the train station in Ohiopyle. Afterwards enjoy a brunch buffet in Ohiopyle. Register online or by calling 724-329-0986 or emailing bawallace@pa.gov.

Black Moshannon State Park (located an hour and 30 minutes from Johnstown east of Phillipsburg):

  • On May 14 Black Moshannon will be presenting the Flower Moon Paddle from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Enjoy paddling on Black Moshannon Lake by the light of the Flower Full Moon. Particpants will paddle to a campfire where drinks and snacks will be served. There is a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12.

Cowans Gap State Park (located about an hour and 40 minutes from Johnstown near Fort Loudon):

  • Cowans Gap will be presenting their Spring Kayak on May 9 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Join the park naturalist for the first paddle of the year at Cowans Gap as you look for signs that spring is here! Space is limited, so register online now.
  • On May 12, Cowans Gap will be hosting a Home School Day from 9:00 a.m. until noon. This month’s topic is Precious Plants. The program is free, but registration is required. Register online or by calling the park office at (717)485-3948.

Bald Eagle State Park (located 1 hour and 45 minutes from Johnstown in Centre County):

  • On May 11, Bald Eagle will be presenting their birding day. There are many activities for everyone to take part in. While most are free and do not require registration, a few of the events do require registration.
  • Birding by Boat takes place twice on May 11 at the park, in the morning from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and then again from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. These programs are being led by Tussey Mountain Outfitters and have a cost of $15.
  • The Family Bluebird House Construction program takes place from 2:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. Bring the family out to build a bluebird house. The program is free, but pre-registration is strongly suggested.
  • On May 25 the park will be presenting Kayak Fishing from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing equipment, but loaner equipment is available. Pre-registration by May 24 is required.
  • On May 26, the park will hold a Memorial Day Morning Paddle from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
  • To register for any of the programs listed above, contact the park Environmental Learning Center at 814-625-9369 at least one day prior to the event.
  • On June 7, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will be holding a Family Fishing Festival at Bald Eagle from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Learn the basics of fishing and then try it out. Equipment is provided. Preregistration is required by going to www.TakeMeFishingPa.com. For more information on the Family Fishing Festival contact Amidea Daniel at (814) 359-5127.

So reserve your spot for these programs now so that you won’t be left out. Remember to Get Outdoors Johnstown.

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