Pennsylvania Wilds honors county efforts

A local group and an individual will be honored next month by Pennsylvania Wilds for their outstanding efforts in sustainable tourism development.

The Great Event Award will be presented to Warren County Winterfest, which is being recognized as “one of the largest winter events in the Pennsylvania Wilds, drawing upwards of 12,000 in peak years to Chapman State Park to enjoy sled riding, ice fishing, ice skating, snow showing, snow sculpting, chainsaw carvings, and horse-drawn trolley rides,” PA Wilds said in a press release.

The Outstanding Leader Award will be presented to Joe Colosimo for his work with Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways near the Allegheny Reservoir in the Allegheny National Forest.

PKP was previously recognized with a PA Wilds Champions of the Wild Award and a Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry Excellence in Tourism Award.

“This newest award means a lot to both myself and PKP. It validates the hours of time and hard work the team has put into PKP’s collection of projects and tells us we must be heading in the right direction,” Colosimo said on Wednesday. “It is very important to note that we have had a lot of support along the way and would not be as far along without the wonderful and dynamic partnerships we have been fortunate to have built over the past three to four years.”

The future mountain bike/hike trails at Jakes Rocks will boost regional tourism and statistics show that people will drive as far as eight to 10 hours for quality trail experiences, which means they will travel through Warren, Elk, McKean County, Colosimo said.

“There are so many great assets in northwest Pennsylvania already. Coupling this trail system with existing regional assets like the North Country Trail, Kinzua Viaduct, Artisan Trail, Tuna Valley Trail Association’s work, the eagle watching platform and the Elk Country Visitor Center will really help promote the region as a whole and will stimulate the local economies,” Colosimo said.

PA Wilds singled out Colosimo for “his ability to consistently bring opposing groups together for a common goal; think big; find creative solutions; and keep intern and external partners focused on immediate goals until success is realized.”

PKP is an all-volunteer group that Colosimo said helps establish the identity of a community and is even more important during difficult economic conditions.

Colosimo was an early member of Leadership Warren County program, and he attributed the success of PKP to the group by providing an opportunity and forum to formally launch it.

“While we have evolved in both scope and complexity since our time in the program, I can confidently say that there would not be a PKP if it were not for the Leadership Warren program. It is a great program and an asset to the community,” he said.

“A strong volunteer base helps overcome these economic difficulties and avoid identity crises. There is never a wrong reason to volunteer. I have always said that it is better to have a selfish volunteer than a selfless spectator. Programs like LWC help encourage people to volunteer and helps provide them the tools they need to do so,” Colosimo said.

A member of the Warren County Winterfest committee declined to comment on receiving the award.

The PA Wilds’ region includes Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Lycoming, Clinton, Cameron, Forest, Jefferson, Elk, Clearfield, Clarion and northern Centre counties.

The PA Wilds’ awards dinner will be held Thursday, May 2, at the Red Fern Conference and Banquet Center in Kersey.