COAL TOWNSHIP -- When people think of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area near Shamokin, off-roading typically comes to mind. But now there is more to do than ride ATVs.
"It's become a place for people to see. You just can't imagine all the thousands of people who drive around," Dr. Blair Carbaugh said.
This 100-acre section of the park is now a conservation area, featuring 500 chestnut trees. The trees were all planted within a year. They finished planting them in 2014. The trees have been growing ever since. People can't ride ATVs through the trees, but there is plenty of space to admire them. The spot is named after Dr. Blair Carbaugh, who is behind the tree-planting project.
"I wanted to plant some up here after I saw this mess," Dr. Carbaugh said.
The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area is built on abandoned coal mining land.
"It really was just like boulders, rocks everywhere. Navigating the terrain, getting the material in and out, that really elevated the difficulty of doing the planting," Sara Fitzsimmons said.
"Cleaning up the illegal dumps, the water and just turn the area back to the way it was before the mining ravaged the area," David Crowl said.
Since the trees were planted in what officials call a highly degraded area, the goal is to make blighted land beautiful. Chestnut trees used to be abundant in Pennsylvania, but were decimated by disease.
"The trees that we're planting here are genetically altered so they are resistant to the blight," Crowl said.
The Dr. Blair Carbaugh Conservation Area already has plans to expand. Carbaugh says they plan to plant even more chestnut trees on the property sometime next year.