PA Wilds Center celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Allegheny National Forest

PA Wilds Center celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Allegheny National Forest

Celebration held September 24 at Twin Lakes Recreation Area


The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship was honored to be part of the Allegheny National Forest Centennial celebration at Twin Lakes Recreation Area on Sunday, September 24, 2023, exactly 100 years after President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation establishing the land as a national forest.

Despite the rain, hundreds of people showed up to celebrate the monumental occasion. The ceremony featured speeches from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service for the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) and elected officials, a historical presentation by Edgar Brannon (retired director of Grey Towers National Historic Site), a cake-cutting ceremony, and a centennial tree planting to signify another 100 years of growth. 

Participants were invited to place a small, flat item into a time capsule, which won’t be opened for another 50 years, in 2073. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship placed a postcard-size paper into the box, showing a map and information of the PA Wilds region, as well as the names of the current PA Wilds Center team.

The celebration also included food trucks, beverage vendors, history displays and kids’ activities. Headlining bands TakeSolo and One Last Breath provided live music for the event, along with acoustic musician Iris Heather. The free, family-friendly event included guided nature hikes and history walks, an expo of organizations, face painting, and appearances by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl. Booths from entrepreneurs and organizations, including the PA Wilds Center, offered visitors a chance to learn more about the region.

The PA Wilds Center was represented at the event by Value Chain Manager and Media Lab Keyholder Ashley Fosbrink-Horrell and Communications Manager Britt Madera. They talked with visitors about the PA Wilds Center’s mission and its role in integrating stewardship and economic development within the rural region, as well as providing information about other places that visitors might enjoy exploring while they are in the area. The PA Wilds Center booth was stocked with free pins, stickers, brochures and rack cards about the region, as well as specific stewardship programs such as the PA Wilds Leave No Trace initiative.

“To be able to be part of the ongoing story of the Allegheny National Forest is such an honor,” said Madera. “Historically, people have not always been thoughtful about how we steward these lands, and the ANF is an excellent example of being able to rebuild something that may have otherwise been lost. It’s incredible to think about how the efforts by so many organizations and individuals will help continue the legacy of the ANF for centuries to come.”

The ANF spans four counties in the PA Wilds’ Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds landscape, including Elk, Forest, McKean and Elk. It was once known as “the Allegheny brush heap,” as the land was stripped of its trees and nearly totally deforested after the lumber boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Now, 100 years later, the ANF looks quite different. Thanks to stewardship efforts and replanting, this truly is Penns Woods. Along with many other types of trees, Black Cherry populates the forest, with Kane becoming “The Black Cherry Capital of the World.” Wildlife make their homes in the ANF, and travelers come to admire and hunt the wild game. The work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) created necessary infrastructure and recreational facilities throughout the forest, with many of the trails and pavilions still being used today.

The ANF Centennial event was coordinated by the USDA Forest Service for the ANF, along with help from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) and Friends of Twin Lakes. Other organizations at the Centennial included Allegheny Forest Alliance, Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group, Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, Allegheny Outfitters, Allegheny Site Management, PA Game Commission, PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, PA Lumber Museum, Pennsylvania Grade Crude Coalition, Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council, Trout Unlimited, US Army Corps of Engineers, Warren County Visitors Bureau, and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Laura Funaki, president of Friends of Twin Lakes, spoke about how meaningful it was for the event to be held at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. The campground at Twin Lakes was going to be decommissioned in 2018, but a group of dedicated volunteers stepped up and continued to care for the land.

Funaki explained how volunteers do things like mow the grass and make improvements to the recreation area, which provides a “true sense of ownership of the land for the public.” Volunteers sometimes camp overnight, with the ability to stay for free during certain days of the year as long as they agree to help maintain or improve the recreation area. The Friends of Twin Lakes coordinate live music events about once a month, with performers choosing to play for free.

Twin Lakes Recreation Area was also the 2022 recipient of the PA Wilds Champion Award for Great Places. Funaki said that being highlighted as the winner of the PA Wilds Champion Award brought their cause to the attention of many more people.

The celebration at Twin Lakes Recreation Area was the signature event for the ANF’s Centennial, but the weekend included other exciting opportunities such as the ANF100 Juried Art Exhibition at the Crary Art Gallery, ANF on Film: A Hunter’s/Angler’s Guide to ANF at the Struthers Library Theatre, and the Jakes Rocks Trail Fest at Kinzua Beach. ANF partners and local businesses have sponsored additional activities to encourage enjoyment of the forest, including a 100-mile Hiking Challenge, a 100-mile Paddle Challenge, a Centennial Geocache Trail, and more.

The ANF draws in travelers from near and far. This national forest is within driving distance of one-third of the nation’s population, and Forest County ranks number three in the United States for percentage of vacation homes. An estimated 75 percent of all habitable structures in Forest County are seasonal residences, and it’s not uncommon to hear travelers say, “Oh, I have a camp near there!”

“The role of the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania is to actively collaborate with others in cross‐boundary landscape scale conservation to deliver a balance of sustainable ecological, social, and economic benefits, while enhancing the public’s ability to enjoy the outdoor experiences provided within and around the national forest, and ensuring that our operations and infrastructure enhance those sustainable benefits by safely, efficiently and consistently providing a flow of goods and services to the public today and in the future,” said Rob Fallon, Allegheny National Forest, Marienville District Ranger. “The objective of the USDA-Forest Service in managing the federal lands encompassing the Allegheny National Forest is to assure the many uses and sustainable yield of these lands for – in the words of the first chief of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot – the ‘greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.’”

For more information about visiting the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds landscape of the PA Wilds, visit the landscape page and start planning your next adventure.



The Pennsylvania Wilds is a 13-county region that includes the counties of Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Warren, and northern Centre. The PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development in a way that inspires the communities of the Pennsylvania Wilds. The PA Wilds Center promotes the region and its 2+ million acres of public lands as a premier outdoor recreation destination as a way to diversify local economies, inspire stewardship, attract investment, retain population and improve quality of life. The PA Wilds Center’s core programs seek to help businesses leverage the PA Wilds brand and connect with new market opportunities, including: the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a network of more than 575 place-based businesses and organizations, and the PA Wilds Conservation Shop, a retail outlet primarily featuring products sourced from the WCO. For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit To learn more about the WCO, visit Explore the PA Wilds at Find regionally made products at


Media Contact

Britt Madera | Communications Manager

PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.

[email protected] | 570-948-1051

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