By KIMBERLY WEINBERG
dreams can take big money.
Colosimo ’94 and his fellow community leaders in Warren (Pa.) County didn’t let
that stop them from dreaming big while coming up with a project to improve the
economy of the
background is economics and finance,” said Colosimo, who is an executive with
Northwest Savings Bank’s Trust Division. “This region is typically the first
into and the last out of a recession.”
is a founding member of Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways, a Warren-based
organization with the goal of attracting more visitors to the area around the
Allegheny Reservoir in the Allegheny National Forest. But instead of simply throwing
marketing dollars at the problem, PKP seeks to build new attractions and educate
people about the logging, oil, Native American and engineering history of the
the projects envisioned was 46 miles of mountain-biking trails in the area of
Jakes Rocks in the Allegheny National Forest, where Kinzua Point juts out between
Kinzua Bay and the main reservoir. Colosimo and friends thought the 3,000-acre
rocky outcropping close to Route 59 Longhouse National Scenic Byway and campgrounds
would make a great place for epic mountain biking trails.
worked with the International Mountain Bicycling Association for a professional
design that would rival the best mountain biking trails in America. “When these
trail systems are done, there won’t be any like it,” Colosimo said. “The IMBA
said this is the most beautiful trail system they’ve had an opportunity to
build. It’s got huge opportunity to draw people.”
Before the PKP
could go any farther than the initial trail design, however, any kind of
project of this nature on federal land would require an environmental
“We were looking
at a price tag of $300,000 to $350,000 for an assessment,” Colosimo said. “Nobody’s
going to give us donations to do a study.”
Dowlan, a project manager with the U.S. Forest Service, had told Colosimo that while
working in a national forest in Oregon, he had successfully used students from
Oregon State University to do similar work.
contacted his alma mater and got hooked up with Dr. Stephen Robar, who, among
other positions, is the director of the environmental studies program, a hybrid
major combining life sciences, geology, economics, ethics, politics and
statistics. Little did Robar know
how involved the university would become in various aspects of the Jakes Rocks project.
Robar and a representative of the U.S. Forest Service came up with a way to
do the required assessment for $56,000 while providing 17 Pitt-Bradford
students with valuable
field experience. After training in the spring of 2013 with Forest Service personnel,
students spent the entire summer walking the 46 miles of trails three times
inventorying flowers, fauna, stream crossings, ground conditions and endangered
species within 50 feet of the roposed trail.
insisted that students be paid for 8 to 10 hours a day mid-May through August
so that they would be able to stay and work the whole summer and not have to go
home to make money for the coming academic year.
received mileage, too, making it a sustainable summer job. Money for the
from the businesses of the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry. Their
housing was covered by the university’s policy that provides free summer
housing to students taking classes.
I first found out about it, I remember running home and calling my mom,” said Nicolette
Fruehan of Brackney, Pa., who graduated with a biology degree in April and worked
on the assessment last summer.
Krepps, an environmental studies major from Titusville, Pa., was also excited about
was a really fun summer, and it was great to see the forest change,” she said.
Fun, but tough. “There’s no trail there yet,” she noted, describing the
struggle to get through hundreds of yards of mountain laurel.
working, students were also required to take a field biology course on campus.
Instantly using the information in the field while they were learning it in
class made remembering it a breeze,
in the field, they gathered plant samples and pressed them for the university’s herbarium,
noted each stream crossing or any place they found water and measured the width
and depth of it to classify the type of stream it was. They also measured how
far an invasive
species was from the water. At each significant site, a GPS marking was taken
into a database. Most of this graphic information systems work was done by one student,
Greggory Mirth, who graduated with a degree in environmental sciences in 2013
and is now doing graduate work in environmental planning at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania. Mirth will return to the ANF this year as a full-time summer
Nick Gier, who graduated this spring
with a degree in environmental studies, appreciated not
only the academic knowledge, but also the career guidance Dowlan and others
really didn’t know what I was going to do after graduation,” he said. Dowlan
the kinds of jobs that they would be eligible for with their current level of
experience. Gier was able to parlay his internship in the forest into a
full-time post-graduation job working in regulatory affairs for a sand and
gravel company, Gernatt Asphalt Products Inc. in Collins, N.Y., near his hometown
of North Collins, N.Y.
second group of seven students took on the less glamorous work during the fall semester
of turning the fieldwork into a written report to be submitted to the U.S. Forest
Service. One of the real-life aspects for students working at every stage has been
presenting their findings to officials from the Forest Service, Pitt- Bradford
and nearby communities.
the assessment taken care of (students did not find anything to prohibit the
narrow, low-impact trails from being built), Colosimo turned his attention to a
website, and again approached Robar, who is also the associate dean of academics
affairs on campus.
connected Colosimo with Dr. Ken Wang, assistant professor of computer information
systems and technology, who took on the project with his advanced web design students
this spring. While most websites are created on an existing content management system,
Wang required students to create their own, then create templates and a
website. That’s a whole lotta work for one semester.
a real-world project for our students. There’s no example for them to follow.
No pictures or text yet. It’s a challenge for them to develop things from
scratch,” he said. Students had to decide on important usability functions such
as what items to place on menus and where to put them, what “buttons” to place
on the home page and where they would go. Good decision-making in this area is
what makes a site user-friendly.
upped the ante by not having the students work on the project together as an entire
class, instead breaking them into four teams, each with the task of designing a
website for the trails project.
challenge is for them to work in a team. I like them to compete, and they can learn
from each other,” Wang said, explaining that if one team finds out another team
is incorporating an element, it often decides to incorporate that element,
also, and will learn from the other group.
chose the “winning” site, but will also incorporate elements of the other sites
students present the results to the PKP.
students from different disciplines will be getting into the mix this coming
fall by conducting oral histories of families that lived in the towns of Kinzua
and Corydon that were flooded by the Kinzua Dam project in the 1960s.
forest has also yielded other opportunities not related to the Jakes Rocks trails.
Education and hospitality management students created teacher resource guides
this spring for the Longhouse National Scenic Byway that amount to one-stop
field-trip planning. Energy science and technology students will begin working
on a project with graduate students from Princeton University this summer to
measure methane escaping from plugged oil wells in the forest.
a whole gamut of education here,” Colosimo said. “Students get to learn about a
real job and real-life work and what a great resource the university is for the