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Economic Impact Spotlight: Forestry Headquarters Brings Surrounding Woodlands to Life

February 17, 2021 12:00 AM

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It is named the Buchanan Forest District Resource Management Center. Here, visitors are invited to step inside to learn more about the outside world around them. To see, hear, and smell the countless species that live in the surrounding 71,000-acre Buchanan State Forest.

And, many businesses contributed to that learning experience before the new $4.5 million management center opened its doors.

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Buchanan Forest District Resource Management Center

A long line of contractors formed to help DCNR meet its pledge to use green and sustainable design techniques for all new and renovated building, infrastructure, and site projects.

Contracts and resultant jobs were awarded to the specialized companies supplying sustainable features of a new building that would include enhanced daylighting and views; automatic energy control systems for efficiency; landscaping with native plants; and sustainable stormwater management features.

At the building’s October 2017 dedication, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn noted Pennsylvania manages state forests using sustainable practices to conserve them for the future, and the new exhibits at the Buchanan center would help tell that story.

Many Hands Went into Center’s Role as a Learning Center

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Ed Carbaugh stands next to his groundhog mount in the Buchanan State Forest Resource Center

Upon entering the energy-efficient building, visitors find exhibits that transform the lobby space into an interactive experience.

And that is where smaller businesses picked up the teaching banner -- the decorators, display specialists, and taxidermists who brought those exhibits to life.

Coyotes and great-horned owls alert for prey. A meandering black bear cub. A forest snag harboring a field mouse. All brought indoors.

For many, it’s what they can’t see outdoors. All the work of taxidermists like Ed Carbaugh, a McConnellsburg resident who’s been pursuing a labor of love for more than 25 years.

Wander the center exbibits and you’ll also see fisher, catfish, and white-tailed deer mounts, some sold -- many donated -- by Carbaugh to DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry.

Steered by bureau employee friends to the center then taking shape, the 57-year-old sensed the need for a natural touch.

“I had all these mounts in my shop not doing any good,” the taxidermist recalled. “I said, ‘Man, it’s bare out here. They could really use stuff like that.’”

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Ed Carbaugh stands next to interpretive panel at the Buchanan Resource Center

And, Carbaugh could use the advertising his displayed mounts would bring. Right?

“No way,” he said. “That’s not why I did it. Not trying to get any business out of it. Through word of mouth I have more business than I need.”

Rewards, he said, come with seeing center visitors often glimpsing wild things for the first time.

“Especially the kids. It’s the looks on the faces of some who don’t know what they’re looking at. It makes them curious and, hopefully, they’ll read about and get interested in the animals they just saw.”

Forestry Theme Brings Center Exhibits Alive

DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry shares the taxidermist’s hope.

“The Buchanan Forest District Office developed exhibits with the theme of Pennsylvania mammals and fish that need our forests for their survival, and, in turn, create a food web of life that only a healthy forest can support,” said Jean Devlin, a bureau Natural Resource Program Specialist. “Both illustrations and taxidermy were used to portray this concept to visitors that interact with the exhibits.”

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Bear cub being added to exhibit in lobby of Buchanan State Forest Resource Center

Devlin noted some taxidermy mounts already existed at the forest district and were being used in educational programs.

Some were donated by taxidermists whose customers never picked them up; others were deceased animals donated by the Pa. Game Commission and prepared as taxidermy mounts locally.

“These mounts enhance the exhibits by allowing visitors to closely view animals that are integrally connected to our Pennsylvania forests and need them for their survival,” Devlin said. “They provide a connection between visitors and wildlife that may otherwise not be able to be made.”

Bringing Business to Local Economies

They also provide something else -- a solid example of how our state forests and state parks supply jobs in areas where they are needed to businesses -- both large and small.

Travel our public lands and you’ll find praise abounds for private contractors -- the men and women who erect the new buildings, pave the roads, repair the dams, and tackle a myriad of other projects.

And, there are many.

Value of DCNR infrastructure is more than $4 billion. It includes 131dams, 820 bridges, more than 4,800 buildings, 68 wastewater treatment plants, 172 public water systems, and 3,411 miles of roads.

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Bridge in Tuscarora State Forest

From all these holdings come one heck of a lot of jobs -- in repairs and construction, paving, roofing, culvert work, and so on.

Since December 1, 2019, DCNR has awarded about $37 million in construction contracts. It would be accurate to say DCNR typically executes $35 to $40 million in construction contracts each year.

Generally, the department spends $15-16 million in Environmental Stewardship Funds; $24-25 million in Keystone funds; and $20-25 million in capital bond projects.

Buchanan State Forest occupies slopes in the southern portion of the Ridge and Valley Region of Pennsylvania. The district is named in honor of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States.

Find more information on Buchanan State Forest and sustainable practices on DCNR lands on the DCNR website.

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