Abington Journal: “A passport to recreation”
Starting Saturday, April 26, people of all ages and abilities will have a fun, easy way to get outside and active all over Luzerne County with the Keystone Active Zone Passport, a free program that anyone can use to explore the county’s close-to-home parks, trails and outdoor events.
The passport lists 30 “stops” that offer more than 50 opportunities to enjoy outdoor recreation within a 10 to 60 minute drive of almost anywhere in Luzerne County. Passport participants can earn awards and chances to win prizes as they visit stops and find the answers to the stop’s unique scavenger hunt question. This year the passport celebrates the 25th anniversary of the D & L Trail — the 165-mile long trail that starts in Wilkes-Barre and follows the journey anthracite coal traveled from mine to market in Philadelphia, with many stops telling a piece of this historic story. From family friendly bike rides to rugged trail hikes, river festivals to quiet nature preserves, downtown walking tours to spectacular state parks, there is something for everyone to enjoy and discover with the Keystone Active Zone Passport.
To participate, visit the website www.KAZpassport.org, register and download a passport. Visit as many stops as you choose, find the answers to the stops’ questions, then log your answers on the website to earn awards and chances to win great prizes.
For every five stops visited and successfully logged, participants earn awards that support active living such as free skating passes to the ice rink at the Toyota Sportsplex at Coal Street Park. The more stops visited, the greater the chances of winning prizes such as: family days at Montage Mountain; whitewater, kayak and fishing excursions; bicycle gift certificates, camping weekends and more. The program runs from Saturday, April 26, to the end of September and you can start anytime.
New on this year’s passport is Stop # 21; Discover the D & L Trail and Anthracite Heritage, a schedule of three family friendly bike rides and five walks on different sections of the trail or related sites in White Haven, Mountain Top, Eckley Miners Village, the River Common, the Seven Tubs and the Susquehanna Warrior Trail. For people who do not have bicycles for these three rides, a limited number of complimentary bike rentals will be available to reserve.
Other new stops this year include: the Bear Creek Preserve, a Natural Lands Trust conservation property in Buck Township; the Health and Wellness Center at Hazleton’s new Wellness Trail; the Jean and Hal Flack Family Sports and Recreation Park in Lehman; National Get Outdoors Day PA events at local state parks; and White Haven Walks, a series of walks hosted by the White Haven Area Community Library.
Y Walk Wednesdays — a series of free guided early evening walks featuring downtown neighborhoods, history, architecture, wildlife, nature and new development in Wilkes-Barre — return on June 11 with the addition of several new walks. Y Cycle Saturdays and Sundays include new and returning rides. Bike helmets are required for all rides as are sturdy shoes for walks, and always bring water and snacks.
The KAZ Passport program was awarded the 2010 Environmental Partnership Award, presented annually by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to individuals or organizations for achieving excellence in environmental protection or conservation by working successfully in partnership with others.
“The KAZ Passport is helping to grow the next generation of environmentalists and conservationists by giving kids opportunities to discover and connect with their natural world; an activity that will help them learn to value, preserve and protect the environment now and in the future,” according to Michele Schasberger, member of Live Well Luzerne, a county wide healthy communities coalition that helps to promote and coordinate the program.
“The KAZ Passport is introducing, and reintroducing, people of all ages to the wonders of our beautiful, local outdoor resources,” said Carol Hussa, Healthy Community coordinator at the Y.
The program’s website, www.KAZpassport.org, provides information about the use of public lands and the benefits of outdoor physical activity and lists all the participating parks, trails, guided walks and events along with their contact information. Participants are encouraged to visit these websites to better prepare for their visits and to learn more about each stop and what else is offered at the different locations.
This program is made possible through grants from the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape and the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Environmental Stewardship Fund administered by the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council; PPL: Proctor and Gamble; the D & L Trail Alliance and the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For more information about the program, to register, volunteer or make a contribution, visit the website www.KAZpassport.org or call 570-970-5040.