PA Wilds Conservation Shop at Leonard Harrison State Park set to reopen April 10
NOTE: Temporarily relocated to Hills Creek State Park for 2023 season
Due to construction that is scheduled this summer and fall at Leonard Harrison State Park, the PA Wilds Conservation Shop Mobile Unit has temporarily moved to Hills Creek State Park.
New temporary location: 111 Spillway Road, Wellsboro, PA 16901
Shop hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday
The shop can easily be reached within Hills Creek State Park, next to the concession stand, restrooms and changing area.
Leonard Harrison State Park will experience construction and renovations, expected to last from mid-May 2023 until the beginning of September 2023. During this time, the PA Wilds Conservation Shop mobile unit will remain at Hills Creek State Park.
The nonprofit PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship (PA Wilds Center) will reopen its PA Wilds Conservation Shop mobile unit at Leonard Harrison State Park in mid-April, but does not have any current plans to open a second store in Tioga County.
The PA Wilds Conservation Shop at Leonard Harrison State Park focuses on selling regionally-made and value-added products, including those made in Tioga County, and it will reopen for the season on Monday, April 10. Shop hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. The Leonard Harrison Conservation Shop is the Center’s second in the PA Wilds region, with the flagship store opening at Kinzua Bridge State Park in 2016. DCNR’s current project to renovate and upgrade the park’s visitor center and parking areas will also include relocation of the Conservation Shop inside the center. This $3.4M project is slated to start this summer. If construction alters shop hours or location this season, public announcements will be made.
“These park improvements have been in the works for many years, and we are thrilled to finally have contracts in place to move on them,” said Cindy Dunn, DCNR Secretary. “We are also excited to have a PA Wilds Conservation Shop at the location, a strategic component of DCNR’s long standing region-wide partnership with the PA Wilds Center. They are doing tremendous work to help us grow the outdoor sector across the region, and their Conservation Shops add huge value at busy state parks, assisting with visitor capacity and stewardship messaging while helping rural makers, artisans and others get their products to market. We had hoped to be able to get them into a permanent space at the park a few years ago, but construction got hung up during the pandemic.”
The Center’s PA Wilds Conservation Shops are mission-driven gift shops that improve market access for rural entrepreneurs by sourcing 90 percent of their inventory from rural makers and businesses in the PA Wilds and intentionally passing foot traffic to area businesses and attractions, raise funds for conservation, and accomplish other mission points. The shops also help the Center build a sustainable staff presence in the more rural counties it serves to help connect them to the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” they have created to support the region’s outdoor recreation sector.
A 13-county region, the PA Wilds is a state-designated tourism region and Conservation Landscape known for being home to more than 2 million acres of public lands and some of the most unique outdoor recreation experiences in the Commonwealth. Twenty years ago, the state launched an initiative to establish the region as a premier outdoor recreation destination under the PA Wilds brand to help diversify the region’s economically-distressed economy, inspire stewardship, improve quality of life, attract investment and retain population. The regional strategy has many components, including recreation infrastructure development, small business development, branding and marketing, regional planning, and community character and natural resource stewardship. Dozens of local organizations and hundreds of businesses across the region participate, including Tioga County government and Visit Potter Tioga. Located in the region, the PA Wilds Center is the coordinating nonprofit for the state-sponsored regional strategy.
Tioga County is a founding member of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement that brings the region’s counties together around the PA Wilds effort. Tioga County government got even more involved in the regional work during the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) grant process in 2021. PA Wilds Center was the lead applicant on that grant, which sought to bring a transformative $50M to the region to grow its outdoor recreation sector and help businesses tap into related market opportunities. The PA Wilds application was one of only 60 finalists from 529 applications nationwide to make it to Phase II. As part of that process, shovel-ready recreation infrastructure projects were identified, and the Marsh Creek Greenway / Pine Creek Rail Trail extension project was one of the projects included.
Through the BBBRC application process, Tioga County government asked the PA Wilds Center to look at the possibility of placing a PA Wilds Conservation Shop at the Marsh Creek Greenway trailhead. “Over the last few months the county heard feedback from the community that it did not want retail space at the Marsh Creek location,” said PA Wilds Center COO Abbi Peters. “Based on this feedback, a Conservation Shop is not currently being included in trailhead development plans but the Center will continue to advocate for and support the county in completion of this impactful trail project. Outdoor recreation is a powerful and growing sector in the PA Wilds, and we appreciate the county’s leadership to highlight and invest in this industry in their county in order to achieve their sustainable community and economic development goals.”
PA Wilds Center invites local businesses, communities and organizations to join the Wilds Cooperative of PA, a free program that is the backbone of its entrepreneurial ecosystem and the onramp for small businesses and organizations to access its tools, technologies, networks, business-to-business opportunities, marketing, branding and commerce platforms. Currently, close to 500 businesses and organizations participate in the network.
“In its work, PA Wilds Center prioritizes in-region sourcing, not just for our shop inventory, but for everything – design firms and photographers to help us with our marketing, nonprofits to help us do education and outreach, sourcing local for our travel,” Peters said. “Studies show dollars spent locally stay in the economy longer, having a multiplier effect. We’ve done more than $1.5M in local contracting since opening our doors in 2014. It’s very intentional. As the Center ramps up its efforts at Leonard Harrison, it is likely to issue proposals for different opportunities around that project, and there are also other contracting opportunities local businesses might be interested in. We’d welcome more Tioga County businesses and organizations competing for those contracts, and joining our rural supply chain. There is a lot of talent in the county. Joining the Wilds Cooperative is the first step.”
Tioga County government has joined the network as a “community partner.” As a member, Tioga County will receive special promotional opportunities and will work with PA Wilds Center to help local businesses leverage PA Wilds opportunities.
The Tioga County Board of Commissioners said they are proud to be a founding county in the PA Wilds and that they value the county’s past, present, and future relationship with the Wilds Cooperative. Tioga County is a gateway to the PA Wilds and encourages the opportunities that the regional organization offers its communities.
For more information on the PA Wilds Center, visit www.PAWildsCenter.org. To learn more about the WCO, visit www.WildsCoPA.org. Explore the PA Wilds at www.PAWilds.com. Find regionally made products at www.ShopThePAWilds.com.
Britt Madera | Communications Manager
PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc.
[email protected] | 570-948-1051