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Archive for February, 2010

Mariton – Night Walk Canceled

The Night Walk scheduled for Friday, February 26 has been canceled.  The snow in the woods would make walking difficult.  The sky is clear, so you should at least take a few minutes this evening to stand out on your porch or driveway to enjoy the moonlight.

The parking lot at Mariton is clear and dry; Sunnyside Road is also clear.  So, if you bring snowshoes or XC skis, you should have a great time on the trails this weekend.

Mariton – Rain and Snow

I had 1.23 inches of precipitation in the rain gauge this morning (mostly rain).  Yesterday morning, there was another 0.36 inches of rain and a little snow.  Fortunately it was mostly liquid precipitation.  If it had been all snow, we could have received 10 – 15 inches. 

That would have been a interesting precursor to a storm headed our way on Thursday.  Snow estimates that I am seeing for this new storm range up to 24" for Mariton.  (I've seen 12 – 24", 12 – 18", 9 – 18", etc.)  It is likely that we will get at least 12 inches of snow here.  The coming storm has a frightening Nor'easter component(some are even comparing it to a hurricane), which means it could stall and spin over one area for extended periods.  Have fun, but be safe.

Environmental Landscape Design Conference

The 21st annual New Directions in the American Landscape symposium will be held at Haverford College on March 11 and 12. Co-sponsored by Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania and Larry Weaner Landscape Associates this conference is always thought-provoking and inspiring.

It features an intriguing talk entitled "You Don't Know a Plant until You've Killed It." Other sessions address the link between nursery culture of a plant and its performance once it has been planted; the effect of legacy sediments (those left behind removed dams) on planting designs; and designing for the inevitable disturbances of natural disasters. Tom Brightman will talk about the meadow landscape at Longwood Gardens—a popular and unique feature of this otherwise formal public garden. A highlight of the second day is Eric Sanderson's talk about the Manhatta Project and Patrick Cullina on the horticulture of New York City's High Line. The former is an investigation of what Manhattan might have looked like before it became a city, and the latter is the recent creation of a park and natural area on an elevated railway in Manhattan.

Crow’s Nest Summer Internship 2010

Summer intern-ee 10

We will be offering a summer internship in environmental education and land stewardship this summer; a snapshot of the job description appears above (click on it to enlarge). The intern will help with our five weeks of summer camp and assist with land management in the weeks when camp is not in session.

Please call or write me for more information.

Crow’s Nest: Under all that snow… another spring interlude

Perhaps we need the reminder now even more than a few weeks ago: here are some pictures of the wildflowers of spring and summer that are out there dormant under all of the snow.


Here's a trout lily (Erithronium americanum), one of the early spring arrivals. These are photos taken by Denis Manchon; even these reduced versions show much more detail than we normally notice given the flowers' small size.

Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is another one you will see at Crow's Nest this spring.


Round-lobed hepatica or liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa) grows in the deep woods at Crow's Nest. This species' nomenclature is sometimes grouped with Anemone which has similar flowers.

Blue vervain

Summer will bring the blooms of blue vervain (Verbena hastata).

I am using these images Denis donated in a talk I am giving this spring for the Haverford College Arboretum Association. When we talk about the land's resources that Natural Lands Trust is protecting we aren't always specific—open lands aren't, after all, empty spaces—but these slides illustrate just a little of the diversity of plants and habitats we preserve and manage.

Tree Owners Manual now available online


A few of us from Natural Lands Trust attended the Winter Grounds Manager's Seminar—a program of Lehigh County Cooperative Extension—in Kutztown on Wednesday. We were pleased to find a strong emphasis in the seminar on using native plants in landscaping. In addition to a lecture on creating riparian buffers there was a presentation by a local native plant nursery. And Julianne Schieffer, an urban forester I have known a long time, presented a Tree Owners Manual put out by the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area.

This booklet is set up in format similar to something with which we're all familiar: your car's owners manual. It also presents the state-of-the art knowledge about what to do (and not to do) to keep your trees healthy. Nurseries and landscape contractors can download and print copies of the book to give to homeowners, or anyone can download it and use it.

Urban forestry is something that is dear to me because it is where I spent part of my early career. In 1991 I was an intern at the same Forest Service regional office that developed this current Tree Owners Manual. (The Urban and Community Forestry fact sheets I edited you probably won't find online—they predate the digital era.) A few years later Julianne Schieffer coordinated a park tree planting in the city of Chester; I helped out and used the techniques I had learned at the Forest Service. I worked with neighborhood groups that were conducting inventories of their street trees, forerunners of the Tree Tenders and TreeVitalize programs today.

Greening urban spaces is closely related to protecting natural areas because making existing communities more livable and comfortable reduces some of the pressure to develop new housing outside of current neighborhoods.

Mariton – Costa Rica Get Away

On Friday evening, Professor Terry Master will present his Power Point Costa Rica:  From Sea to Summit  at Mariton.  A professor in Ecology and Ornithology at East Stroudsburg University, Dr. Master has traveled many times to Costa Rica to study the bird life.  Because this country changes drastically from the coast to the mountains, there are several ecological communities that provide a rich diversity for naturalists to explore.  An interesting look at a fascinating destination.

Whether you just want an evening to contemplate the tropics, or want to plan a get-a-way, Dr. Master's presentation will be a delightful respite from the snow in our back yards.  The program starts at 8:00 p.m. in the Nature Center.

Crow’s Nest: Still under snow…

We still have 1 – 2 feet of snow here, gradually compacting itself and sublimating. We are open and holding all of our nature clubs this week. You might think the kids would be tired of sledding but they're not. They also played in the shelter of the sod house (now more like a snow cave) and played the kind of games that can only be done in untrammeled snow.

If you want to walk the trails you will need snowshoes or cross-country skis.

We had plenty of extra work clearing the snow, now completed. But there are a lot of land management projects that are on hold due to the conditions. We have two meadows that remain to be mowed under all that snow. If we can't do it this winter, a midsummer mowing done after ground nesting birds are finished is an alternative.

Some invasives control is on hold because the snow makes access difficult—the snowshoes that keep you on the surface cannot be used in areas off trail that are thick with vines. Our brush piles cannot be chipped right now. Even monitoring conservation easements is on hold because the snow hides the land so well.

I am working on a couple presentations I will be giving in the coming months, and attended a few days of professional training (scheduled before the snow). All of the equipment is serviced and the shop is clean. We'll be working on budgets shortly and planning summer camp.

Mariton – Weekend Recreation

SKIING 2.13.10 002 Mariton's parking lot is clean and dry, and Sunnyside Road is in good shape.  If you plan to visit Mariton this weekend, I highly recommend snowshoes or cross-country skis.  The snow on the trails is deep and difficult  for walking. 

Mariton – Thank Goodness for Sublimation

Sublimation is the process where a solid (like snow or ice) goes directly to a gaseous state (water vapor) without melting (becoming a liquid).  It is very handy during cold snowy winters.

SNOW 2.12.10 008 So why is it important?  The February 10th storm dropped 18 inches of snow on Mariton.  Melted, that yielded 1.56 inches of water in the rain gauge.  While some of this will melt on warm days, much of it will sublimate, especially during cold days and nights.  That is a good thing, because 1.56 inches is a lot of rain to get rid of in the summer time when the ground isn't frozen.

SNOW 2.12.10 004 I learned about sublimation in a physics class while living in Michigan during the late 1970's.  We had several winters during that period where it would snow 4 – 6 inches every night for weeks on end.  I cross-county skied a lot those years!  It would mostly snow at night and then be sunny, but cold, the next day.  My professor pointed out how the piles of snow in the parking lot were huge, but really didn't grow as much as expected.  More importantly, the parking lots would have turned into skating rinks if all of that snow had to melt to disappear.  This snow pile at Mariton is over 5 feet tall.  It will shrink, but you will see very little water running across the parking lot (unless it gets really warm and melts).  Believe me, we really don't want that right now.

SNOW 2.12.10 006 Another reason to be thankful for sublimation:  snow on your roof.  If one side of your roof is 20 feet by 40 feet, the 18 inches of snow weigh about 3.5 tons.  Over time and hopefully before the next snowfall some of the weight will sublimate into the atmosphere (and off of your roof!). Even more frightening is that the 18" of snow equals 778 gallons on a 20 X 40 foot roof.  Do you think 800 gallons is going to flow very easily into your rain gutters and out your downspouts right now?  We like to clear the bottom two feet of snow from our north facing roofs.  It helps evaporate what does melt before it reaches the gutters.

Finally, you can line dry laundry in the middle of winter because of sublimation.  Maureen and I haven't used a clothes dryer for over a decade.  We line dry year 'round.  In fact, we got rid of our dryer to use the space for something else.  Line drying laundry is just one way we try to reduce our energy footprint.  In the winter, it is actually more efficient than most people realize (because of sublimation).  If we do laundry after work and hang it out in the evening it is frozen before we finish hanging it up.  But some of the lighter items will be totally dry in the morning.  Most everything, including jeans, will be dry that evening.  The frozen water in your clothes goes into water vapor and  laundry literally freeze dries.  In fact, it dries more quickly if the temperature doesn't go above freezing.  You know when it is dry because it is no longer frozen.  An added benefit; laundry line-dried in the winter smells so good.


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