From the Park Manager's Desk
The park maintenance staff has been busy installing a total of four interpretive "waysides" or educational signs. Two of them provide information about the timber rattlesnakes and are entitled “Born to Be Wild and Respected….” One is in the lobby of the Education Building and the second is at the intersection of Rock Scree and Forest Heritage Trails. The third wayside, “Bring Home the Natives,” highlights the value and uses of PA native plants. This sign is along the sidewalk in front of the Education Building. And the fourth, “Alien Invaders! They’re all around you” focuses on the issues of invasive plants. It is located on the paved trail near the restrooms at the Pine Plantation.
The maintenance staff also installed a new information kiosk at the Pine Plantation and new Use Area signs throughout the Center.
We have scheduled the long overdue work on the section of the Boundary Trail that goes through the timbered section of Michaux State Forest and intersects with the Buck Ridge Trail.
Work continues on the new butterfly house, which is located by the side entrance to the Mansion Garden. We hope this Friends of King Gap-sponsored project will be completed in the next several weeks.
Remember to take a few minutes to complete the Penn’s Parks For All survey. Your input is needed to help guide the future of Pennsylvania’s State Parks.
The Center held its first Heritage Day on June 11th. The day, which included building tours, carriage rides, food, games, and a cake walk, had an attendance of 497 despite the hot, humid weather. At this point, we plan to make it an annual event! Many thanks to the Kings Gap staff, our volunteers, and the financial support of the Friends of Kings Gap for helping make this event a success.
The first floor of the Cameron-Masland mansion is open most Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. through October for self-guided tours. We need additional volunteers to act as docents in the mansion on these days. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg at (717) 486-3799 for details.
On July 17, 2015, we lost our then new dump to fire. The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined. On June 27, 2017 we received its replacement. We are very pleased to now have a 2017 Dodge Ram 5500 4WD Diesel Dump Truck with Plow and Spreader!
There are black bears on the mountain! In recent months, we have had increased bear sightings in the Kings Gap Hollow and Mansion areas. The other evening a bear destroyed the birder feeder at the Education Building. As required by game law, we have temporally removed all feeders. The idea being that if you remove the food source, the bear is less likely to return. The black bear population in Pennsylvania is continuing to grow. So, your likelihood of seeing a bear on South Mountain is increasing. In the next week or so we will be posting information on the FOKG website on what to do if you encounter a black bear while in the woods. For additional information please contact the Center.
The staff graduated the first DiscoverE Camps of the summer. Openings are still available for some camp dates. Please contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for additional information.
We would like to welcome Christina Stouffer and Paul Welte as our summer camp interns.
Despite rain on the first day, the annual Plant Sale and Spring Garden Days was success. Plants are still available and can be yours for $5.00 each. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for availability.
Montsera Road is closed at the bridge over the Yellow Breeches Creek. The road will be closed until mid-July for a bridge replacement project. Follow posted detours. Alternate Route: Follow Montsera Road and take a right onto Enck’s Mill Road. At the stop sign turn left onto Pine Road to Kings Gap.
With the assistance of a recent Eagle Scout project, work is well underway at the Pinebrook Access Area. The entrance sign and picnic tables are in place. The kiosk is nearly completed and the new trail is coming along nicely. Thank you, Eagle Scouts!
Starting Memorial Day weekend, we will open the first floor of the Mansion to self-guided tours on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Additional Mansion volunteers are needed to help staff these Sundays. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg by email or call (717) 486-3799 for details.
With the hazardous tree removal project complete, there is some easily accessible firewood available for cutting in the Mansion Area. Contact the Center at (717) 486‑5031 for details and to obtain a firewood permit. The cost is $20.00 per cord (two pick-up loads).
Work is currently underway on a new trail and trailhead at the Pinebrook Access Area. A recently completed Eagle Scout project included installing a sign, kiosk, and picnic table, and some trail work. Volunteers, members of the Friends of Kings Gap, and park staff are continuing the trail work.
Park staff members are back to work for the season and we are increasing our weekend activities and staffing as the month progresses.
The annual leaf removal work at the Mansion Area is nearly complete. We are behind schedule on our annual “road-gutter” cleaning.
The Cameron-Masland Mansion will be open on Sundays for the season beginning on May 28th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. To volunteer to be a Mansion Docent contact Sarah by email or by calling (717) 486-3799. No experience necessary.
The remainder of our seasonal staff, including park rangers, cooks, and food service workers, return to work on Monday, April 17th.
Repairs continue in the Cameron-Masland Mansion. The maintenance staff is working on repairing plaster wall cracks and has completed some ceiling upgrades. The Mansion will open for the season on Friday, April 22nd. Learn more
It’s spring clean-up time! The maintenance staff is working on the traditional leaf removal along the road. We have volunteer workdays scheduled on April 1st and 22nd, and on May 6th. Your help is needed to help rake leaves in the Mansion and Kings Gap Hollow areas and prepare the Center for the upcoming season. To lend a hand, please contact Sarah Berg at (717) 486-3799 or by e-mail.
The 2017 wedding season begins with our first wedding on Saturday, April 28.
We are seeking new volunteers to help with staffing the Mansion on Sundays. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg at (717) 486-3799 or by e-mail for details. The Mansion will open on the Sundays beginning May 28th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m
The Center will hold the annual Public Information Meeting and Volunteer Kickoff on Tuesday, March 7th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Education Building. The meeting will cover the Center’s maintenance and operational plans for the upcoming season, as well as education programming and volunteer opportunities. The meeting will also feature a question and answer session with the manager. Light refreshments will be served. Read more
The first volunteer workday for the season, “Spring into Action,” is scheduled for Saturday, March 11th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Contact the Environmental Education office at (717) 486-3799 for additional information and to register.
We have completed the project to refinish the original “quarter sawn” oak floors on the first floor of the Cameron-Masland Mansion, and the floor is beautiful! The Mansion officially opens for the season on Friday, April 21st. Beginning May 28th, the Mansion will be open Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Firewood cutting is ongoing at the Center until May 1st. The price is $20.00 per cord (two pickup loads). Contact the Center office at (717) 486-5031 for details.
Last year at this time, we were struggling to clear the road of 28 inches of snow. Today, the mountain is almost snowless! If we actually do get some snow, please check the Kings Gap Facebook page and the Kings Gap Advisories page on the DCNR website for changing snow and road conditions.
The seasonal Environmental Education and Maintenance staff is scheduled to return to work on Monday, March 6th. Everyone you met last season is returning.
Work is underway to restore the original quarter-sawn oak flooring in the library, break room, and old dining room of the mansion. The work should be completed by mid-March.
There is plenty of easily accessible firewood still available! You need to cut it to length, but you can drive a pick-up truck to it. Contact the center office at (717) 486-5031 for information on purchasing a $20.00 firewood permit
Seven hundred sixty-one visitors enjoyed the 2016 Holiday Open House at the Cameron-Masland Mansion. A big thank you to all of the volunteers, staff, and attendees that helped make this event a success.
We are ready for snow! The dump truck and plow we have on loan from Pine Grove Furnace is ready for action. We also have the new John Deer 4-wheel drive tractor equipped with a snow blower. Word is that we will get our new dump truck late spring or early summer of 2017.
The 2016 deer season ended with hunters harvesting a total of 19 deer, which is one fewer than in 2015. This year's harvest included five antlered deer and 14 antlerless deer. The total harvest is below the 15-year average of 25.7, but less hunting pressure due, in part to bad weather, may have influenced the total.
A reminder that archery and flintlock deer hunting is currently open but the seasons end on January 14th. The no-hunting areas are in effect during these seasons.
Firewood cutting at the Center is underway effective January 1st. Wood permits are available at the Center office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The permits are $20 each and are good for two pick-up truck loads of wood per permit. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for more information
A reminder that deer season starts on Monday, November 28th and continues until Saturday, December 10th with no hunting on Sunday December 4th. The entire Center is open for deer hunting during this time including the posted no hunting areas. There is a safety zone in the mansion area. So if you are in the woods, make sure you wear fluorescent orange. BE SAFE – BE SEEN! Contact the Center office at (717) 486-5031 for questions on hunting.
We will again be borrowing a truck and plow from Pine Grove Furnace State Park to handle road maintenance this winter. The truck is now at Kings Gap ready for action! The good news is that we should be receiving our own new dump truck next summer.
We take a break from firewood cutting during the month of December but it resumes again on January 1st. Permits are $20.00 per cord. For more information on firewood cutting and the permits contact the Center office at (717) 486-5031.
On November 28th, we welcomed Greg Leister our new salaried Maintenance Repairman 2, This brings us up to our full complement of two salaried maintenance positions for the first time in two years.
As I write this report, decorating of the mansion for the Holiday Open House is already underway. There will be many new additions this year so be sure to visit us on December 4th and 11th from noon to 4:00 p.m. each day.
Despite the cloudy start, over 1,337 attendees and 65 volunteers helped make Garden Harvest Day 2016 a big success. Thanks to everyone who attended and a big thank you to our volunteers!
There are still volunteer opportunities for the first two weekends of November and we will be we be needing decorating help prior to the first open house in December. Watch for details or contact Sarah.
The trail bridge at the pond has finally been completed. The approximate final cost of the bridge including materials and installation was $13,000.00 with the Friends of Kings Gap providing almost $10,000.00 of the total funding for the project. A big thank you to the Friends of Kings Gap for their support in this project!
Our seasonal education and maintenance staff goes on leave for the season starting on November 12th. They are scheduled to return to work by mid-March 2017.
The mansion closes for the season on Sunday, November 20th. With the exception of Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 4th and 11th, the mansion will not be open on Sundays again until May 2017.
Our new salaried Maintenance Repairman 2 is scheduled to start on Monday, November 28th. More details to follow.
Deer hunting season starts on Monday, November 28th and runs until Saturday, December 10th with no hunting on Sunday, December 4th. Remember that the entire center including posted “no hunting” areas are open to deer hunting during this time. There is a safety zone area around the mansion. The Center is still open to hiking, but be sure to wear fluorescent orange if you are in or near the woods. For more information on hunting at Kings Gap contact the Center office at 717-486-5031.
Holiday Open House is just around the corner! It is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th and 11th from Noon to 4:00PM each day. Look for some new additions to the mansion decorations this year!
October is also the start of the fall firewood cutting season at the Center. The season runs from October 1st to Thanksgiving Day. The permit fee is $20.00 per cord of firewood. One cord of firewood equals two pick-up truck loads with 8 ft. beds, level with the top of the bed of the truck. Permits can be obtained from the Center office Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for additional information.
The long awaited bridge project at the pond is expected to be completed by contractors by the middle of October. Another volunteer trail project is slated for early November. Additional details to follow.
Interviews for the salaried maintenance position have been completed and the selection announcement should be made by the end of October.
Saw-whet owl banding gets underway at the center in the middle October. Public programs will be scheduled for the end of October and early November. Watch for dates and details.
The new manager for Pine Grove Furnace State Park should be in place by September 19th. Until then I am still doing double duty as manager of Kings Gap and Pine Grove. It has certainly been an “interesting” summer.
We are hoping to get the new map kiosk in place at the Kings Gap Hollow parking area within the next couple of weeks. Most of the kiosk has been pre-constructed and stained in the maintenance building so actual installation should only take a few days.
Beginning in September, work will finally start on trailhead sign replacement. The work will get a jump start though an Eagle Scout project that includes the installation of ten signs and two new benches.
Volunteer opportunities will be plentiful in next several months starting with a volunteer day on Saturday, September 3rd. One of the projects on the 3rd will be additional work on the pond impoundment at Kings Gap Hollow. This will be muddy, wet work so come out and join the fun! September, 24th is National Public Lands Day. The projects have yet to be determined but the day includes lunch! In early November, we plan to begin work on the replacement bridge at the pond. We will need volunteers to help with this special project. Contact the Center for details and to sign-up.
Garden Harvest Day is Sunday, October 2nd. It is one most attended events of the year with an average attendance over 1,000. We will need more than 30 volunteers to make the day happen. This year all volunteers will receive a Garden Harvest Day t-shirt. Watch for information about volunteer opportunities in the near future. We need your help!!
I am still serving as interim manager at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and probably will be through Labor Day. I keep running into people at Pine Grove who ask “Aren’t you the guy from Kings Gap?” Yes that’s me!
The recent archery program for beginners was a BIG success. Check out the FOKG Facebook page for a photo. We will schedule another archery program this fall.
The new furniture for the Mansion Living Room has arrived! It looks great with the new area rugs, so be sure to stop in and check it out. The next Mansion project, slated to start in the next several weeks, is ceiling painting and installation of crown molding in the dining room, then downstairs bedroom ceilings and all of the bathroom ceilings.
With the renovations completed on the Scenic Vista Kiosk, the staff repainted the Mansion Kiosk and replaced its bulletin boards. Next up: the construction of a new kiosk at Kings Gap Hollow.
We recently received the long-awaited permits for the replacement of the bridge at the Pond. This project will be a joint Kings Gap and Friends group endeavor with the FOKG covering the majority of costs. We hope to start construction in September and will be asking for volunteers to help with the construction.
I am currently serving as interim manager at Pine Grove Furnace. This means I will be spending a few days week at Pine Grove Furnace until the new manager is hired. So if you visit Pine Grove you may see me there!
Be sure to check out the newly waxed brick floor and the new area rugs in the Cameron-Masland Mansion living room. The first floor of the Mansion is open most Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. through October. We are still in need of additional volunteers to act as docents in the Mansion on Sundays. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg at (717) 486-3799 for details.
We have completed renovations to the kiosk at the Scenic Vista Parking Area and placed a new coating of stones on the Black Gum Parking Area. The maintenance staff is also replacing the remainder of our all wood picnic tables with new, metal-legged tables.
Timber rattlesnake sightings are up significantly this year. Be aware particularly if you are hiking through rocky areas. Most snake bites occur when people try to catch or pick up these snakes. They are not aggressive and won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Remember that rattlesnakes are fully protected on South Mountain: You are prohibited from killing or in any way disturbing these snakes.
The staff graduated the first DiscoverE Camps of the summer. Openings are still available for some camp dates. Please contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for additional information.
We would like to welcome Jenna Antonelli as our summer camp intern!
The Center will be conducting its first Family Archery program on Saturday, July 23rd. The program is open to first-time and novice archers. Thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, we will be providing equipment for the participants of this program. The program is free of charge, but pre-registration is required. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for additional information and to register.
The annual plant sale was a great success. There are some plants left over from the plant sale, which can be yours for $5.00 each. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for availability.
We will be welcoming two new staff members to the mountain next week. They are Park Ranger John Pritchett and Laborer Keith Filer.
Jim Barbour, our maintenance repairman, will be promoted effective June 11th. Congratulations, Jim!
Thanks in part to an Eagle Scout project, we have installed a sign, two picnic tables, and a kiosk at the Irish Gap Access Area. A similar project will soon be underway at the Pinebrook Access Area. We are also currently remodeling the Youth Conservation Corp-era kiosk at the Scenic Vista parking lot.
The brick floor of the Mansion living room is getting a new coat of wax and new area rugs. New window treatments have been installed in the Mansion dining room.
Starting Memorial Day weekend, we will open the first floor of the Mansion to self-guided tours on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Additional Mansion volunteers are still needed to help staff these Sundays. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg by e-mail or call 717-486-3799 for details.
The rattlesnakes are out! We had the first reported timber rattlesnake (black phase) sighting of the season at the Pump House Parking Lot on April 22nd. Remember timber rattlesnakes are protected on South Mountain.
We are still working on filling the Park Ranger 1 and Semi-skilled Laborer positions. It is becoming a longer than necessary process because “interested” candidates are not returning our calls for interview. We hope to have the positions filled by the end of May.
The annual road “gutter” cleaning and leaf removal is nearly complete. This will free up our maintenance personnel for other projects.
We ordered and received new signs for the Use Areas, Access Areas, and Parking Lots. We hope to begin installing them by June.
The mansion will be open on Sundays for the season beginning on May 29th from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Contact Sarah by e-mail or by calling 717-486-3799 if you would like to volunteer to be a Mansion Docent! No experience necessary.
We are bringing back Spring Garden Days! In the addition to the annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 7th and Sunday, May 8th, we have added a variety of garden and plant-related programs and free kids crafts. Visit the Events page of the FOKG website and our Facebook page for additional information. Also, be sure to join us for our annual Mother’s on the Mountain: Hike and Brunch on Sunday, May 8th. Pre-registration and payment is required. Call 717-486-5031 for information.
The remainder of our seasonal staff returns on Monday, April 4, including Park Ranger Jerry Diehl and our Food Service staff. We will also be welcoming our newest Environmental Education Specialist (EES) Kathy Serfass to our Staff. The long vacant salaried Park Maintenance 2 position is set to go to bid, and we are finalizing the hiring of a Park Ranger 1 and Cook 1.
The Center received $35,000 of “400 Money” (money to be used to purchase equipment), and we’re using it to purchase a John Deere 4-wheel drive compact tractor with mower, loader, backhoe, and snowblower attachments. Yeah!!!
The maintenance staff is working on the traditional spring clean-up, like clearing leaves along the road. They will also be cleaning out and reorganizing the mansion attic and basement, and the maintenance building. A large roll-off dumpster has just been delivered to the mountain to facilitate the clean out.
We have volunteer workdays scheduled on April 2, 16, and 30. Your help is needed to help rake leaves in the Mansion area and prepare the Center for the upcoming season. To lend a hand, please contact Sarah Berg at 717-486-3799 or by e-mail.
The 2016 wedding season begins with our first wedding on Saturday April 9.
The Mansion will open on the Sundays beginning May 29, and we are seeking new volunteers to help with staffing the Mansion on Sundays. No experience is necessary. Contact Sarah Berg for details
We will hold the annual Public Information Meeting and Volunteer Kickoff on Wednesday, March 9th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Education Building. The meeting will cover the Center’s maintenance and operational plans for the upcoming season, as well as education programming and volunteer opportunities. The meeting will also feature a question and answer session with the manager. Registration requested by contacting Sarah Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The seasonal education and maintenance staff return to work on March 7th. We are currently in the process of hiring our third Environmental Education Specialist and hope to have the position filled by April. The rangers and our food service staff will return to work in the beginning of April. There is a hiring freeze on salaried positions so we are still waiting on our vacant salaried maintenance position.
We now have a budget allocation and “normal” operational spending is underway. We have until May to spend our allocation.
Mansion upgrades are continuing. Information on room rentals should be available in late spring.
Firewood cutting is ongoing at the Center until May 1st. The price is $20.00 per cord (two pick-up loads). Contact the Center office at 717-486-5031 for details.
The snow is the big news. We received over 28 inches! Currently the road is closed to vehicle traffic above the Pine Plantation, just beyond the second bridge, due to the snow berms from plowing creating a one-lane, no passing area. We hope the predicted warm weather will allow us to have the road open by the end of the first week of February, if not before. The Pine Plantation is partially open and has limited parking. Check our Facebook page and the Kings Gap Advisories page on the DCNR website for changing conditions.
The state does have a partial budget but more important for Kings Gap is receipt of our budget allocation, so we’re back to business as usual in terms of purchasing. Early this spring we will be filling a salaried Maintenance position and the following wage positions: Environmental Education Specialist, Park Ranger 1, and Food Service Worker.
We have a vacant Park Ranger 1 position as a result of Joe Williamson accepting a DCNR Ranger position at Caledonia State Park effective April 2016. Best of luck to Joe.
Snow and weather conditions permitting, keep your eyes open for announcements of scheduled hikes in February. We hope this will be an opportunity to get out the snow shoes!
Sarah Berg is beginning to schedule educational events for the spring season. She hopes to have the summer camp schedule ready for distribution by the end of the second week of February.
We had a volunteer workday scheduled for Saturday, January 24, but had to cancel it because of the big snow. Keep alert for a new workday as soon as practicable.
On Tuesday, December 29th, the Governor signed the budget bill for Fiscal Year 2015-16. Although it appears that the budget will provide stable funding for normal operations, we await more information to clarify the impact of the delay.
We are ready for snow! The dump truck and plow we have on loan from Pine Grove Furnace has been fitted with our spreader from the old Ford truck and is ready for action.
The 2015 deer season ended with a much increased harvest from 2014. This year's harvest included eight antlered deer (one very large 9-point) and 12 antlerless deer. The total harvest is still below the 15-year average of 25.7, but is much improved over the record low harvest of nine deer for 2014.
A reminder that archery and flintlock deer hunting is currently open but the seasons end on January 9th. The no-hunting areas are in effect during these seasons.
Firewood cutting at the center is underway effective January 1st. Wood permits are available at the Center office Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The permits are $20 each and are good for two pick-up truck loads of wood per permit. Contact the Center at (717) 486-5031 for additional information.
If the mild winter weather persists, we hope to schedule volunteer work days in January and February. We have several overlooks, including the front of the mansion, that need to be cleared; the work will involve cutting trees and shrubs and dragging them to the chipper. Keep your eyes open for the announcement of the dates and times. We will provide hot soup for all volunteers. Happy New Year!