Camping and going off road go together as perfectly as peanut butter and jelly. Finding out one of the areas largest off road parks is going to have on-site camping is better than finding a dollar in a jacket you haven’t worn for a year.
The No. 1 request from users of the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) is about to be granted by Shamokin Area natives Eric Startzel and Jason Kramer. The business partners were approved by AOAA authority members, back in June, to lease 50 acres of county-owned land. Located at the entrance to the park, they are already working on the first phase of the project. AOAA users will soon have the ability to stay overnight on the property. They are predicting the first sites opening in a couple of weeks. These are preliminary sites that will be bare bones and partially unfinished.
“This should help the local economy vastly,” Startzel said. “There’s not a time at a park like this that you don’t have to go into town and buy something. You might have forgotten the ketchup. You might just buy all your food there. There’s a grocery store in every town.”
AOAA is located along Route 125 on 6,500 acres of Northumberland County forest and abandoned coal land. Covering Coal, East Cameron, Mount Carmel, West Cameron and Zerbe townships, the park has generated nearly half a million dollars in revenue since opening two years ago. Over the last two years they have sold over 22,000 thousand passes. If even a third of those choose to camp the newly added campsites will be full year round.
The first phase of construction is approximately nine to 18 months. This phase will build 52 primitive sites and an office on 8.4 acres. Blue Ridge Excavating is creating a new access road to the site. Makes things easier for those just looking to camp to stay out of the scrum of wheelers trying to get to the trails.
The second phase will add more amenities that includes drilling for wells to feed a bathhouse and toilets. Potable water will need to be trucked in for awhile.
Phase three focuses on long term camping for people who need or want full service hook ups for electricity and other services. Internet? Wi-Fi access? Cable?
Startzel, is the owner of EMS Offroad in Sunbury and his partner Kramer is the owner of Penn’s Creek Campground in Millmont.
AOAA operations director David Porzi stated that park users have been staying at Earth Day Campground, or at motels or hotels in the local area, but they have been asking about places to stay and sleep closer to the park.
In July, AOAA Authority officials announced a $215,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Agency would fund trail expansion and access to the Earth Day Campground.
“A few people have inquired about repair businesses, but nothing has materialized yet,” Porzi said. “A lot of people are asking questions, but not stepping up to bat yet.”
The AOAA also wants to focus on partnering with other local entities to promote regional tourism, such as Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pioneer Mine Tunnel in Ashland and local wineries.
“That’s the future,” he said.
(Some content and quotes sourced from the Daily Item.)