Underwear project, and an art and sunscreen at PA state parks

2022-06-24 06:07:21 By : Mr. Barry Tu

Staying connected with outdoor agencies across the state, it’s interesting to see what type of projects are happening. This week’s announcements involve everything from underwear to art projects and free sunscreen.

Yes, you read that right. I’m sharing some information on what to do with a pair of your old underwear.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation reports it has joined the Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalition, undergarments brand “The Big Favorite,” and other organizations to launch a "brief" campaign challenging everyone to learn about the health of their soil and neighborhood microbes, by planting underwear.

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The partnership invites anyone with a field (row crop or grazing), backyard garden, or lawn to plant a pair of 100% cotton underpants. Once the garments are planted, the CBF reports microbes in the soil will feast for 60 days. Then the participants will be asked to dig up their underwear and report their findings to organizations, and document them on social media. Based on the level of decomposition, the challenge partners will share tips on how to improve soil quality. The bottom line is the more the underwear decomposes, the healthier the soils are.

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 “The ‘Soil Your Undies’ campaign is a fun way for people to see if their soil has a healthy population of microbes that do amazing work,” Kelly O’Neill, CBF agricultural policy analyst in Pennsylvania, said in the announcement. “In addition to breaking down fabric, some microbes work to recycle dead plant material into nutrients that the plants can use, to reduce crop fertilizer needs. Others form networks among plant roots, to hold soil and nutrients in place. This keeps them where needed and prevents nutrients and soil from polluting local waterways.”

For more information about the “Soil Your Undies” campaign, visit www.pasoilhealth.org/soilyourundies.

If you visit a state park and forgot your sunscreen, there’s a good chance someone else has you covered.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is offering free sunscreen for visitors at 33 state park beaches and swimming pools throughout Pennsylvania.

Pole-mounted, battery-operated dispensers, supplying 30+ SPF BrightGuard sunscreen applications, are positioned at 33 of the 121 state parks including: Bald Eagle, Beltzville, Black Moshannon, Blue Knob, Caledonia, Canoe Creek, Chapman, Codorus, Cowans Gap, Frances Slocum, French Creek, Greenwood Furnace, Gifford Pinchot, Hills Creek, Keystone, Lackawanna, Laurel Hill, Little Buffalo, Marsh Creek, Moraine, Mt. Pisgah, Neshaminy, Nockamixon, Ohiopyle, Pine Grove Furnace, Poe Valley, Presque Isle, Raccoon Creek, Ricketts Glen, Shawnee, Shikellamy, Tobyhanna and Tuscarora.

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DCNR’s sunscreen program began in 2017 when its Bureau of State Parks began supplying free sunscreen at Codorus and Pine Grove Furnace state parks. The DCNR believes the program now has the potential to reach an estimated 1.5 million visitors this season.

A cancer prevention fund from the Department of Health is covering the cost of the sunscreen. DCNR reports it is pursuing opportunities to partner with local health organizations and healthcare system providers to cover future costs and to further expand the program.

Three state parks will have art on display this summer.

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced a new diversity, equity and inclusion partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts that is connecting students with local artists to create and display art at three state parks.

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The program is occurring at the following locations:

A fourth program is being planned at Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Cumberland County for the 2022-23 school year.

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“To reach new people about all the benefits state parks offer, this partnership has us working with students in schools in underserved communities,” Dunn said in the news release.

The bottom line is that state parks are becoming more welcoming each year. From having the sunscreen available at beach areas to partnering on art projects, the parks are worth multiple visits each year for each for us. After you clean out your underwear drawer for your soil testing project, head out to a state park near you.

Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at bwhipkey@gannett.com and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on your website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.