Laurel Hill State Park is adding 184 acres to is scenic property.
An ariel view of Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset County.
By Anya Sostek / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A Somerset County state park is getting a major addition.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced this week that Laurel Hill State Park will add 184 acres, and it will be called Scenic View at Laurel Hill.
The $1.024 million property has a scenic outlook tower, gazebo, lodge and other buildings.
“Major acquisitions and additions like this to our state park system are not commonplace,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn in a statement. “With its acreage, pond and combination of buildings, Scenic View will make Laurel Hill State Park shine even brighter as one of the natural gems of the Laurel Highlands.”
PG graphic: Laurel Hill State Park expansion (Click image for larger version)
It was owned by Penn Scenic View Inc. and had previously been owned by the William Penn Association, a North Side life insurance agency and Hungarian-American fraternal society.
The cost of the property was subsidized by grants from the state DCNR, the Colcom Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
“This new property adds a scenic overlook, sweeping views and over 180 acres of protected land to the park,” Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said in a statement.
The outlook tower and a gazebo are already open to the public. Other parts of the park and its buildings are being assessed as the Bureau of State Parks develops an operational plan. Sections of the park will be opened to the public in phases.
Laurel Hill State Park contains more than 4,200 mountainous acres, including 15 miles of hiking trails, a 63-acre lake, a five-bedroom lodge and the Laurel Hill Creek. The new land buffers one of the tributaries to the creek, which state officials are hoping can help with its water quality. In 2009, the nonprofit group American Rivers listed Laurel Hill Creek as one of the 10 most endangered waterways in the country.
The partially forested Scenic View at Laurel Hill is also home to the Appalachian blue violet, a Pennsylvania threatened plant species, as well as breeding grounds for a variety of migrating birds.
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