DCNR Bureau of Recreation & Conservation Reorganization

Bureau reorganization focuses on public needs, program areas

As DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation girds for a new round of annual grant applications, it’s doing so with a new lineup of staffing positions and duties that best meets the ever-changing needs of the public, its director says.

“The new organization will provide our grantees and the public with improved customer service,” said Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Director Lauren S. Imgrund. “It modernizes our structure and places staff resources in the program areas most important to the public: community parks, trails, land conservation and partnerships.”

“The bureau restructuring also provides improved points of contact and service for small communities, trail organizations and rivers. In addition, it directs resources to help communities with the process required for park and protected land conversions, and provides additional focus to DCNR’s federal funding, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Federal Recreational Trails Program.”

Imgrund said the bureau embarked on its recent reorganization with an eye to streamlining data reporting; emphasizing staff-level program management and policy development; improving career mobility within the bureau; and focusing on staff core-program responsibilities.

“The newly established series of responsibilities and titles more accurately affect the bureau’s work,” Imgrund said.

Why now?

“With any organization, it is important to periodically re-evaluate staff responsibilities and program areas,” the director said. “This assures that the organization is focusing its limited resources on the current public needs and program areas, and the public should appreciate desired effects, including staffing numbers and specialties.”

The director said the new organization focuses the bureau’s Central Office staff in the following program areas:

Community Parks and Recreation Section, with six staff members, will help communities plan and develop parks and natural areas;

Land Conservation and Stewardship Section, with three staff members, helps communities and land trusts conserve land, and assures projects DCNR invests in are not converted to non-recreation uses;

Trails, Greenways, and Statewide Planning, with three staff members, helps communities acquire, plan and develop trails and greenways and leads statewide planning efforts;

Landscape Partnerships and Educational Services, with four staff members, leads landscape partnerships, rivers and educational programs, and manages the Heritage Areas Program.

Imgrund noted as part of each of the above sections, one section chief and one program specialist have been assigned. They are: Community Parks and Recreation Section Chief Cindy Dunlap and Small Communities Program Specialist Beth Helterbran; Land Conservation and Stewardship Section Chief Ashley Rebert and Land Stewardship and Conversion Program Specialist Alex Tatanish; Trails, Greenways, and Statewide Planning Section Chief Alex Macdonald and Trails and Greenways Program Specialist Mark Hansford; and Landscape Partnerships and Educational Services Section Chief Mike Piaskowski and Rivers Conservation and Scenic Rivers Program Specialist Kelly Rossiter.

 

WREN Announces 2015 Source Water Protection Collaborative Grants

The Water Resources Education Network (WREN), a project of the League of Women Voters of PA Citizen Education Fund, is pleased to announce the availability of 2015 Source Water Protection Collaborative Grants. WREN hopes to inspire local leaders, communities and water systems to join together, and use common sense prevention measures and education as a powerful new approach to reduce threats to community drinking water.  Now is the time to gather your team, line-up local partners or county officials and join the cause  – create a great project with the support of a WREN grant.
Applications will be due March 20, 2015. Details, grant information and application forms are available at the WREN Source Water Protection Grants page: http://www.waterwisepa.org/grants/our-grants/source-water-protection-grants  Funded project activities are to take place July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016.

Tagged hawks move about Central and South America

Four broad-winged hawks tagged by scientists at Hawk Mountain and near its world-famous Sanctuary have been tracked more than 4,000 miles to Central and South America, and one is currently moving about central Brazil.

“We’re not sure if this is the beginning of a return migration or if she is just wandering, but we look forward to watching her journey and hope to see her return to Pennsylvania this spring,” says Dr. Laurie Goodrich who oversees the field research.

Last summer biologists tagged three juveniles and one adult broad-winged hawk during the pilot year of research. Telemetry signals stopped on one juvenile during September, but the other two juveniles born on Hawk Mountain migrated to southern Mexico and Panama. The two were last heard from in November, while “Abbo,” the adult, continues to make sporadic appearances on the radar each time she moves her location. Goodrich explains that the lack of a signal from the other birds is likely because the birds are in large tracts of thick, unbroken forest where the solar-powered transmitters don’t receive enough sunlight to recharge.

“We hope to hear from them again in spring when the birds start soaring, and eventually begin to migrate north,” says Goodrich, “but Abbo is checking in with us regularly.”

“Abbo” raised three young from a nest in New Ringgold, and was trapped by the team using mist netting. She was named by a donor who sponsored her telemetry unit at a cost of $5,000. After Abbo and her mate raised their young, she set off on her migration, traveling south through Central America to central Brazil. Here she was located south of the Amazon near a national park in late December, but in January, she began another movement back towards Peru. She now is in the great forested area of central Brazil in the state of Amazonas.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary launched the study of this iconic Pennsylvania raptor last year with support from the Kittatinny Coalition, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and several generous private donors, with the goal to learn more about the broadwing and its impressive long-distance migration as well as its nesting ecology. Each September large flocks of the small, soaring hawks gather in swirling “kettles” as they take advantage of energy-saving thermals, or rising columns of warm air. The broadwings follow the Appalachians south and build in numbers before funneling through Central America where nearly the entire world’s population will pass within a two-week timeframe. In April they return to Pennsylvania forests to raise their young and begin the cycle anew.

“Many birdwatchers make a special visit to Hawk Mountain in mid-September in hopes of seeing broadwings on the move,” says Goodrich. “If your timing is right, it’s an amazing sight to see.

The goal of the study is to use the popularity of this migration and the power of satellite telemetry to learn more about the conservation threats and habitat needs of this species year-round, and to track their movements from Pennsylvania nest sites to Central and South America in the fall, and back to Pennsylvania in the spring, and for up to two years. Findings will guide conservation efforts.

This summer, Hawk Mountain plans to tag up to eight more broadwings from nests along the Kittatinny Ridge and in the Delaware Water Gap area. To follow the work, visit www.hawkmountain.org/Broadwing to link to a dedicated Facebook page, blog and to learn more. Scientists also are in need of volunteers with a strong interest in bird watching to report any sightings of broadwing nests during May and June and donations of $100 to $5000 are needed to support field work, nest finding and telemetry, $5000 donors have the right to name a tagged bird. To learn more, please contact Dr. Goodrich atGoodrich@hawkmountain.org.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation. It’s 2,500-acre Sanctuary is open to the public year-round, and funds from membership dues and trail admission directly supports its local-to-global research, training and education programs. To learn more, visit www.hawkmountain.org.

ClearWater Conservancy accepting applications for outdoor education grants until February 20

Educators at schools throughout Centre County can now apply for a grant that will provide a day of outdoor education for students in preschool through 7th grade in spring 2015.

Since 1997, ClearWater Conservancy’s Connection Project has funded trips to Millbrook Marsh Nature Center for students in schools throughout Centre County to provide watershed education in an outdoor setting. By reaching out to younger generations, ClearWater Conservancy hopes to teach children about the natural world, encourage them to take actions for conservation and inspire them to share what they learn with parents and friends.

With school budgets tight across the Commonwealth, this project provides children with a valuable outdoor educational experience they would not otherwise enjoy. Teachers can apply for grant funding and once approved, they will be able to schedule a field trip with the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. Eligible expenses include Millbrook Marsh Nature Center program fees and transportation costs. The simple two-page application and a post-field trip feedback form are available on ClearWater’s website. Grant recipients will be announced as soon as possible after the application deadline.

The Connections project is targeted to the five Centre County school districts–Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, Philipsburg, and State College–as well as charter and private schools in Centre County. However, schools beyond Centre County may also apply for funding.

So far, ClearWater has raised the funds to send over 19,200 local students to Millbrook Marsh Nature Center for hands-on environmental education.

“Learning in an outdoor environment is great, and the students engaged with the teachers enthusiastically,” said Anne Houck, a teacher at Mountaintop Elementary School, Snow Shoe, after her class took part in Connections. “The nature walk through the marsh was filled with interesting facts, and the students especially enjoyed examining the living things that came from the stream.”

Applications will be accepted until February 20.

To apply or donate for this year’s trips, please contact Sarah Edge at sarah@clearwaterconservancy.org or visit www.clearwaterconservancy.org and navigate to Outreach.

Naturalist Training Program Seeks Participants in the Philadelphia area

In the Spring of 2015, the volunteer training program of Pennsylvania Master Naturalist is partnering with Friends of the Wissahickon to prepare citizens to become volunteer leaders in their communities through natural resource conservation education, citizen science, and stewardship. Pennsylvania Master Naturalist is a citizen volunteer initiative with three key components: an initial 55-hour volunteer training, annual volunteer service, and continuing education in the natural sciences.

Building Volunteer Leadership for Community-based Conservation

Master Naturalist volunteers design and pursue a wide variety of service projects from habitat restoration and native plantings, to nature walks and interpretative displays or publications on natural history, to water quality monitoring and supporting the natural resource conservation efforts of partnering organizations. Since 2010, Pennsylvania Master Naturalist volunteers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have:

  • engaged in more than 6,300 hours of conservation service
  • contributed $140,700 in conservation value and impact to numerous regional partners
  • reached over 9,000 people through education and outreach initiatives
  • improved 330 acres of habitat through stewardship service
  • dedicated themselves to 2,300 hours of continuing education in the natural sciences

Seeking New Applicants for Spring 2015

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist natural history training includes 55 hours of classroom (weekday evenings) and field (Saturday) sessions and will be coordinated by the Friends of the Wissahickon in the spring of 2015.

The training will begin on April 6, 2015 and end on May 28, 2015. Classroom sessions will take place on most Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:30pm at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Field trips are scheduled on four Saturdays (4/11/15, 4/25/15, 5/9/15, 5/16/15) beginning at 9:00am and continuing through most of the day.

Individuals interested in the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program in Philadelphia are invited to apply by February 17, 2015. Applications can be found on Pennsylvania Master Naturalist’s website at www.pamasternaturalist.org under “Become a Master Naturalist” and “2015 Training”.

Contact:          Andrea Stevens, Program Coordinator

progcoord@pamasternaturalist.org

(570) 764-7628

 

Allegheny Land Trust Closes on Fifth Property of the Year

On December 31, 2014, Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) closed on the 8.5-acre Fairhill Recreation Association project in Sewickley, making 2014 the first year in the organization’s 20-year history to acquire five properties in one calendar year.

ALT acquired 76 acres in 2014, and brought the organizations total protected green space to over 1,700 acres in Allegheny and Washington Counties. The land value of the 76 acres totaled about $1.4 million, of which $430,000 came from land donations.

“2014 was a banner year for us. We would not have been successful without the excellent collaboration with our volunteers, funders and partners,” ALT President & CEO Chris Beichner said. “I’m proud of the work our Board and staff has put in to advance our goals and to create beautiful, natural preserves for wildlife habitat, water management and passive recreational opportunities.”

Other green space protected by the land trust in 2014 includes a 9-acre parcel in Sewickley Borough, which protects an important headwater area; an 8.5-acre parcel in Richland Township; a strategic 2-acre parcel in Elizabeth Borough providing trail head access and road frontage for the Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area; and a 48-acre parcel in Sewickley Hills that expanded the Audubon Greenway Conservation Area linking Sewickley Hills Park to Sewickley Heights Park.

Though the land trust said they don’t expect to close on as many properties again in 2015, they have already made significant progress on two Sewickley-based projects that exceed the 2014 total protected acreage. One parcel includes 58-acres in Sewickley Heights Borough that would ultimately expand and become part of the borough’s park, and the other is a 30-acre parcel offered by Sewickley Borough that ALT was the successful bidder on.

Landowner preserves farm in tribute to departed husband

???????????????????????????????Jeff and Beulah Hartlaub met when they were 16 and married right out of high school. They raised their three daughters, Sherry, Angie, and Amanda, in a home outside Littlestown; and with his father, John, Jeff ran Hartlaub and Sons Auto Parts. For years Jeff and Beulah had their eyes on a beautiful piece of farmland right up the road from their house that was owned by B. Guy and Mary Smith, and they dreamed of one day owning it themselves. After the Smiths passed away and the land went up for auction in 2001, the Hartlaubs knew this was their chance. “I didn’t go to the auction because I was too nervous,” Beulah said, thinking back. Later that afternoon Jeff came home with a smile on his face—the farm was theirs.

The Hartlaubs set to work renovating the old farmhouse and moved there in August 2002. An old Pennsylvania bank barn stands on the historic property as well, along with several outbuildings, which the couple refurbished so that Jeff could store his antique car collection there.

Sadly, Jeff Hartlaub died suddenly in December 2006, leaving Beulah to care for their farm on her own. “He only got to live here five years,” she said. “But I decided to stay here and live on the farm. Our daughters have fond memories of visiting here when the Smiths owned it when they were growing up. They would often come here on errands to buy fruit and meat from the farm.” The couple’s daughters, now grown and married, live not far away, and Beulah’s four grandchildren today enjoy coming to the farm to help her in the garden and to see the deer and other wildlife.

On December 11 this year, Beulah Hartlaub completed a conservation easement on nearly 56 acres of her land, preserving the property as beautifully rolling farmland in perpetuity. A conservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement attached to the property title, specifies the kind and amount of development the landowner wants to allow on the property now and in the future. Beulah chose to preserve virtually her entire farm, setting aside small sections for her children and grandchildren to build on in the future, if they so choose.

“I wanted to preserve our farm because I feel it’s very important to protect as much farmland as possible—too many farms are sold to developers,” Hartlaub said. “I’m also doing this to honor my late husband, because he loved this farm as much as I do. He would always say how much he hated to see farms sold for development, and I know this is what he would want me to do.”

The Hartlaub farm straddles the Union and Mount Pleasant township line on gently rolling land. It is planted primarily in field crops, with tree lines at the property edges that serve as wildlife habitat. Beulah rents the fields to Dwayne Lawrence, a neighboring farmer—“He was farming it when we bought it, so we just stayed with him,” she said, adding that he takes good care of the land, making sure the soil stays fertile and protected from erosion. Lying in the watershed of the South Branch Conewago Creek, the Hartlaub farm is an important resource for groundwater recharge in the southeastern part of Adams County.

Hartlaub had been thinking about preserving her farm on and off for at least five years. “Then I woke up one morning and I said, ‘Okay, Beulah, you need to get this moving because time is flying by.’ I decided it was time to move ahead.”

Once she got started, Hartlaub found that preserving her land was an easy process, especially working with the Land Conservancy’s conservation coordinator, Sarah Kipp. “When I came to the Land Conservancy office and talked with Sarah, she told me everything I needed to know and I felt comfortable moving ahead,” Hartlaub said. “I wanted to be sure to get it done in my lifetime. I’m glad that I was able to see the process through. Hopefully it will motivate some of my neighbors who have farms to do this.”

Hartlaub donated her easement to the Land Conservancy, which means that she accepted no compensation for the property value she forfeited by restricting development on her land. Her easement brings the Land Conservancy’s total preserved acreage in 2014 to 1,060. Since it was founded in 1995, the Land Conservancy has worked with more than100 Adams County landowners to preserve a total of 9,303 acres in 134 conservation easements.

A member-supported, fully accredited nonprofit land trust, the Land Conservancy’s mission is to preserve Adams County’s beautiful rural lands and character by working with interested landowners to protect their property from unplanned development both today and in the future. For more information about the Land Conservancy, visit http://www.LCACnet.org, email lcac@adamscounty.us, or call (717) 334-2828.

Mid-State Trail Founder Dies

Tom Thwaites died Christmas Day.  Cause of death was likely heart failure, since he had endured arterial  fibrillation for over 30 years.

Condolence cards may be sent to his wife, Barbara, at H119 Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marilyn Ave., State College PA 16801. Barbara expects to have a memorial service for Tom in April.

Tom wore many hats. He was a professor of Physics at Penn State for many years,  author  of a series of books, including “50 Hikes in Central PA” and he was the architect of the Mid-State Trail.  The MST began in 1969 by Tom’s Penn State Outing Club and now extends from the Maryland line to the NY State line. The MST is the longest trail in Pennsylvania at over 500 Km, passing through State Game Lands,  five state forests, eight natural areas and nine state parks.

“Why do large numbers of hikers venture into the wet, wild woods with biting insects and stinging nettles, on trails lined with roots and studded with rocks? There is something different and deeply appealing about hiking in the out-of-doors. The wilder and more beautiful the land, the better the hiking. Clearly, these experiences are spiritual. It is the deep, but bright, secret of hiking. Spiritual experience is essential to our well-being, so hiking remains popular.”                                                                       — Tom Thwaites

WPC Protects Land Along French Creek

 The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has permanently protected 66 acres in Rockdale Township, Crawford County, the Conservancy announced today.

Located downstream from another WPC-protected property, this property has approximately 1,600 feet of creek frontage along French Creek, one of the most ecologically significant waterways in the northeastern United States.

“The conservation of this property will help to protect French Creek, its water quality and aquatic life, and forestland along the creek,” said Thomas Saunders, WPC president and chief executive officer.

Niknar1_zpse05ae0baThe property includes a wetland and a forested, riparian buffer along the creek. Forested riparian corridors help to regulate the temperature of streams and create conditions that contribute to improved water quality and habitat for the federally endangered and threatened freshwater mussels and numerous fish species of special conservation concern in Pennsylvania that live in the watershed.

WPC purchased the land from the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, which has owned the property since the 1950s. This property will be managed as a natural area and be open to the public for low-impact recreation, such as hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.

“The mission of the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club was to promote, foster and protect wildlife and natural resources, and encourage participation in recreational activities and sports,” said George Varzaly, president of Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, who now lives in Georgia. “Thanks to the Conservancy, we are able to uphold the original charter of the organization and keep the land natural forever.”

The acquisition was made possible through one family’s generous financial contribution in memory of their son and brother, Brad Barnes. Barnes, who lived in the area, was dedicated to conservation and to protecting endangered plants and animals. His family has conserved several ecologically significant properties in northwestern Pennsylvania with WPC in his memory. Funds from the estate of Helen B. Katz also contributed to this acquisition.

John F. Logue Conservation Easement Completed

December 16, 2014 – Another 109.5 acres in Lycoming County’s Cascade Township were conserved through the on-going support of our members and the generous donation by landowners Genevieve Neff Logue and Matthew and Kimberly (Logue) Smargiasso.

For decades, the Logues drove from their home in northwest Pennsylvania to Williamsport for family visits. During those visits, Genevieve and her late husband, John “Jack” F. Logue, Jr. – Williamsport natives – and their son Kevin, daughter Kim and son-in-law Matt, would sometimes head north to hike the former Charles and Catherine (McCrystal) Logue property. Jack provided the commentary about Cascade Twp. and childhood visits to this place—his grandparents’ farm.

Locating the homestead’s small stone foundation and a nearby spring, spotting the apple tree and lilac, admiring broad stone walls crafted by Irish Catholic hands, appreciating the wetlands, and taking in the long view at the top of Frymire Road were all part of the outings.

This lOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand is where Jack’s father John F. Logue, Sr., his uncle Vincent Logue, and a special aunt Katherine Logue Kilby grew up. Cascade Twp. was a place where Jack’s extended family lived and gathered. It was a magical place for him, an only child who lived a long 25 miles away in the city of Williamsport. It was open space to ramble, observe, think, and daydream. It fed the soul and shaped the man.

It turned out he wasn’t the only one who loved that land. It has remained in the family as one contiguous tract thanks to his aunt Katherine first and then to Jack and Genevieve. Katherine and Jack seemed to share an unspoken “leave the surface alone” philosophy.

Legacy. That’s what prompted Kim and Matt to travel from Mercer County to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) office to ask about conservation easements. Their first exposure to the easement concept came through more than 30 years of membership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. (Sometimes conservancy organizations are working together and don’t even realize it!) Genevieve, who is 88 and no longer travels, was on board with the idea of a conservation easement…as long and Kim and Matt took the lead. And they did. Knowledge of options, a mission to conserve the tract as Kim’s father had done for decades, and respect for ancestry quickly gelled into a plan.

The rolling and irregular property has changed a bit over the decades. Stonewalls, a trademark of Irish homesteads in the area, still exist. However, the property is no longer recognizable as a farm. The fields have been gradually reverting to woodland. Trees have matured and some areas have always been wooded. The forest consists of a mixture of northern hardwoods, including beech, birch, cherry, oak and maple, and associated species. Some light timbering in one area was done in 2011 in accordance with the property’s Forest Stewardship Plan. A variety of ferns have grown; deer have prospered; a short walking trail was created.

The property contains several wetlands including an abandoned beaver pond that is now approximately five acre wetland. The property’s springs and wetlands contribute to an   un-named tributary of Wallis Run flowing through the property. Wallis Run is an EV (Exceptional Value) designated waterway in Pennsylvania. The water from this property eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay, whose protection and restoration is a multi-state priority.

The family didn’t fully realize the significance of the water resources on their Lycoming County property until November 2014 when Kim and Matt joined NPC staff, interns, and the technical committee to walk the land and then discuss it. By conserving this property, the landowners aLogue-2014-6re helping to protect not only this region’s water quality but also that of the Susquehanna River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. During the meeting, NPC staff members were also able to relay to the landowners the importance of preventing erosion and siltation as well as overly compacted soil that can be caused by disturbances, including ATV use and horseback riding.

Before he died in 2009, John F. Logue, Jr. talked to Kim about his lucky life. He became a professional musician, mathematician, teacher, and computer programmer / systems analyst. Hearkening to his childhood appreciation of open space and with Genevieve’s willingness and capable assistance, he also added gentleman sheep farmer to the list. The Mercer County property grew to include fields, pastures, and woodlands with a ravine and small creek. It was an ideal setting for their kids and the neighborhood kids to explore, play, and embrace the natural world. And they did. And it shaped them too. The Logue family believes that this easement is yet another opportunity to inspire future generations to respect and appreciate the natural world.

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Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy ♦ PO Box 2083, Williamsport, PA 17703 ♦ 570.323.6222
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