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Hands-On in StoneValley

Matt Basta
Matt Basta, a senior at Penn State majoring in biological ecology, records field research at Penn State’s Stone Valley. Photo by Patrick Mansell.

Living laboratory offers opportunities for research, recreation.

In the 1930s, the federal government acquired the land that is now known as the Stone Valley Recreation Area as part of the Land Resettlement Act that let farmers sell property not well suited to farming. That led to a U.S. Forest Service Experiment Station. Then, in the 1950s, the property was deeded to Penn State for use as an “outdoor classroom.” It is currently maintained by the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Today, Stone Valley contains Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Lake Perez, several cabins, and nearly 7,000 acres of forest, which are available for research. The land is home to many long-term forestry and ecology projects, including the second-longest-running watershed experiment in the country.

“It’s an operational forest used for teaching, research, and demonstration,” said Joe Harding, director of forestlands who oversees the property, “and it’s open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and camping—with a free permit.”

—Anne Danahy