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Environment of Pennsylvania facts for kids

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Flag-map of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a northeastern commonwealth located in the United States of America. It was one of the 13 original colonies. Pennsylvania is home to a population of 12,802,503 individuals and various different types of environments. Pennsylvania is known for its many hills, plateaus, mountains and valleys. In fact, Pennsylvania is 50 percent forest land with the only lowlands located in the southeast.


Blue Knob mountain from the Quaker Valley of Pennsylvania
Blue Knob Mountain in the Quaker Valley of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has many different mountain ranges with the highest point being at 3,213 feet on Mt. Davis. The main mountain ranges include the Appalachian, Allegheny and Pocono Mountains. The Appalachian Mountain Range runs throughout Pennsylvania and seventeen other states, creating the largest mountain range in Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Mountain Range connects to the Appalachian Mountains in west and central Pennsylvania. The Pocono Mountain Range runs throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. The Allegheny and Pocono mountains are the two largest subranges in Pennsylvania. Other mountain ranges in Pennsylvania include the Bear Pond Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Conewago Mountains, Music Mountains, Town Hill Mountain Range, and the Endless Mountains. To find a full list of mountains in Pennsylvania look at Category:Mountain ranges of Pennsylvania.

Railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River north of Catawissa
Susquehanna River


Pennsylvania also has more significant waterways than any other US state. In fact, Pennsylvania has more than 83,000 miles of rivers, creeks, and streams. The main waterways are the Delaware River, Allegheny River, Ohio River, Monongahela River and the Susquehanna River. Every Pennsylvania river is categorized into five classifications by the Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers. The classifications are wild, scenic, pastoral, recreational, or modified recreational. Any individual river can have more than one classification, but they all have at least one. For a full list of river go to List of rivers of Pennsylvania.

Landfills in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania also has a vast amount of landfills. In total, Pennsylvania has 45 municipal waste landfills, 3 construction/demolition waste landfills, 4 residual waste landfills, and 6 resource recovery/waste to energy landfills. Below is a table of the 45 municipal landfills and their daily volume of trash entering the landfills daily. These landfills are not only holding the trash of the citizens of Pennsylvania, but they also hold the trash of other states. Pennsylvania is one of the main states that imports waste. Much of Pennsylvania's waste comes from neighboring states such as New Jersey and New York. In fact, Pennsylvania has more trash per person at 34.5 tons of trash per person than every other sate except Nevada in 2016. However, this process of importing waste is very lucrative for the Pennsylvania counties by providing labor market opportunities and helps increase the municipality's budgets by fees paid by these exporting states. For example, Throop, Pennsylvania $6 million budget is made up of $4 million from the host feels paid from importing other state's waste.

Landfill Name Daily Volume


Fairless Landfill adv: 18,333

mdv: 20,000

GROWS North Landfill Bucks
Tullytown Landfill Bucks
SECCRA Landfill adv: 375

mdv: 700

IESI Bethlehem Landfill adv: 1,375

mdv: 1,800

North Hampton
Commonwealth Environmental Systems adv: 4,750

mdv: 5,000

Chrin Brothers Sanitary Landfill adv: 1,500

mdv: 2,000

Alliance Landfill adv: 3,000

mdv: 5,500

Grand Central Landfill adv: 2,750

mdv: 3,000

Keystone Sanitary Landfill adv: 7,250

mdv: 7,500

Advanced Disposal Services Sandy Run Landfill adv: 750

mdv: 1,000

Conestoga Landfill adv: 5,210

mdv: 10,000

Rolling Hills Landfill adv: 3,200

mdv: 3,840

Cumberland County Landfill adv: 2,500

mdv: 2,950

LCSWMA Frey Farm Landfill adv: 1,500

mdv: 2,000

Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority Landfill adv: 520

mdv: 1,100

Lanchester Landfill adv: 1,650

mdv: 1,850

Modern Landfill adv: 4,667

mdv: 5,000

Mountain View Reclamation adv: 1,800

mdv: 2,000

Pioneer Crossing adv: 1,000

mdv: 1,600

IESI Blue Ridge Landfill adv: 1,700

mdv: 2,000

Western Berks Landfill adv: 1,000

mdv: 1,250

Bradford County Landfill adv: 500

mdv: 750

Wayne Township Landfill adv: 1,200

mdv: 1,500

Lycoming County Landfill adv: 1,600

mdv: 2,000

Arden Landfill adv: 2,400

adv: 2,800

Chestnut Valley Landfill adv: 1,200

mdv: 1,500

Greenridge Reclamation adv: 2,500

mdv: 2,500

Imperial Landfill adv: 3,100

mdv: 4,666

J.J. Brunner, Inc. Landfill adv: 425

mdv: 525

Kelly Run Sanitation adv: 1,250

mdv: 1,750

Laurel HIghland Landfill adv: 2,000

mdv: 2,500

South Hills Landfill adv: 2,280

mdv: 2,850

Monroevill Landfill adv:1,800

mdv: 2,200

Mostoller Landfill adv: 2,000

mdv: 2,400

Evergreen Landfill adv: 1,000

mdv: 1,500

Shade Landfill adv: 2,900

mdv: 3,500

Tervita Sanitary Landfill adv: 2,900

mdv: 3,500

Southern Alleghenies adv: 2,200

mdv: 3,300

Valley Landfill adv: 2,600

mdv: 4,000

Greentree Landfill adv: 5,500

mdv: 6,000

Lake View Landfill adv: 4,600

mdv: 5,000

McKean County Landfill adv: 6,000

mdv: 6,000

Northwest Sanitary Landfill adv: 2,500

mdv: 2,500

Seneca Landfill adv: 3,000

mdv: 3,000


Recycling in Pennsylvania


One way to reduce the amount of waste going to the Pennsylvania landfills is to have a recycling campaign. Recycling statewide began with the instatement of the Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act, also known as Act 101 in July 1988. Act 101 at this time had four major goals:

  1. Recycle 25 percent of PA's solid waste stream by January 1997
  2. Reduce waste going to landfills
  3. Increase the use of products that are recyclable or made from recycled material
  4. Educate each person in the commonwealth as to the value of recycling and waste reduction

These plans were going to be implemented throughout several phases within each municipality over the following years. A county's responsibilities were to manage the municipalities recycling efforts. In efforts to manage the municipalities the county would have to have a solid waste plan in place by March 1991, which would be revised every 3 years, and to submit annual reports to the state based on the efforts of each municipality's recycling efforts. These annual reports would then be combined to create a statewide report of its recycling efforts and the benefits gained by doing so. This act was funded by the Recycling Fund which created a $2-per-ton fee on all waste entering the landfills known as the recycling fee. In addition to the Recycling Fund they also received other grants such as the household hazardous Waste Collection and Disposal Grants, Host Municipality Inspector Grants, and Independent Permit Application Review Grants.

Act 101 in its essence is still in place today for all municipalities and has only been revised twice to help strengthen and grow the program. The most recent change to Act 101 happened in May 2010 which is the extension of the collection of the recycling fee of $2-per-ton to 2020. Other changes to Act 101 are Act 140 which established requirement for the spending of grants over 10,000 given to communities by Act 101. Act 140 also gave municipalities requirements such as:

  • "All residents must be required by ordinance to have waste and recycling services
  • Must have an implemented residential curbside recycling program
  • Must facilitate a commercial recycling program
  • Must provide semi-annual residential and commercial recycling education
  • Enforcement program
  • Special Materials Program- for the collection of special waste such as tires, white goods, HHW, etc. Must have provision for or participate in county, multi-municipal, or private sector collection efforts
  • Anti-Littering Program-through practice and/or education; sponsor, facilitate, or support programs that address anti-littering and illegal dumping
  • Recycling Coordinator-just have a designated person or entity responsible for recycling data collection and reporting"

The most recent results of these acts are as followed:

  • In 2014, Pennsylvania recycled over 16.84 million tons of resources with benefits of having 15.88 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions removed from the air.
  • In 2013, Pennsylvania recycled over 6.12 million tons of resources with benefits of having 7.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the air.
  • In 2012, Pennsylvania recycled over 8.5 million tons of resources.

EcoTourism in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's beautiful landscapes can be seen through its many national parks. In fact, Pennsylvania has 19 National Parks throughout the state. However, Pennsylvania has an additional 9 park sites that are either affiliated or managed by the National Park Service. This allows for a number of different avenues to bring in revenue throughout the parks within Pennsylvania that receive 9,935,361 individuals visiting them each year. These visitors create an overall economic benefit of $453,100,000 from tourism at these sites. This economic benefit can be the result of entrance fees, food purchases, and souveniors. Below is a table of the 19 National State Parks in Pennsylvania and their yearly operation costs and personal costs from the 2017 fiscal year. These operating costs are what are deducted from the parks revenue to find the total profit of each park. These operations costs include things such as maintenance of the parks and wages for park workers. The yearly personal costs are the costs of entrance for the parks. In addition, the table includes the yearly visitation of the parks to show the number of visitors that went through during the 2014 year. To begin to see a portion of the revenue made by these parks is the revenue made by entrance fees. To find this portion of the revenue, multiply the yearly visitation and the yearly personal costs. This will result in only one small portion of the yearly revenue that these parks produce.

National State Parks in PA Location in PA Yearly Operation Costs (Hundreds) Yearly Visitation Yearly Personal Costs
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site Gallitzin, PA 2,115 148,280 Free to Public
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site ALPO0279.jpg
Appalachian National Scenic Trail(Appalachian Trail) Pen Mar, PA to Delaware Water Gap 1,586 N/A Free to Public
SK- Trails (6235713256).jpg
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network Towanda, PA to

York, PA

9,577 4,925,582 Free to Public
Chesapeake Bay Bridge.jpg
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area 9,832 4,314,085 Cars: $7.00

Bikes: $1.00


Delaware Water Gap from I 80.jpg
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site Philadelphia, PA 397 13,128 Free to Public
Edgar Allan Poe - Daguerreotype portrait mirrored.jpg
Eisenhower National Historic Site Gettysburg, PA 1,123 54,668 Kids: $5.00 Adults: $7.50
Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg.JPG
First State National Historical Park Chaddsford, PA 717 N/A Free to Public
Woodlawn Tract, Wilmington, DE.jpg
Flight 93 National Memorial Schanksville, PA 1,588 262,441 Free to Public
Flight 93 memorial plaza PA3.jpg
Fort Necessity National Battlefield Farmington, PA 1,615 199,837 Free to Public
Fort Necessity National Battlefield FTNE1822.jpg
Friendship Hill National Historic Site Point Marion, PA 579 32,864 Free to Public
Friendship Hill National Historic Site - Point Marion, Pennsylvania (8481244921).jpg
Gettysburg National Military Park Gettysburg, PA 7,004 1,003,581 Free to Public
Gettysburg National Military Park 61.JPG
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site Elverson, PA 1,437 44,929 Free to Public
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site - Pennsylvania (5655062021).jpg
Independence National Historical Park Philadelphia, PA 23, 876 3,552,672 Free to Public
2012-07 Independence National Historical Park 10.JPG
Johnstown Flood National Memorial South Fork, PA 821 139,603 Free to Public
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Dunbar, PA 406 N/A Free to Public
Potomac Heritage NST (9512830176).jpg
Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton, PA 5,709 81,802 Entrance Fee: $7.00

Train Ride:$5.00

Steamtown National Historic Site.jpg
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial Philadelphia, PA 166 1,608 Free to Public
Independence National Historical Park Kosciuszko National Memorial.jpg
Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Pike and Wayne, PA N/A 228,284 Free to Public
Delaware and Hudson Canal, Delaware Aqueduct, Spanning Delaware River, Lackawaxen, Pike County, PA HAER PA,52-LACK,1-5.tif
Valley Forge National Historic Park Valley Forge, PA 6,396 1,897,029 Free to Public
Valley Forge gunner.jpg

Since the affiliated and parks managed by the National Park Service do not have use the National Park Service's budget therefore they were not reported in the budget justification of the 2017 fiscal year. Hence, we do not have their operation costs, but we do still have the yearly personal costs.

Affiliated or Managed by National Park Service within PA Location in PA Yearly Personal Costs
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Lancaster, PA Free to Public
Captain John Smith Statue, Historic Jamestowne, Colonial National Historical Park, Jamestown, Virginia (14239039490).jpg
Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Easton, PA Free to Public
1875 - Allentown Lehigh River Port.jpg
Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site Philadelphia, PA Free to Public
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site GLDE5015.jpg
Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River Philadelphia, PA Free to Public
North Country National Scenic Trail Baker, PA Free to Public
North Country National Scenic Trail.jpg
Oil Region National Heritage Area Oil City, PA Free to Public
Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area Homestead, PA Free to Members

$1 for Kids

$3 for Adults

Schuylkill River Valley Pottstown, PA Free to Public
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Philadelphia, PA Free to Public
Rochambeau Route, Manship Rd, Canterbury, CT.JPG sandbox

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