MNC President, Vince Verbeke, dedicates the new wayfinding system, as well as new trailhead map and brochures for the Mount Nittany Conservancy at Grand Reopening of Mt. Nittany on May 16, 2010.
Here is the text of Pesident Verbeke’s remarks:
In 1945, the Lion’s Paw Alumni Association saved 525 acres from lumbering with a fundraising campaign among its few hundred members. However, encroachment on the Mountain continued. In 1981 , the Association formed the Mount Nittany Conservancy to acquire additional land. With community and alumni support, Mount Nittany Conservancy has obtained, through purchase or donation, more than 300 acres that faced detrimental uses. Today, the Conservancy manages both Lions Paw and Conservancy lands.
We continue to build and maintain trails and overlooks, conduct clean-up projects, and spray for gypsy moths when they threaten the trees of our beloved Mt. Nittany, most recently in 2008 and 2009.
To read from the mission of the Conservancy, we desire to acquire and conserve lands on and around Mount Nittany, a symbol of Penn State and the source of its legends. To benefit the public, the Mount Nittany Conservancy practices conservation, protection, and management of these lands as historic, scenic, recreational and environmental resources.
On Labor Day 2008 a State College woman and her three children – ages 6, 4, and 2 – were reported lost on Mt. Nittany at about 9 p.m. It was almost 2 a.m. on Tuesday by the time State College police, assisted by a search team from Central Region Emergency Strike Team (CREST) found them – uninjured but lost – on the backside of the Mountain and off the marked trails.
The Conservancy took this as a call to action. We want the Mountain to be safe and enjoyable for all.
We stand here today, May 16 2010, to dedicate twelve wayfinding markers located at important intersections along with additional signs that identify false trails to prevent the 2008 Labor Day incident as well.
One note about safety, don’t underestimate Mt. Nittany. It’s a tough mountain with a steep ascent to the Mike Lynch Overlook, know your physical limits. As with any hike, you should take have additional clothing, food, water, and if starting a hike at the end of the day, flashlights.
Finally, before there was a Conservancy, another body was steward of the mountain, and his name was Mike Lynch. A native of Somerset County, Mike was a student body president at Penn State. Mike was a frequent climber of Mount Nittany, even before Lion’s Paw bought its tract in 1946. Later, Mike would serve as chair of Lions Paw’s Mountain Committee. In that capacity-and he held the post for decades-Mike would organize mountain cleanups.
Mike was also a poet. To honor Mike (and I can feel him over our shoulders now smiling) I’d like to read his poem entitled Our Mountain.
Across the silent valley stands our Mountain old and strong,
Part of our college heritage in story and in song.
Through all the natural seasons, we watch her change her face,
Shedding the white of winter to green with gentle grace.
In the heat of the summer, she grows new leaves and wood,
In the golden glow of autumn, her beauty is understood.
What is it about this Mountain, with rugged rocks and rills,
That gives we Penn Staters a thousand prideful thrills.
It’s a sense of belonging to a school that’s part of us,
In the annals of our lives, we mark it as a plus.
Today, we pledge our loyalty to our Mountain and Old State,
By doing this, we join our founders, strong and great.
Today, walk the trails of Mt. Nittany as if for the first time. Enjoy Mt. Nittany and its vistas over these valleys. Treasure it. Help us to conserve it.
Why? Because, Mt. Nittany is OUR Mountain.