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When Salisbury, Penn., officials decided to look at ways to fight back against the individuals who were strewing trash, tearing up the landscape with ATVs and hunting illegally with firearms in the semi-remote, 500-acre Riverside Park, Township Commissioner Joe Emrick came to the rescue.

Emrick, a lifelong outdoorsman, pioneered a plan to get more people to use the park in an effort to discourage others from abusing it. The result of his labor is a new juniors’ firearms hunting area–perhaps the first of its kind–open only to young sportsmen aged 12 to 16 and the parents or other adult mentors who join them in the woods.

In fall 2003, about 450 acres of the park, which is owned by the township, the City of Allentown and Lehigh County, were opened under the new program. What makes the story even more interesting is the fact that Riverside is located in an urban area, giving access to more than a half million people who are only a short drive away.

To get the program started, Emrick spent countless hours meeting and talking with township, county and city officials. Along the way, he also gained the support of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and several state and local sportsmen’s organizations. While putting it all together took much work, it was simply the kind of effort one would expect from Emrick, a devoted father with a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing who believes strongly in the family bonds that are built and strengthened through sharing the great outdoors.–Mark Demko

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