Cook Forest: 2018 Park of the Year

As named by the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation, a 501(c)(3) affiliated with the DER/DCNR, Cook Forest is the Park of 2018:

Park of the Year—Cook Forest State Park.

Fighting for the survival and protection of Pennsylvania’s old growth hemlocks.

This is taken from an email sent by PPFF on 19 January, and to date no further information has been found.  You can view the complete message, including all the other designees, here:

Any additional news regarding this designation will be posted as available.  In the mean time, please take a moment to tell us what you love most about the forest, and what you think we should focus on this coming year:  Submit a Survey!

It’s Squirrel Appreciation Day!

For those who enjoy celebrating obscure and slightly silly holidays: 21 January is Squirrel Appreciation Day.  Cook Forest has a fair number of squirrels — including chipmunks, which are ground squirrels — but the squirrels of the year at CFC are the southern flying squirrels:

Southern flying squirrel

These fellows are tiny (~ 2 oz), nocturnal (look at those eyes!), and fearless leapers – flying squirrels glide, rather than fly, using the furred membranes between their front and rear legs on each side, called the patagium.  Though they primarily leap among trees in a stand, they’ve been recorded gliding as far as 295 feet, which is nearly 98.5 yards, which is nearly a football field’s length – and they do it at speeds between 10 and 30 mph.

They’re predominately active at night and spend very little time on the ground, so many folks never see these fellows.  Despite a small disparity in size and coloration, it’s quite difficult to tell the southern from the northern flying squirrel, which is endangered in Pennsylvania.  Since the Cook Forest flying squirrels had pups (or “kits”) in the autumn, we know they’re the southern variety, as only the southern squirrel has two small litters annually.  Sugar gliders look similar, but are a different animal altogether.

Flying squirrels are among the only communal squirrels – as many as 30 have been found living in a single drey, since the’re so small they need to nest together to share body heat. Flying squirrels don’t hibernate, but they often become less active during colder weather.

Fun fact: if you find a nest in your attic, you’ve got a “scurry of squirrels!”  Lucky you!


Some of us are in the same boat:

southern flying squirrel under sofa
young flying squirrel investigating movie night

This is not his natural or his normal habitat, but he and his siblings won’t be evicted into custom-built three-tier tree-hung condos until spring.  If you’ve got a similar problem, please contact the CFC and we’ll happily share any advice or information.


Park Supporter Questionnaire

The CFC has lately obtained its 501(c)(3) charitable organization status, and is now working on the website and our initial park programs. Please help us out by taking a minute to let us know what’s most important to you — we’ve created a quick survey we’d very much appreciate your taking the time to submit:

Cook Forest Conservancy Questionnaire

[via SurveyMonkey – the link will open in new tab]

Let us know what brings you here, what you’d like to see for the Park’s future, and how we can improve.

Welcome to Cook Forest Conservancy News

Hello!  Welcome to the blog of the Cook Forest Conservancy.  We’re just starting out, and we’ve decided to keep things interesting by posting not only current news and events, but also mini-articles about flora and fauna and other things you might see in the forest.  The best way to navigate topics is the search bar, or the tags that should appear below [most] posts, which will bring up similar entries and more things to learn. 

The CFC does have a facebook page for posting & re-posting events and articles, and a twitter for similar, but please also  subscribe to our email newsletter list, which should be coming out in the [semi-]near future.  We promise to keep volume light, you can opt out any time, and the CFC will never sell or trade your contact information:

Thank you for Visiting!

welcome to the CFC’s news & information database

In addition to current events and timely articles, this “news” page is meant to serve as an archive of information on all things forest — flora & fauna posts, camping & hiking tips, etc.  Whatever you’d like to learn or remember, please browse using the tags, or search.