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Western Pennsylvania resident Robert Hilliard is in love with the landâ€”so much so that heâ€™s written a book about it. The author recently released â€śA Season on the Allegheny,â€ť a tale about the year he spent hunting and exploring on the Allegheny National Forest, and will be holding a book signing this Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Forest County Visitor Center, 422 Elm Street, Tionesta, PA 16353. The book is also available on Amazon in paperback or in Amazon Kindle format.
Hilliard has been writing about topics such as sports, history, and the outdoorsÂ for almost 20 years. He formerly wrote for the "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was a contributing editor with Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine, has written features for regional and national magazines, and was a contributing author for the 2000 book "Rivers of Destiny."Â The idea for his new project came to him about six years ago when he was writing for "Ohio Valley Outdoors."
"I was doing a lot of writing, I had a regular outdoor column and [while I was] kind of in the process of brainstorming column ideas, I said, 'The National Forest is something I haven't hit on yet,'" Hilliard said.
He said he started thinking about what type of subject matter he could write about and came up with doing something with his experience on the ANF.
"I thought, 'You know, there's enough here to actually write a whole book,'" he said.
The Beaver County resident grew up in Butler County, and has always enjoyed outdoor pastimes and exploring rural areas, whether in his previous work as a biologist or in his leisure time. He is also no stranger to Elk County, having visited the area a number of times. Professionally, he has been involved with several well-known initiatives.
â€śIn addition to working on the book, I worked for several years on projects up there -- PA Wilds, Lumber Heritage Region-- I worked with both of those projects when they were getting off the ground,â€ť Hilliard said. "Spent lots and lots of time in Ridgway-- great place,â€ť adding that he interviewed Elk County Commissioner Daniel R. Freeburg for the book; the two have known each other for years due to working on projects together.
On a personal level, Hilliard said he just likes to be out enjoying nature.
â€śI love to hunt. I like to fish, but I don't usually catch anything,â€ť Hilliard said. â€śMy whole familyâ€”my wife and kids -- we enjoy canoeing, camping-- pretty much anything that could be done in the woods."
It is that love of the woods that led Hilliard to his lengthy exploration of the ANF and the penning of his book, which looks at the history and culture of the ANF and the positive impact hunter conservation groups like the Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation have had in preserving and improving this forestland. He also discusses the history that led to the creation of national forests.