A Good Month for Polar Bears

January is often classified as a bittersweet month. We start the New Year with fresh energy and excitement about the things we’d like to do and the places we’d like to explore. Working out and being active always seem to be popular resolutions, but you undoubtedly feel the tug of hesitation when you look at the temperature gauge outside.

This month you can do both and feel good about doing them. You’ll need to visit Lancaster County Central Park on January 14. That’s when the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group will be hosting its 7th Annual Polar Bear 5K. The park, which is tucked away in our backyard, can be a great outdoor escape any time of year. Named for it’s centralized location, the park covers a massive, mostly wooded 544 acres bordering on the southeast edge of Lancaster City.

In winter, there is a calm and soothing feeling in the air. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and listen as Mill Creek rolls over the rocks in the creek bed. As the temperatures dip and thin layers of ice form on its banks, a thin dusting of snow is all it takes to turn the area near the Kurtz Mill Covered Bridge into a winter wonderland.

That serene landscape, combined with a wonderful community of nature lovers, also makes this the perfect location for the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group’s annual 5K. Runners, joggers, walkers and leashed canines alike will brave the chilly temperatures to help raise funds and awareness for the Sierra Club’s goal: “Enjoy, explore, and protect the planet.”
The 5K (3.1-mile) course twists and turns across multiple trails in the Kiwanis Natural Area. Prizes will be awarded to the top three overall runners, top two runners in each age category, and the first three runners to cross the finish line with their pets.

Kurtz Mill Covered Bridge

Kurtz Mill Covered Bridge

This 5K is a wide-ranging community effort that includes members of the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group, volunteers, the Lancaster County Parks Department, the Lancaster Road Runners Club and numerous sponsors. The best part is that proceeds from the event will be used to help support the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group’s Green Grant Program.

The formation of the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group was authorized in 2008. Due to the growing population and preservation challenges and opportunities in our area, the Lancaster Group is the first in the Pennsylvania Chapter whose jurisdiction is specific to one county. Such a designation provides the Lancaster Group with a unique opportunity to focus its efforts right here in our own backyard.

Sierra Club-Lancaster Group’s Grant Program awards grants to charitable, business and educational organizations whose projects promote sustainability, expand environmental awareness and improve green infrastructure in the county. To date, the group has awarded grants for up to $500 to 14 local organizations. In addition to the Polar Bear 5K and the Grants Program, the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group offers a variety of activities each month that range from workshops to outings that are open to the public and focus on educating participants about environmental and conservation issues relevant to our area.

For more details on the Sierra Club-Lancaster Group and the Polar Bear 5K, visit lancastersierraclub.org.

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