Be sure to check the events section of our Natural Lands Trust website regularly for events on our preserves or led by our staff—last weekend was the Eagle Festival in Cumberland County, New Jersey. Or click the events tab on the NLT Facebook page for other events such as our Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary lecture series and night hikes. We add events online and have gotten away from sending many paper schedules of events to our members.
There are lots of other regional events of outdoor interest to add to your calendar—here are just a few: This weekend the Brandywine Valleys Association will be hosting its polar plunge in the Brandywine River. It's a fundraiser and good clean fun.
Later this month Longwood Graduate Program Fellow, Zoe Panchen, will be speaking at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve on the topic of her masters' research which includes blooming data from Crow's Nest. She hasn't revealed the results of her data collection—peak wildflower bloom dates from photography, fieldwork, and 150 years of herbarium records—but I can tell you the title of the lecture is "Early Bloomers in a Changing Climate." (Fee charged; call Bowman's Hill for details.)
On March 19th Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site will hold its annual "March for Parks." The morning will feature a volunteer workday: trail clearing and roadside trash pickup. Afterward participants are invited to picnic at Hopewell (snacks and drinks provided, bring your own picnic lunch). Contact Hopewell Furnace for more info.
April 2 will be our own annual cleanup at Crow's Nest Preserve, also a morning event (stay tuned here for details, but we will likely be doing some tree planting in addition to the usual vine cutting and clearing).
And then on June 4 we will hold our annual Crow's Nest Open House and Contra Dance: hayrides, potluck dinner, and barn dance. Of course you'll have to choose between that and starting the first day of the Schuylkill River Sojourn.
Lots to look forward to from these snowbound days!
We are pleased to be able to offer paid summer internships at Crow's Nest again this summer, one in Environmental Education and one in Land Management.
Each runs for ten weeks during summer; candidates for the Environmental Education position must be able to work during the weeks of camp June 27 and August 5. The Education Intern will prepare for camp and assist with land management when camp is not in session.
You can read the full job description for the land management internship here, and the one for environmental education here.
The positions are open until filled. Natural Lands Trust, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer.
I spread gravel today on top of the ice in the parking lot to provide traction and make use of solar warming to melt the ice. I've rarely had to do this before but it will certainly help this year. Our neighbor put some gravel down for us Friday to help parents picking up WebWigglers (thanks, Brent!) and so I covered the rest of it.
The new tires we bought for the truck this year have helped immensely in preventing me from getting stuck while plowing. But plowing on gravel doesn't get us down to bare ground.
I had good luck getting other peoples' cars unstuck this year by tossing my rubber floor mats under their tires.
This winter will come to an end—there are already signs. The sun is stronger each day. A preserve visitor on snowshoes tells me he saw crows building a nest (how appropriate here!). And foxes were making an otherworldly racket last night as their breeding season begins.
The day of the ice storm was very beautiful; it only looked stark. It was warmer than many days this winter and had its own subtle beauty. But now we need to be reminded of what's to come: flowers and critters now dormant will without fail return to the land. Here are a few random photos to provide a break from winter's monochrome.
The Delaware River was named Pennsylvania's 2011 River of the Year by the PA DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization of Watersheds and Rivers (POWR). This year, there were five other nominees, and the public was asked to vote for their favorite river.
The River of the Year designation helps raise awareness of a river's attributes and its conservation needs. I like that the public votes. I think it raises awareness of everyone's watershed, because watershed associations and other community groups rally public support for their local waterways. With the Delaware in my side yard, it was a no-brainer how I voted, but I admit I am inspired to explore the other nominees (Clarion River, Conewango Creek, Kiskiminetas River, Pine Creek and Stonycreek River), because they must be awfully special to have made the ballot.
Now, while the region is under snow, is a great time to plan your river visits. (I love sitting by the woodstove on winter evenings with maps spread out on the floor.) I encourage you to get your feet wet in the Delaware River this year. There are a number of ways to do that. One of my favorites is the Delaware River Sojourn June 18 - 25. You can attend for just one day, or all eight. Shuttles and meals are provided. It is educational, it is social, it is fun. Mariton will also be running kayak trips during the year for our members.
Natural Lands Trust is a regional organization that reaches from southern New Jersey, up past the Poconos, and out to central Pennsylvania. When you consider all the lands that we are stewards of (40 preserves and 20,987 acres), along with all of the conservation easements that limit development (278 easements and 19,379 acres), there are only a handful that are outside of the Delaware River Watershed. That amazes me on two levels. One, that the Delaware is so wide reaching. It influences (and its water quality is influenced) by so much of the mid-Atlantic. The second is that NLT reaches so far, yet are core area is still the Delaware River.
Again, I encourage you to take a close look at the Delaware in the coming year. I also encourage you to look at one of the tributaries that empties into the Delaware. Hopefully, that exploration will give you a better understanding about how our lives affect our waterways from the tiniest drainage to the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi.
I agree with Tim that getting around at the preserves right now is difficult without snowshoes. Here's a willow below the pond.
Since these photos were taken there has been some sun and the snow is compacting, but it's still deep.
I've gotten behind on downloading photos recently because I am switching to new software to manage them, and finding the learning curve a bit steep. I have over 40,000 digital photos taken for Natural Lands Trust over the last ten years: that includes wildflowers, land management, building restorations, summer camp activities, pictures that document conservation easements, and lots more. Add to that another 21,000 personal photos organized on another drive and suddenly I feel overwhelmed.
The new system will use keywords and other metadata to help sort and find photos. At the moment my workflow is more complicated but it eventually will be streamlined.
These snowbound winter days are ideal for working on the photo organizing as well as planning and budgeting I have deferred for such times. A lot of the projects I might normally do in the winter are impossible right now; mowing meadows, managing invasives and even monitoring conservation easements are tasks that are temporarily on hold. Even though I get a bit of a break right now the snow adds to the workload (shoveling and plowing) and will make the spring workload that much greater.
This is the black gum courting tree on Northside Road.
Here are a few pictures from within the ice storm the other day. They look like something out of a movie, but that was just the way it was. Note the black and turkey vultures perched on the beaver-killed trees along the creek:
Kevin and I snow-shoed on most of the trails Thursday checking for any down trees after the ice storm. There is an ice crust on the snow that is not thick enough to support a person's weight. Walking without snow shoes would be challenging. Because of the crust, X-C skiing would also be difficult. A few inches of snow on top of the crust would make skiing conditions better.
The snow base is about two feet deep. It is interesting to see trail markers and deer rubs right at snow level, instead of two feet off of the ground. If you come out this weekend, be careful. Even walking with snow shoes was a work out.