Penn Nursery renamed to honor Mira Lloyd Dock

SPRING MILLS — Penn Nursery and Wood Shop recently was renamed the Mira Lloyd Dock Resource Conservation Center in honor of the late woman environmentalist, botanist and civic activist who championed reforestation and anti-pollution measures.

State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn joined Bureau of Forestry officials and others in renaming the bureau’s center.

“How appropriate that a woman who rallied against pollution and environmental degradation should be honored at a DCNR facility aiding in reforestation efforts across the commonwealth, and helping the public better enjoy the wealth of natural resources and natural beauty in our state parks and state forests,” Dunn said, addressing DCNR employees and guests drawn from conservation and environmental groups across the state.

DCNR hosted a celebration and renaming ceremony on the nursery and wood shop grounds, off Route 322.

Named after William Penn, the nursery traces its origin back to 1908 and a potato patch on the property of a late forest ranger. It began as a source of seedlings needed to replant land denuded by timbering and subsequent forest fires that scoured Penn’s Woods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“One has to wonder how Mira Lloyd Dock would react to how what once was a potato patch now aids in reforestation efforts across the state,” Dunn told the gathering. “This nursery now helps bring shade, watershed protection and increased enjoyment to state park and forest visitors across Pennsylvania. What a fitting legacy for a woman who fought against pollution; and for reforestation.”

Noting the role of the DCNR woodshop on the property — supplying picnic tables, signs and other items to state parks and forests — Dunn displayed a new Mira Lloyd Dock Resource Conservation Center seal that will be affixed to some of these products in the future.

“Picnickers at nearby Poe Paddy State Park, for instance, will know of the woman and what she fought for, when they sit down at a new park picnic table,” Dunn said. “This seal should be a source of pride for all the committed, professional and highly skilled women working within our bureaus at DCNR.”

Echoing Dunn’s sentiments was State Forester Dan Devlin, who as Bureau of Forestry director oversees nursery and wood shop operations:

“Mira Lloyd Dock was a visionary and passionate conservationist whose legacy is felt still today. Naming this center in her honor is a tribute to her great work and forward thinking.”

Guest speaker Marci Mowery, president of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, said:

“Mira Lloyd Dock made an incredible contribution to conservation in Pennsylvania and broke glass ceilings for women, yet her story was almost forgotten. We applaud DCNR’s initiative to rename the nursery and to reconnect Pennsylvanians to their history and to the legacy of our incredible forest system.”

In the early 1900s, Dock teamed up with a Harrisburg businessman and civic reformer to target pollution in the Harrisburg area and support improved water and sewage facilities, 900 acres of new city parks, public lakes, athletic fields, playgrounds.

As president of the American Civic Association, Dock became a national leader in the City Beautiful movement that revitalized American cities, including Philadelphia

The first woman appointed to a Pennsylvania state government position, Dock lectured on botany at the newly opened State Forestry Academy at Mont Alto, a school she had helped found by lobbying for its creation. She would continue to teach there until 1929, using her own textbook, which described all the trees that grew in the state and where they flourished the best.

After stepping down from the Forest Commission in 1912, Dock was active in a broad range of causes, including the movement, which she lead, to preserve Niagara Falls, and the local campaign for women’s suffrage.

The nursery’s goal is to propagate the finest tree/shrub seedlings available for reforestation and wildlife enhancement projects on state properties. Nursery and forest district staff coordinate the selection, harvesting and collection of millions of tree/shrub seeds from state forest trees and orchards across the state to preserve and maintain genetic diversity.

Over the years, the nursery’s operations have expanded to include state of the art sign and picnic table operations.