WILCOX — Just weeks after a series of public meetings to discuss why there would be no camping at Twin Lakes in 2018, a citizen group is forming to help the park.

Laura Funaki, of St. Marys, said at the first group meeting of “Friends of Twin Lakes ANF” there were over 30 people in attendance and they had also received feedback from park goers as far as Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

In a series of public meetings earlier this month, the Allegheny National Forest announced it will change operations at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area for the 2018 season, allowing day use operations but not camping in 2018.

The largest reason for no camping in 2018 is that the ANF doesn’t have funding to address issues with the wastewater treatment system that led to the early closure of the site in September 2017, as well as other issues with facilities that support camping.

While officials have repeatedly said the change is not a decision to close Twin Lakes, Funaki said it remains a concern of all those who use the park.

Funaki said a big goal of Friends of Twin Lakes ANF is to get the park, which was built by an African American team of Civilian Conversvation Corps workers in the 1930s, on the National Historic Register.

It is also hoping to get into the park and maintain the campgrounds which have been closed for nearly a year with the goal of fundraising and helping with the work needed to reopen them.

She added the group isn’t about “what if’s” and finger pointing, rather about finding solutions to the problems that currently exist there.

“I’ve been going to Twin Lakes for 46 years. I’ve seen the downward trend. I’ve raised five kids there. It offers something different,” said Funaki. “It’s a little gem that needs to be kept and it matters.”

The next meeting of the group will be held at 6 p.m. March 5 at the Jones Township Community Building.

As it is currently in the process of forming a governing board, if anyone is interested in submitting a letter of interest with a short biography they can feel free to send it to Funaki at iguanagirl039@gmail.com or bring it to the meeting.

“We want everyone. We need the community because we need to prove to the ANF that Twin Lakes matters,” Funaki said.

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