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Nicholas Sulzer of Vosburg Neck State Park -- Why NEPA? image
Why NEPA
January 31, 2023
Nicholas Sulzer of Vosburg Neck State Park -- Why NEPA?
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“What really drew me to being a park manager is being able to work in state parks and preserve them…so that future generations are going to be able to utilize them and enjoy them like I did growing up.”

Young Nicholas Sulzer couldn’t possibly have imagined his childhood passion for the outdoors would turn into a career. The kid who whiled away every free moment with a fishing rod in hand or on the hunt for his next catch – and spent each summer camping under the stars in state parks with his family – has officially turned his hobby into his life’s work.

Sulzer grew up in farm country in Lehighton, Carbon County, with Beltzville State Park practically in his backyard. If he wasn’t on the water, he was hunting and exploring nature. He was also a three-sport scholar athlete through high school. As farm towns go, you could find him Friday nights in the fall under the lights, in the winter on the mat, and come spring, on the baseball diamond.

College took him to Misericordia University in Dallas where he majored in biology and minored in chemistry. And from there, he returned to the place he loved most – state parks. His roles as Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Ranger, park manager trainee, and finally, park manager, took him to Tobyhanna State Park, Hickory Run State Park, and Tuscarora and Locust Lake State Parks, regionally.

He’s been named Park Manager of the Vosburg Neck State Park, the first of its kind in Wyoming County. He’ll oversee the transition from the former Howland Preserve into the newest Pennsylvania state park. And that’s where we met to talk about his passion for conservation and why NEPA is such a great place to live.

 

How long have you lived in NEPA?

Pretty much my whole life (32 years) other than my 2-3 years out in western PA training.

What do you love about your town?

Lehighton was your small farm town. Sports were a big thing in high school. Friday night football games were one of the biggest things to do in the area. So, playing football was a huge part of my life growing up. Beltzville State Park is right there. I lived about three miles from Beltzville so I spent a lot of my free time fishing and just hanging out at Beltzville. We hunted the area. Summer nights, night fishing at Beltzville for stripers and catfish were some of my favorite times in high school. I was an outdoorsman. I was a real country boy. Just running around the area and having a good time.

What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?

I revisited J & J Deli in Dallas last week. That was one of my college haunts. It’s much different now than it was back then. It was a little hole-in-the-wall, like, great deli type thing. It’s much more of a restaurant and bar scene now but the food was still amazing. It was good reminiscing.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?

Hunting and fishing have always been one of the biggest parts of my life. I love it, whether it’s sitting on the side of a lake, knee deep in a stream fly fishing or out deer hunting or small game hunting. Those are my favorite activities.

What’s next for you?

Moving here (to Vosburg Neck State Park) and really getting this park up and running. This is the first park in Wyoming County, so this is going to be a big deal to the community. It’s definitely going to bolster the community. It’s going to bring some notoriety and tourism. People are going to be coming into this area to see what this new park has to offer. It’s inevitably going to bring people to restaurants and businesses in the area.

I probably see myself here for the foreseeable future. But I always said, oh, I’ll be at Tuscarora for 10-15 years. I truly believed it. Two years later and here I am.  But I always said, the right opportunity has to come along, and that’s really what I see here. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be here and if the right opportunity comes along, it’s my time to leave, then the cards are on the table. That will be when I decide to go.

Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?

The focus (for me) is on natural resources and protecting lands. This is a huge step in this area – preserving lands and making sure they are there for future generations. Wyoming County didn’t really have any type of state park or large land masses open to the public like this. So, this is a great sign of things to come and focusing on finding these parcels of land we can preserve for the future.

Why NEPA?

You know, Pennsylvania is great. You get your four seasons. Some people say there’s more than four seasons. You get your first winter, second winter, third winter. Construction season (laughs). But just the varieties are amazing. This climate has been home to me. It’s what I know. I did move out to western PA and I got a bit of that culture, but I’m really drawn back to this area. There’s a variety of things, whether you’re in the Poconos, the Endless Mountains, the Back Mountain region, even down into coal country and the Lehigh Valley, there’s a variety of different cultures and different things that come together to make this area what it is. You know, it’s aways been home to me and I love it for that.

BONUS: What’s your favorite State Park?

I get asked this a lot. Choosing a favorite park is really difficult for me just because every park is a little bit different. There’s a handful that stand out to me. Growing up at Beltzville, that has always been one of my favorites. Pohopoco Creek has always been a great fishery. And then the parks I’ve managed. The complex at Hickory Run is an incredible natural resource. The Lehigh Gorge and 30 miles of the Lehigh River. White water rafting. The D&L bike trail that goes through there. Boulder Field at Hickory Run. Amazing natural resources. And just the size of the complex.

Tuscarora and Locust Lake, I’m very sad to be leaving those parks because I loved managing them. Kind of a hidden gem of Schuylkill County. The Locust Lake campground there is just a beloved campground. When I’d walk through the camp ground, you’d get people saying, my family has been camping here for 20, 30, 40 years. It’s just a great community there. And now up here, I’m excited to learn much more of the area. I’m excited to get out on the river and start fishing that. And hunting the area. My favorite places have definitely been where I’ve managed and where I’ve lived.