On Wednesday, October 12 Leadership Elk and Cameron members set out on a school bus to tour various businesses in the two counties for “Tourism and Environment Day”. We got a behind the scenes perspective on how these businesses support the community and drive the local economy.
We started off plugging our noses are we traversed the windy path to the top of Advanced Disposal Green Tree Landfill. As we gazed upon the 160 foot mountain of waste we all helped to produce, Andrew Thomas taught us about the strict regulations that help to ensure disposal practices are as safe as possible. State cops, DEP, and EPA all help guide proper technique.
Next, we did a 180 as we rode to Elk County Community Recycling Center. Bekki Titchner gave us a grand tour and shared her passion for recycling along the way. I learned that if everyone were to live exactly like me, it would take 4.7 earths to support the population. Now that I know the vast amount of products our local recycling center handles (seriously – they take it all!), maybe I can shrink that number.
The Cameron County Chamber of Commerce and Artisan Center was our next stop. Abbi Peters presented on the PA Wilds, which she made sure to articulate is both a region and a movement. Region wise, the PA Wilds is a 12 ½ county area that includes both Elk and Cameron counties. According the PA Wilds Center website, the movement is to “advance region planning, regional marketing and region entrepreneurship efforts to make the PA wilds a premier outdoor recreation and heritage destination that fuels local economies.”
Dave Gelnett then gave us the rundown on Sizerville State Park. We toured the facilities and learned about the park’s rich history with the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was refreshing to see how clear the stream was and the types of wildlife it supported, even in October.
After an hour long drive from Emporium to Benezette, we visited the Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area. No elk were seen this time, but we were told to visit again in the morning or evening for prime viewing opportunities. We witnessed first-hand how much of a crowd the elk can draw as eager tourists from all over the country littered the area.
Our final stop was Elk Mountain Winery. We sipped on a glass of Mountain Mist as owner Kevin Wolfel explained the economic impacts of the Elk Viewing Center in Benezette. He’s eager for more businesses to capitalize on the increasing tourism of the area and provide more tourist attractions.
I’m thankful Headwaters Charitable Trust has given me the opportunity to explore the area and gain new skills! Looking forward to next month’s LEC class on communication.