Lackawanna, Promised Land and Nescopeck are among the 18 Pennsylvania State Parks sponsoring free, guided hikes on New Year's Day to help visitors ring in 2013 with healthy exercise and a glimpse of nature's winter beauty.
First Day Hikes have been taking place for 20 years as part of a national effort organized by the National Association of State Park Directors and launched in Newton, Mass. State involvement has grown to the point where, for the first time in 2012, all 50 state park systems are participating.
"We are excited to join in hosting these hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks," Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretary Richard Allan said. "For the second consecutive year, First Day Hikes offer a great cure for cabin fever and a chance to burn off those extra holiday calories."
In addition to the local State Parks, others participating in the program are Bald Eagle, Black Moshannon, Leonard Harrison, Kinzua Bridge, Ohiopyle, Moraine, Raccoon Creek, Pymatuning, Keystone, Kings Gap Environmental Education Center, Canoe Creek, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Marsh Creek, French Creek and Delaware Canal. Hikes were selected to draw both novices and veterans, and different hikes will match different abilities.
Pennsylvania State Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which are usually less than two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain.
Details about hike locations, difficulty, length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America's State Parks website at http://www . americasstateparks.org/.
Additional details can be found at http://www . dcnr.state.pa.us/; click on State Parks under "Quick Links," then select "Featured Events." For information on Pennsylvania's 120 state parks, click on "Find a Park."
Visitors to four Pennsylvania water trails during the summer of 2012 generated almost three-quarters of a million dollars in economic activity and supported 11 full-time jobs, according to a survey conducted by ICF International on behalf of the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. Data was compiled from 352 interviews of water trail visitors from July to September on four of the state's 21 water trails: the Schuylkill, Susquehanna North Branch, Juniata and Three Rivers.
"While this study only covered a short period of time and a small number of trails, it's a good indication that water trails do have an important economic impact in nearby communities, and are a great source of recreation that is close to home for many visitors," Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.
"Water trails include access points, boat launches, day use sites and some overnight camping sites on or along waterways."
Pennsylvania Water Trails Program is a partnership of DCNR, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the National Park Service to expand and connect the system of water trails and better market and promote them.
"Water trails make it easier for both powered and non-powered boaters to participate in the sport," PFBC executive director John Arway said.
"They provide safe access to, and information about, waterways while also providing connections to the diverse history, ecology, geology, heritage and wildlife of Pennsylvania."
Sunday's edition of "Experience The Outdoors," hosted by award-winning Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz, at 7 a.m. on 1410-AM WLSH, at 9:30 a.m. on Magic 105.5-FM and on the Web at http://www.wmgh.com/  by clicking the link to the program, will feature Schuylkill County Sportsmen's Association youth education director Dennis Scharadin.
Promoters of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, which will be held Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 2-10, 2013, at the State Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, are selling advance, discounted tickets online at http://www.easternsportshow.com/ .
In addition to annual and senior lifetime fishing licenses, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for the first time is offering anglers the choice of purchasing multi-year license and trout stamps or Lake Erie combination stamps that are valid for three or five years. Senior licenses may be purchased, or given as a gift, to anyone who will celebrate their 65th birthday during the January 1-December 31 license year.
If one of the new multi-year licenses is purchased without a trout stamp or Lake Erie permit, they can buy either in the future. When they buy the stamp or permit, however, it is not for one year, but prorated for the remaining years of the license.
In addition, the PFBC has also announced a fishing sweepstakes to coincide with the sale of fishing licenses.
This contest will award a series of fishing trips across the state for many of Pennsylvania's popular game fish, and to participate register online at http://m1e.net/  c?49541033-35HBGtJg4tHWY%408095608-cxNQ2rvfsdxOs.