Know Your Rights

Constitution of Pennsylvania

Article 1

Natural Resources and the Public Estate

Section 27.
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

As our world-class state forests, and now state parks, face large-scale, industrial, natural gas drilling, know that you “have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”

How much of our state forests have been leased without a single public hearing, comment, or input?  We’re not talking about a few wells.  We’re talking thousands of wells over 700,000 acres of the public’s land.  Click here for a map.

SGL 57 Rock Shelter

At the rock shelter

At the rock shelter

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about a rock shelter in SGL 57 that he had read about on a geocaching website.  Naturally, I had to check it out.  Ironically, I walked by this shelter when I did a winter hike to Coalbed Swamp just a few months previous.  At the time, I didn’t know it existed, and the deep snow sure didn’t help.

So I met up with Ed and we walked the rough dirt road back to the Dutch Mountain coal mine.  From there we continued on an old woods road that took us to Red Brook, so named because the natural tannin gives the water a reddish or amber hue.  We hiked up along Red Brook, passing cascades in a forest of spruce and hemlock.  The creek revealed some larger cascades as it tumbled over some conglomerate ledges.  Below, in the creek, a pile of natural foam had formed in pool.

I knew we were close to the shelter.  We followed the cliffs to the right, in a northerly direction and soon we came upon the shelter, which is only a hundred feet or so from the creek.  Large boulders, covered in moss, created a maze-like setting.  Overhangs and small caves were in the cliffs.  The shelter is unique in that it has a very thin layer of rock that extends out 15 or so feet, creating the roof.  The roof has a thick carpet of moss.  Spruce and hemlock grew all around.  In the shelter were some old, rusted pans and a place for a fire.  We could hear the creek tumbling a short distance away.  Behind the shelter was a deep crevice that still had some ice.  Although unique on its own, the shelter is made even more special by its beautiful surroundings.

We hiked up along the creek to an old forest road, which we took to the left, crossing Red Brook.  The old road was wet in spots but passed through scenic forests of yellow birch, hemlock, and spruce.  There were small meadows of last year’s ferns.  The old forest road brought us to the top of the coal mine and we retraced our steps back to the car.  Along the way, we began to notice countless yellow trout lilies in bloom; they had not been there previously on our hike in to see the shelter.  Hundreds of yellow flowers covered the forest floor, and not all of them were in bloom.  Some other white flowers also made an appearance.  This was a fine ending to an easy and scenic hike to another of SGL 57’s secret spots.

More pictures.