The island hosts a unique floodplain hardwood forest which provides habitat for a distinctive flora, including several species the WPMC has found nowhere else, such as Calvatia rugosa, a golden yellow puffball. So far, the survey has identified about 75 species on the island, but we still add new species on every walk due to small variations in season and fruiting conditions. The real species count is likely much higher.
The children spend time at Conklin Run to learn about how insect diversity and abundance, temperature, and clarity can be used to determine stream health. We also spread out large tarps when we do arts and crafts with natural items like fallen leaves and twigs.
Places like Silver Lake Preserve are incredibly important, not just for the environmental ethics of protecting such habitats for the animals, but because we are part of nature and we have become increasingly estranged from it in today’s modern society. People of all ages need to have a place to come back home to, a place to find peace and see the beauty and magic of our natural world.
There are a variety of animals and birds that make this area their home. While hiking through a hemlock stands one snowy afternoon we had the privilege of seeing a tiny saw-whet owl who was perched on a hemlock branch just a few feet above our heads. Each outing gives us a new opportunity to see the natural beauty that this land offers.
When the Nature Conservancy first became involved with protecting this unique Bog in the 1950s, I don’t think they ever imagined the impact it would have. Not only are the Bog’s natural features protected, but there are over 1,000 acres in the preserve and two miles of hiking trails. Most importantly, the Bog has become an invaluable educational tool. Since the early 1980s when the first section of boardwalk was completed, countless groups have visited the Bog.
Spring Creek runs clear and cold, and is fed, as its name indicates, by the many springs along its course. The trail is a walker’s delight. Each meander of the stream is an invitation to new discoveries. The riparian environment is perfect for turtles, and the numerous insects the wary trout depend upon. A wide variety of trees, bushes, ferns, and wildflowers adds additional interest. The path, much of which follows Fish Commission access roads, makes for easy, pleasant walking.
So today, 11 years after Erie Bluffs became a state park, I’m reminded often that our efforts were well worth it. We see more and more activity as people find out about the park, and the most common question is “what is DCNR going to do with the park?” My answer is usually “nothing,” and it usually is well-received. It seems most people are fine with no formal trails, signage, or pavilions. They enjoy the natural surroundings and the freedom to explore and take in nature as it should be.
One was the 5.6-acre Drexeline Property. A developer was looking to squeeze four homes onto this property and UPOS was very concerned, since the creek overflows during heavy rain. With the help of a Keystone Fund grant, the township was able to work out an agreement with the owners. Generations to come will be able to enjoy nature along Ridley Creek.
I have been working with both undergraduate and graduate Duquesne University students at Wingfield Pines for 10 years. This on-site experience provides benefits for the students that can’t be replicated in a classroom setting: the spontaneity of an evolving ecosystem, of never knowing what might happen while walking from pond to pond. It’s a true example of the problem-solving style in science education.
The Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain attracts a variety of users, including bird watchers, hikers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts who relish the preserve’s many miles of trails. The Nature Conservancy works with a variety of partners to instill in visitors a sense of ownership and responsibility while ensuring compatible recreational uses for the land.
The Center is a pioneer in connecting children to the outdoors. It offers public programs for all ages, engages schools in diverse nature education, and runs a popular summer camp. In the fall of 2013, the Center opened the Schuylkill Center Nature Preschool, Pennsylvania’s first nature-based preschool, immersing toddlers in nature and the outdoors.
For three decades, Montgomery County Parks and Heritage Services had ranked the 78-acre property as a high priority for land conservation. The property contains prime agricultural soils, wildlife-rich woodland habitat, and the confluence of Montgomery County’s only two high-quality streams, Unami Creek and Ridge Valley Creek.
Not long ago, the neglected 80-acre property at Wingfield Pines offered nothing to the community except the thousands of gallons of abandoned mine drainage (AMD) it poured into Chartiers Creek every day. The land had been strip mined in the 1940s, and was later home to a failed golf and swim club. However, Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) saw potential in the site and took steps to acquire the land.
Standing on the white rocky cliffs along the Appalachian Trail, one is rewarded for the uphill hike with a breathtaking panoramic view of farms and forest. Once threatened by development, 850 acres of forested ridgeline are now permanently protected. Their preservation safeguards an unbroken forest habitat, amazing geological formations, and a place to take in stunning views.
Fortunately, ClearWater Conservancy worked with numerous partners and received a Keystone Fund grant to fund the acquisition of the land. In preserving Musser Gap, ClearWater not only protected an important habitat for golden eagles and other wildlife, but also helped to safeguard the drinking water for more than 40,000 residents in the State College region.
But spring isn’t the only time to enjoy the area. The wilderness delights visitors year-round who come to hike, boat, fish, and view wildlife. Hiking trails lead visitors though the largest forest corridor in central and eastern Pennsylvania, offering spectacular views of the Minsi Valley and glimpses of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and more.
Long Swamp, a relic of the last ice age, is now a permanently protected haven that provides a unique outdoor experience for children from all around the world. 15,000 years ago Pennsylvania was covered in glaciers. As the climate warmed and the glaciers receded, massive melting formed a boreal bog. Over time this bog became […]
Once a prison camp during the Revolutionary War, Camp Security is now an oasis of natural beauty located in the rapidly developing landscape around the city of York.
The Minersville Pool has been an important piece of the Minersville community since 1952, but the continuous repairs became to costly for the community and it was shut down. A group of citizens from Minersville and surrounding communities banded together to save this community gem. With a Keystone grant, they rebuilt the pool, which eliminated the safety and ADA issues that existed with the old facility. In its inaugural season, the new Minersville Community Pool broke attendance records.
In an area with limited protected open space, Dead Man’s Hollow Wildlife Preserve is 400 acres of peace and quiet. Once immersed in the wooded stream valley, the nearby factories, strip malls, and traffic seem to be a world away. The work done on the preserve, including constructing two-and-half miles of trails and clearing out twenty tons of old tires and trash, was accomplished with the help of U.S. Steel workers and local supporters.