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DCNR works to restore Cumberland County state forest

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is clearing out non-native plants growing around Camp Michaux to restore and preserve the Michaux State Forest.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry is putting their mantra “forestry like our lives depend on it” into action in Cumberland County. 

Originally utilized as farmland in the late 18th century, then a World War II Civilian Conservation Corps and interrogation camp in 1933, Camp Michaux in Michaux State Forest is full of history.

“The story that is told here is about how we come together on the land as communities, as people, and as a country. I think that story is just as important today, as it was back then," Roy Brubaker, the district forester for the Bureau of Forestry’s first district said. 

After World War II, a few organizations used the space, but with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources foresters now in full control, they want to restore and preserve the site.

Their goal is not only to bring in more visitors, but also to bring in more native species to the forest.

“Different partners came to us and asked what they could do to transform a heavily-invaded landscape into a more welcoming space for the community and all forms of wildlife,” Mike Wright, DCNR forest assistant manager at Michaux State Forest said. 

Several non-native species like tree-of-heaven, garlic mustard, Johnson grass, and English ivy will be replaced with local plants like milkweed, varieties of oak and maple trees, native warm-season grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs in preparation for warmer and wetter seasons.

Officials will also be clearing out and marking more trails for visitors to use.

Now that officials have worked from the outside into the core of the problem, they hope to set the forest up for future success.

“We have something blooming throughout the year for all the development stages and also have some types of trees and food production for wildlife 365 days a year,” Wright went on. 

Officials also believe the project will help level out the decline of local bird and insect populations in the forest while optimizing the recreational and cultural value of the site.

For more information and to get involved with The Friends of Michaux State Forest, click here

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