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Archive for August, 2016

Happy Centennial, National Park Service!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Today the National Park Service celebrates 100 years, and (like the PBS documentary suggests) I think it is America’s Best Idea. These breathtaking places are a national treasure and making them parks has democratized them so that everyone can enjoy them—truly an American social as well as environmental legacy. And think of how much of the conservation movement worldwide has been a result of the ethic that wanted these lands protected, managed and shared.

We are particularly fortunate at Crow’s Nest Preserve to share a boundary with a unit of the National Park Service: Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. More than just a neighbor, we have enjoyed the benefits of being their partner on many projects, from trail building to invasive plant management to dark sky initiatives to the land preservation efforts of the Hopewell Big Woods.

It’s hard for me to believe that it has been almost 20 years since we built the trail that connects Crow’s Nest to Hopewell Furnace. You can hike to the village (or many other trails there or in French Creek State Park) from our parking area and visitor center, or start there and find your way here! Their Baptism Creek Trail connects to our Hopewell Trail and you can easily walk from one to the other without using public roads.

Happy Centennial, National Park Service!

Crow’s Nest: Ash Tree Management Update

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


We’ve started the next step of ash tree management to reduce the number of ash trees along our roads before they die (from Emerald Ash Borer) and become a hazard. We contracted the removal of 16 trees or clumps of trees, less than 10% of what occurs along roadsides at Crow’s Nest.


Some of the wood is given away to neighbors for firewood, some is left to become the nurse logs for a future forest, and some is chipped to provide material to surface our trails. We’ve started with the more difficult trees, around wires and close to the roads, but there are plenty more to go. Notably it’s easier and safer to work with trees that are not dead and brittle.

Below, Aubrey hauls a log out of a roadside hedgerow.


Emerald Ash Borer was recently found in Philadelphia, and is present in all the counties around us, and it is 100% fatal in untreated trees (we’re also treating about a dozen ash trees with insecticide so that when the borer dies out after it wipes out its host, the tree species will not be extirpated from our region).

Crow’s Nest: Brutal Summer

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


This summer has been really brutal. I’m not sure we’ve set any record highs, but it has been consistently, brutally hot. We can’t ask staff and volunteers to work too hard in this heat—they need to take lots of rest.

We’ve missed most of the rain that places only a half hour north or south have received. Enough rain has now fallen to green up the grass, but lots of trees and shrubs are wilting. It has been a rough year for planting (the rain garden at Green Hills, a butterfly garden at home, 90+ acres of meadows at Green Hills). It’s taken a lot of extra work just to keep things alive.

Alas, we don’t control the weather—but we can complain about it. Hey, winter will be here soon enough.

Crow’s Nest Camp Week Five

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

The fifth week of summer camp is over; the summer was a whirl of activity. I enjoy hanging out with the 7th and 8th graders who have been through our programs for years and who we have watched grow and mature. We went on several field trips including kayaking the Schuylkill River and visiting Natural Lands Trust’s Cheslen Preserve. I ducked away from the program as needed to stay on top of land stewardship but I snapped photos from a few of the events.

We kayaked first on Hopewell Lake, did team-building activities, and hiked the perimeter of the lake. Here is one group at the new Hopewell Big Woods trail that connects Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site with French Creek State Park with an accessible trail. (If you drive from one place to the other it’s a few miles’ roundabout trip; but to walk from the core day-use area of the state park to the village at Hopewell Furnace only takes a few minutes.)


Here’s an amazing wisteria vine at the park picnic area.


The campers did a lot of service projects to give back to the preserve: they put away the building supplies the earlier camps had used, they moved rocks to build a low wall around the fairy village, they spread gravel on footpaths, and built a “vine house” that future campers can play in and on:


The trip on the Schuylkill Canal and River was sublime, a glorious day to drift down the river. At the end of the week we cleaned up the kayaks before returning them so we don’t transfer any weeds or pests from one water body to another.


The 7/8 camp is always bittersweet as we are saying goodbye to our oldest campers. But we hope that they will remain friends of Crow’s Nest and keep us up to date about their adventures.

Mariton: July Showers

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The yearly precipitation deficit was drawn down during July at Mariton. I recorded 8.80 inches of rain for July.  The average for the month is 5.61.  Although 9 inches is a lot of rain for a month, it is not the wettest July.  In 2004, we received 12.27” at Mariton.  I have written before that July can be the driest month (0.40” in 1999), or the wettest.  It just depends on where thunderstorms dump rain, and if a tropical system moves up the coast.

Mariton’s tally for the year is now 27.94 inches, and the average for this point is 30.26”. We were lucky to receive some showers during the month that other areas did not receive.  A drought watch has been declared for the area.  It seems a little strange after all the rain last week, but overall we are in a dry weather pattern and the precipitation deficit could increase again.

Crow’s Nest: Camp Week Four

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Kids in the 3rd and 4th grade camp rebuilt the canopy community that has been built and unbuilt at each week of camp. They personalize the space with hammocks, benches, tables, flags, swings, and paint. At the end of the week the kids take their accessories down and put away the materials; at the end of summer all of the scaffolding will be put away for another year.


The barn is still filled with arts and crafts, murals of the sun and paper-mache planets hanging from the ceiling. The kids also made sundials, fabric squares for a quilt of leaf patterns using dye that is activated by the sun, and pizza-box solar ovens.


There was plenty of time to play in the creek (another hot week!) and go on small group hikes to explore the preserve (below, meeting the calves). We hope the kids had as much of a good time as we did!



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