Trail ride, cleanup showcase many positives of AOAA
After many negative headlines regarding the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) in recent weeks, two upcoming events will help showcase much that is good about this economic-development project.
Beyond the out-of-area off-highway vehicle riders, equestrians and hikers who will be attracted to the AOAA, the park, for some groups, has become a focus of community betterment.
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Among them is the Anthracite Trail Riders (ATR), a local ATV club formed last year in response to the AOAA development. ATR is sponsoring a 25-mile trail ride this Sunday at the park to benefit Geisinger's Children's Miracle Network (CMN). Not surprisingly, in its long history, this is the first time CMN will have ATVs involved in a fundraiser, a cool distinction indeed.
The benefit ride represents the latest step in a nicely developing relationship between the AOAA and Geisinger. The latter paid last month to have state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) instructors conduct another ATV safety course at the park, and ATR decided to give back through sponsoring the CMN benefit for Geisinger.
The public is welcome to Sunday's event, and you don't have to ride anything. Tents and tables will be set up at the trailhead off Route 125 for "spectators," and there will be vendors, including Friendship Fire Company from Shamokin and One Smart Cookie, Coal Township, selling food.
Also, ATR last spring sponsored a cleanup on AOAA land, and another such effort is planned next Saturday and Sunday. In conjunction with the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful program, the Northumberland County Planning Department - which is responsible for the AOAA's development - has organized this cleanup effort.
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And so we do an assessment of the impact of just these next two weekends at the AOAA:
- Geisinger, a multimillion-dollar operation that's central to the region, not just as a nationally respect health care provider, but as an economic engine, job provider and advocate of overall community wellness, is involved.
- Local businesses and emergency providers stand to profit.
- Beyond off-roaders, anyone can witness, participate in or lend support to these events.
- A new local club, born from the AOAA project, is demonstrating its intentions of not only helping locals enjoy organized trail riding, but helping the community at large.
- And efforts to reverse decades of illegal dumping are part of the AOAA picture.
The complexity and boldness of the AOAA project will continue to produce controversy, but leave no doubt about this: There are many positives for the community beyond the park simply being a "great place to ride."