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Archive for January, 2013

Crow’s Nest: Now that’s a storm!

We had about 3 1/4 inches of rain last night and the stream is as flooded as I’ve ever seen it. Above, the creek almost fills the opening under the new Harmonyville Road bridge. Below, our new culvert is designed to allow floodwaters to go over it without damage.

The stubby posts mark native shrubs—wetland species, of course—that I planted around the culvert. In the photos above and below the trails themselves are under water.

As the storm cleared this morning the skies provided strong contrast:


Posted by Daniel Barringer on January 31, 2013.

Mariton: Turnpike Trail Open

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Kevin and I opened the Turnpike Trail between the parking lot and Squeeze Trail this week.  This was a big land mark for the two of us.  We have been slowly pushing through the blowdowns on the Squeeze and Turnpike trails since before Christmas.  It wasn’t constant; we had to attend to other jobs during that period, but we worked on these sections whenever we had a chance.

The photo below is from the Squeeze Trail looking down the Turnpike as we got started.

Below, while working on one of the nasty tangles of several large trees.  (Photo by Kevin Mault).

After we opened up the trail

We won’t be doing the Turnpike Trail from the Squeeze up to the meadows for the time being.  I need to start easeement monitoring.  The final section is worse than anything we have done so far.  This is a photo looking uphill from the Squeeze Trail.  For reference, you can find the stone wall on the right side of the photo that runs alongside the Turnpike Trail.

This is a photo taken from the top of the trail looking down.  (Stone wall on the left side of the trail.

Crow’s Nest Winter Nature Clubs: Ready to Go, With or Without Snow!

Kids’ programs start this week, and maybe we’ll also have some snow for them. We’ll make use of snow if we have it, otherwise there’s a whole preserve to explore in winter: the cattail swamp, the wire bridge over Pine Creek, visit the goats, climb on rocks and fallen trees, see the old beaver swamp, hike to parts of the preserve that are not accessible during summer’s growth.

Grades 2 -3 meet on Wednesday afternoons for WebWanderers. Webwalkers kids have two choices: ages 8 – 11 homeschooled on Thursday mornings or grades 4 -6 in the afternoons. And on Friday afternoons we hold WebWigglers for grades k – 1.

Registration is nearly full. Call Molly at 610-286-7955 for more information.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on January 21, 2013.

Mariton: Squeeze Trail Opened

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The Squeeze Trail is now re-opened, but the Turnpike Trail remains closed.  Visitors can check out the extent of the storm damage from the Squeeze Trail, but will have to turn around when they reach the Turnpike Trail and retrace their steps. 

Even though the Squeeze is a dead end trail (for the time being), it is an interesting walk.  The Turnpike and Squeeze trails are in the middle of our largest blow down from Hurricane Sandy.  Before opening this trail, it was impossible to get a sense of how much of the forest has been affected by the storm. 

(photo by Kevin Mault)

Kevin and I still look on the scene in wonder.  We spent several days cutting trees to open the Squeeze Trail.  (In the photo above,  I’m standing on the Squeeze Trail while cutting a tangle of trees.)  It would be easy to become blasé to the situation, but it still astounds us.  At one time the word awful meant to be filled with awe.  It now has a more negative connotation.  If you walk down the Squeeze Trail and contemplate everything that you are seeing:  the wind, the noise, the force; I think you too will be filled with awe.   

(A section of the Squeeze before clearing.)

I hadn’t planned to open this trail to visitors, until we could open a section of the Turnpike Trail to provide a loop.  (That is still a couple weeks away.)  When we finally cut through the downed trees, and reached the Turnpike Trail, I realized the value of letting people check out this interesting scene.

(The same section after clearing.)

Crow’s Nest: Winter hiking is the best

We had many wonderful visitors to the preserve this past weekend, enjoying some mild weather to get outdoors. Winter hikers are a hardy sort, adventuresome friends and families. They usually wear boots and bring a change of shoes for when they get back in the car. They know the secrets of getting out in the winter—fewer bugs, less sweating, and a landscape revealed that cannot be seen in summer.

I have said before that one of may favorite parts of being a preserve manager is getting to share the preserve with others. I enjoy seeing folks using the preserve at any time of year and am always happy to open the visitor center barn if I am around, and talk with you about Natural Lands Trust and our work here.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on January 15, 2013.

Mariton: 2012 Precipitaiton

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The precipitation total at Mariton for 2012 was 42.81 inches.  To put things in perspective, only 1997 (40.39”) and 2001 (41.37”) were dryer from my limited data.  We probably would have been drier, except that December was fairly wet with a total of 5.17 inches of precipitation for the month.

Forty-three inches is about 10 inches below average, however we never went through a period of really dry weather.  November was the driest month (0.92″), and I only measured precipitation on 4 days in November.  After Hurricane Sandy, I think people were relieved to have an extended period without too much rain to work on building repairs.  March was also dry with only 0.97″; in February we recieved 1.32″.  For the most part, we received rain fairly regularly during the growing season.

What is your guess for the wettest month of 2012?  October was just under 7 inches, a little over 2 inches coming from Sandy.  September was next with 5.68″.   May was third with 5.37″ , but May was interesting because I recorded precipitation on 19 days that month.

What does 2013 hold in store?  Well, in 2011 we received 80.37’ (25” above average).  In 2010, we received average precipitation of 51.87”.  So, if I was going out on a limb, I would guess that we will either return to average precipitation, or we could have another year in the 40+” inch range.

Crow’s Nest: Not quite a Champion, but still our champion

We have always thought our tuliptree near the visitor center at Crow’s Nest was pretty big. The kids at camp in 2006 measured it and submitted it to the list of Big Trees of Pennsylvania.

Big trees are scored on a formula that includes circumference at 4.5 feet above the ground (182 inches, for ours), the height in feet, and the average breadth of the canopy divided by four. But getting the numbers for height and average breadth is difficult, especially on uneven ground and when the tree is surrounded by other (admittedly smaller) ones. In our estimates in 2006 the students used forestry tools to generate the numbers, but the figures were still estimates.

But there is some technology that can generate extremely precise measurements that is used in geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics, laser altimetry, and contour mapping. That is LIDAR, LIght Detecting And Ranging, technology that we can use for remote sensing and scientific research on our preserves. Mike McGeehin from our GIS Department analyzed LIDAR images of the Hopewell Big Woods (in which Crow’s Nest Preserve lies) and determined that our tuliptree is 117 feet tall and has a spread in one direction of 76 feet in one direction and 51 feet in the other.

Added into the big tree formula, our tuliptree scores 315 points. The state champion scores 420 and is at Tyler Arboretum. Even the tenth largest (at Longwood Gardens, with a score of 329) is a bit bigger than ours. That’s as far as they list tuliptrees on the Big Tree List in the Commonwealth, so we’re just short of the list—literally. Still, we have an impressive tree, with a trunk diameter of nearly five feet as you face it.

The best part is that trees are living beings, and that they continue to grow—although slowly at these trees’ ages. And many of the trees on the Big Trees list are located in places where you can go see them. Check out the Big Trees website for details.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on January 5, 2013


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