Y Walk Wednesdays 2017           Most Wednesdays throughout the summer!  Sponsored by Highmark and the City of Wilkes-Barre Health Department.

A series of free, guided evening walks featuring downtown neighborhoods, history, architecture, wildlife and new development in Wilkes-Barre. All walks begin promptly at 6:00 pm leaving from the YMCA lobby.  Walks are approximately 90 minutes long and lead by volunteer leaders.  Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and bring water.

In case of rain or extreme heat the walk will be postponed until the same time the following evening.  If raining or hot the following evening then the walk is cancelled and will not be rescheduled. The KAZ Passport Scavenger hunt question and answer will be provided on each walk. For information call the YMCA, 570-823-2191

June 7              Millionaires and Mansions.  An architectural and social history stroll past some of 19th and early 20th century homes of several of Wilkes-Barre’s leading families.  Walk Leader: Tony Brooks, Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society.

June 14            Native, Alien & Medicinal Plants of the Kirby Natural Area.  Learn from folklore, history and science the benefits, drawbacks, unique uses and special powers of the many plants that call Kirby Park’s wild, riparian woodland home.  Walk Leader: Ken Klemow, Wilkes University.

June 21            Keeping the Susquehanna Out of Our Living Rooms. Our local Wyoming Valley Flood Protection levee system works hard to keep the Susquehanna’s waters where they belong: in the river. Explore the inner and outer workings; discover the system’s secrets on the Agnes Flood anniversary (June 23rd1972). Walk Leader: Chris Belleman: Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority

June 28            A Sidewalk View to Building a More Walkable Downtown.  People use the word “Walkability” but what does the term really mean? Learn what is making our city’s streetscapes safer, more efficient and more usable for all.  Walk Leader: Larry Newman, Diamond City Partnership.

July 12             A Walk on the Wild Side: The Kirby Park Natural Area. Explore the natural and wild wonders of the park’s riparian forest, the wildlife that call it home, some history and the important role it plays as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Walk Leader: Vinnie Cotrone, Penn State Cooperative Extension.

July 19             Tour the Luzerne County Courthouse.  The Luzerne County Courthouse is a lavish neoclassical gem from the heyday of Luzerne County’s coal baron period.  Tour the people’s house and learn about what goes on inside. Walk Leader: Richard M. Hughes, III, President Judge.

July 26             Walking Your Way to a Healthier You.  Learn more about the many ways that regular activity like walking can improve your physical and mental health as well as decrease your risk for a variety of conditions including cancer, diabetes and obesity. Walk Leader: Pam Gurtis, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Aug. 2              A Journey Through Kings College. Wander through Kings’ campus and surroundings and discover the history of the buildings and area. Learn how the transition of the campus and community are connected with the city’s ever-changing society and culture.  Walk Leader: Paul Zbiek, Kings College.

Aug. 9              A D&L Heritage Corridor Photo Safari. While hunting for photogenic gems at the northern terminus of the D&L Trail, you will get the latest on the progress to connect the 165 mile route from Bucks County to Wilkes-Barre. Bring your camera! The best pics will be featured in social media posts and local media.  Walk Leaders: Lauren Golden & Mike Burnside, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor

Aug. 16            Walking and Judaism in Downtown Wilkes-Barre.  Take an exodus through downtown Wilkes Barre, visiting local synagogues, closed and open, and learn about walking in Jewish tradition, and the Wyoming Valley’s invisible wall known as an eruv. Rabbi Roger Lerner, Temple B’nai B’rith.



Lands & Water

Using Our Protected Lands & Water

Luzerne County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole, is lucky to have many acres of protected land and water. Some of this land is owned by the Commonwealth or local municipalities, and some is owned by not-for-profit organizations or private citizens and protected by land trusts and other programs.

KAZ LogoProtected land and water provides a wealth of benefits to citizens, far beyond the cost of protection. Benefits include absorption of stormwater and flood prevention, passive pollution treatment systems (water, air and light pollution), wildlife habitat protection, propagation of game and sportfish, and local climate/temperature stabilization, and many many more.

Much of our protected land and water is also available for recreation, including walking, bicycling, hunting, fishing, paddling, swimming, picnicking and many other options.

The list below shows how to use each type of publicly protected property, and where to go for more information: 

  • Local Parks and Trails: For more information about local parks and trails contact the municipality or local park or trail organization using links at www.kazpassport.org.   Some information is also available at the visitor’s bureau webside, www.tournepa.com. Facilities and uses at local parks vary from basic– playgrounds and playing fields– to more specialized, including handball courts, fishing lakes, swimming pools, and motorcross trails.   Local trails are usually either hiking trails, mountain biking trails or multi-use trails. Multi-use trails have a packed gravel surface, or even asphalt and avoid steep grades. These trails offer moderate exercise for bicyclists and walkers who may not want to undertake steep climbs, rocky surfaces, narrow paths, or other challenges.
  • Local Conservation Properties: Undeveloped properties may be conserved via a conservation easement administered by the North Branch Land Trust or by the Wildlands Conservancy for properties near the Lehigh River. Some properties allow public access. Contact the North Branch Land Trust at www.nblt.org or the Wildlands Conservancy at http://www.wildlandspa.org. Luzerne County also runs an Agricultural Land Preservation Program which preserves farms on significant soils via conservation easements. For more information call the Luzerne County Planning Commission at 570-825-1560 or select the program at the planning commission website: www.luzernecounty.org/county/departments_agencies/planning_commission
  • Lakes, Rivers, Water Trails and other Waters of the Commonwealth: The Fish and Boat Commission has jurisdiction over all waters of the Commonwealth, “all inland, tidal and boundary waters whether navigable and non-navigable”; this includes all streams, ponds, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs of all sizes. The Commission also owns or controls nearly 300 fishing and boating access sites – roughly half of the state’s access that is open to the public.
Group Of Friends On Walk Balancing On Tree Trunk In Forest
Group Of Friends On Walk Balancing On Tree Trunk In Forest

Commonwealth waters provide opportunities for many different forms of recreation—boating, kayaking, canoeing, water-skiing and jet-skiing, and fishing, including gathering bait fish and other water creatures (frogs, etc).  However, swimming is prohibited at Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission lakes and access areas. The Fish and Boat Commission has mapped over 1000 miles of water trails, including the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County; these are routes suitable for canoes, kayaks and small motorized watercraft. Water trails are comprised of access points, boat launches, day use sites, and — in some cases — overnight camping areas.

The mission of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is to protect,  conserve and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. The Commission enforces rules and issues licenses for fishing and boating in order to minimize conflicts and maintain the quality of aquatic resources.   Licenses issued include annual fishing licenses, boat registrations for motorboats and boats powered by electric motors, boater safety certificates for people operating personal water craft (jetskis), and launch permits to permit all boats (including kayaks, canoes and other boats without motors) to launch from a State Park or Commission boat launch.

For more information contact the North East Pennsylvania Regional Office of the Fish and Boat Commission at 5566 Main Road Sweet Valley, PA (570) 477-5717or go to the Fish and Boat Commission website at www.fish.state.pa.us.

  • State Forests: The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) Bureau of Forestry is charged with managing state forests “under sound ecosystem management, to retain their wild character and maintain biological diversity while providing pure water, opportunities for low density recreation, habitats for forest plants and animals, sustained yields of quality timber, and environmentally sound utilization of mineral resources.”

Recreational uses of state forests include camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, paddling and boating, birding, rock climbing,  ATV riding, hunting, snowmobiling, and other uses. Specific uses depend on each individual forest. Luzerne County State Forest land is part of PA DCNR District 11, the Lackawanna State Forest. For more information, and maps, contact the district office at RR 1, Box 230 Dalton, PA (570) 945-7133 or see www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/stateforests/lackawanna.

  • State Parks: The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages 116 State Parks via its Bureau of State Parks. The primary purpose of state parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education. In meeting these purposes, the conservation of the natural, scenic, aesthetic, and historical values of the parks are given first consideration. Unlike State Forests and Gamelands, state parks are not managed for resource extraction (minerals, logging) or game propagation, though hunting is permitted in certain state parks.

Luzerne County includes 4 state parks wholly or in part in its boundaries: Francis Slocum State Park, Nescopeck State Park, Lehigh Gorge State Park, and Ricketts Glen State Park.  Over 4,000 acres of state park land are located in Luzerne County, though the four state parks in total encompass more than 20,000 acres of park land. Recreational activities available differ from park to park, but include activities such as swimming, rafting, snow-shoeing, hiking, bicycling, and camping. State parks hire naturalists to provide environmental education programs during summer months, like star watching, insect observation and others—Nescopeck State Parks’ environmental education center provides year-round programming. All four state parks include significant water features, from waterfalls to white water rafting, to fishing lakes (a valid fishing license is required).

To find out more about what is happening, and permitted activities in local state parks, use the State park website and calendar for the North- East Pennsylvania Mountain Region at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/region_northeast.aspx. Also, use the links for the individual state parks in Luzerne County on this website to contact the specific park offices.

  • State Gamelands: The Pennsylvania Game Commission is responsible for managing all of Pennsylvania’s wild birds and mammals. To ensure wild animals always have food and shelter, the agency, since 1920, has been purchasing lands for inclusion in its State Game Lands system, which currently contains about 300 separate tracts comprising a total of more than 1.4 million acres. Each State Game Lands has an individual management plan designed to improve wildlife habitat and provide recreational opportunities. Hunters, anglers, hikers, birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts are welcome on State Game Lands.

Hunters and trappers must pay for the appropriate licenses and inform themselves of seasons and bag limits by contacting the Game Commission or looking at the Game Commission website. Youth under the age of 17 must complete a Hunter-Trapper education course before applying for their first license. Youth under the age of 12 need a Mentored Youth Hunt permit.

Equestrians and bicycles may only use dedicated routes in State Game lands, and may not use trails from during specific hunting seasons in the fall through much of January and in April and May. Registered snow-mobiles may use dedicated routes from the third Sunday in January until April 1st.   The Game Commission also operates public shooting ranges at State Gamelands, including two in Luzerne County, at State Gameland 91 and Gameland 206.

Luzerne County includes over 45, 000 acres of State Gamelands in multiple parcels ranging in size from 300 acres to over 14,000 acres. To find maps of State Gamelands in Luzerne County and dedicated routes for snow-mobiles, equestrians and bicycles, see Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.state.pa.us and go to Northeast Regional Office under “About Us” , or contact the office at PO Box 220, Dallas PA, (570) 675-1143.

LiveWell Luzerne is a community health consortium housed at the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, with a steering committee that meets monthly.

LiveWell Luzerne focuses on the health of all Luzerne County, and is part of the healthy communities movement, “helping to make it easy to be healthy where we live, learn, earn, play and pray.”

livewelllogoOur Vision:
An active, thriving, diverse Luzerne County that supports wellness and a safe and healthy environment

Our Mission:
Use education, coalition-building, advocacy and research to empower everyone to lead happier, healthier lives

Our Projects:
Summertime Bus to the Park.  Live Well Luzerne, in partnership with Frances Slocum State Park and the Luzerne County Transit Authority, announce a bus route leaving the Wilkes-Barre Intermodal Center everyday but Sunday, and travelling through a number of West side towns to Frances Slocum State Park.  Call BUS-TIME (287-8463) or go to www.lctabus.com for more information.

Luzerne County Keystone Active Zone:  an on-line scavenger hunt through our local parks and trails.  www.kazpassport.org

Luzerne County Healthy Community Challenge:  Bringing local municipalities together with community champions and not-for-profits to make lasting healthy changes.  This project included a conference introducing recommended community health interventions (CDC, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), with Mark Fenton as the keynote presentor, and a mini-grant application.  Attendance at the conference was required to apply for the mini-grant. Nine grants were awarded for diverse projects such as a Farmer’s Market in Hazleton, improving access to a park and historic site through signage and a new gate, and a SRTS assessment for a downtown school.  Program ran from November 2009-March 2012.

For more information about specific projects and the program:

Healthy Community Challenge Celebration Slides  (this is a very large file)

Healthy Community Challenge Recommended Strategies Matrix

Wilkes-Barre ACHIEVE project: Spearheaded by the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, involve community leaders in the City of Wilkes-Barre in assessing and leading change toward creating a healthier City.  See the following prezi for some work that was part of the ACHIEVE project.

Summer Food n’ Fun in the parks:  In cooperation with the City of Wilkes-Barre, the Commission for Economic Opportunity, and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, provide park supervision and play and free lunches in Wilkes-Barre parks during the summer.

County Health Rankings Education:  In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, present information about the national County Health Rankings project to health and social service agencies.  Discuss report and suggest areas for targeted improvement, as well as strengths and weaknesses of data vis. Luzerne County.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Bicycle and Pedestrian Count.  Live Well Luzerne coordinated and analyzed results of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Bicycle and Pedestrian Count in 2009,2010, and 2012. For more information, contact Michele Schasberger.

Join Us!  Download our membership brochure here! (membership is free)

Or email Carol Hussa for more information.



Live Well Luzerne  History and Organization

Live Well Luzerne is a successor to the Steps to a Healthier US project in Luzerne County (2004-2009) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Active Living by Design funded program, Stepping Forward (2003-2008).

Two part-time healthy communities project managers both forward the mission of Live Well Luzerne, and help fulfill the mandate of the Y to promote healthy living and social responsibility.  Healthy Community project managers work closely with both the Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton YMCAs.

KAZ 2016

The KAZ Passport for Luzerne County is a FREE program that anyone, of any age or ability, can use to get outside and active at close-to-home parks, trails and free outdoor events over the spring and summer seasons. START ANY TIME.