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Posts categorized Crow’s Nest.

Plants we love (most of the time), Part 1

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Philadelphia fleebane (Erigeron philadelphicus) is a pretty, native wildflower that is also occasionally a bit weedy—but only in our lawns and gardens. It’s a member of the aster family and opens in spring with pinkish ray flowers that fade to white.

I’ve never seen it behave aggressively in the natural areas at Crow’s Nest Preserve, in fact it’s not that common in our native meadows or on the edge of our woods. But it shows up reliably in our turf, around trees and shrubs that are the landscaping, and at the edge of garden beds. It survives any place it escapes the lawnmower, and even though it is weedy I make sure that most of it isn’t nicked by the lawnmower. But I also don’t feel bad about accidentally cutting one—there will be more next year.

Crow’s Nest: Ash tree removals along roads

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

We are continuing to address the eventual decline and death of our ash trees due to the introduced pest, emerald ash borer, by cutting down ash trees a few at a time along the roadsides where the trees could become a hazard.

As of March 2017 emerald ash borer has been confirmed in all but three counties in Pennsylvania. Chester County is one of those three, but I am certain it is already here. Although I haven’t seen the insect itself, I have seen the damage it does elsewhere in the state and I am seeing similar damage and death here.

We have identified that there are 200 ash trees along our roads at Crow’s Nest, and started last year to take them down. We will spread the effort out over several years but hope to be well underway before trees start dying and becoming more difficult to take down. For this round we chose about 30 trees in a variety of sizes but we prioritized those that were not entirely healthy-looking ones.

We will also be treating with insecticide a handful of specimen ash trees—about a dozen. Ash trees in the woods will be on their own, and as they die their wood will become habitat for insects and birds before recycling their nutrients back into forest soils.

While the arborist was here he also took down two oaks along the roadsides: one that recently died and one (below) that has been declining for years. There was a lot of dead wood suspended overhead.

As much as we love trees, everything that lives also dies, and where they pose a potential hazard we choose to manage these trees.

Crow’s Nest Internship 2017-18 Applications Open

We are accepting applications for the 11-month long paid, residential internship at Crow’s Nest Preserve. The intern splits his or her time between land management and staffing environmental education programs at the preserve.

The land stewardship activities include maintaining areas around the buildings—mowing, weed whipping, pruning, planting—as well as natural areas management: invasives management, mowing trails and meadows, planting trees, maintaining fences for prescribed grazing areas, and more.

The education role includes planning and staffing a five-week summer camp as well as year round after-school and homeschool Nature Clubs, cleaning and preparing the visitor center for groups, and light maintenance. Our kids’ programs are based on outdoor play in a natural setting: unstructured, supervised play and exploration in the preserve’s 621 acres of habitat.

A job description is posted here.

We are looking for an individual with a strong interest in working with kids. Candidates should also be able to maintain a positive attitude while doing long hours of physical labor outdoors in all weather conditions. Training is provided and some educational and networking opportunities are available during the internship. Housing is included onsite (utilities not included).

To apply: Send your resume and cover letter to: Jeni Albany, Natural Lands Trust’s human resources manager, at  .

Crow’s Nest: Prescribed Fire today

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Today we held our first prescribed fire of the year—very late! The late snow and rain that followed has compressed our season. We’re grateful for the opportunity nonetheless.

Above, intern Riley Clark-Long lights one line of the fire. We provide the opportunity for training for prescribed fire for our interns each year. This winter Riley completed Federal courses in Wildland Firefighting and Wildland Fire Behavior, and took training and a physical fitness test with the rest of Natural Lands Trust staff that conducts prescribed burns.

Above, the other crew, led by Sean Quinn (an intern from years ago, now Preserve Manager at NLT’s Cheslen Preserve) works its way up the hill toward us. We have to create a black line (a burned-out edge) that stays ahead of any fire they send toward us.

We strive for an upright smoke column (above). That means there is sufficient heat generated in the meadow for our management goals, and also disperses the smoke out of the immediate neighborhood.

That’s our house in the background (above). Now we can watch the field green up from our porch. It will do that quickly over the next couple weeks.

Above and below, before and after photos of a high-bush blueberry in the second meadow we burned today. Even with all the rain we had last week, the surface fuels (grass and dead leaves) are very dry, yet underneath the ground is wet enough to get a vehicle stuck (we didn’t, though).

I also like clean edges on our prescribed fires—they’re a sign of the intentionality of what we’re doing. Prescribed fire more closely mimics a natural activity than mowing, the other alternative for maintaining meadows in our region. We burn our meadows on about a 5 – 6 year rotation, and mow most of them once a year in between.

Thank you to the Natural Lands Trust team of Land Stewardship staff who cooperates to make these burns possible.

Crow’s Nest: Film series continues

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Next Saturday night, April 8, we will have our second in a series of environmental films at Crow’s Nest Preserve. We started last month with Dirt: The Movie. Our next screening will be of Hometown Habitat, a documentary about the value of native plants in our home landscapes to support wildlife. It features Natural Lands Trust board member and University of Delaware entomologist Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home and, with Rick Darke, author of The Living Landscape.

Read more about our screening and register to attend (it’s free!) here. Bring a potluck dessert to share. We hope to see you!

Crow’s Nest: Splash blocks

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Aubrey installed this week a series of cobblestones under the dripline of the barn addition overhang. Without a gutter the rain falling off the roof was scouring away the soil beneath it. I’ll take credit (or blame) for the idea, but Aubrey, along with Riley, did all the work. Thanks also to the Building Stewardship guys for cutting a couple of the stones in half so they could be staggered. I think it looks great!

Crow’s Nest: Not a big night, but some salamander migration…

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

It was certainly warm enough, but maybe not wet enough, or maybe we were late to the party…

Crow’s Nest: It’s dry (and warm)

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

This is the first time in 20 years of meadow mowing that I have done winter mowing of meadows when the ground is not frozen.

Normally by the time the sun hits the frosty ground in winter, our fields start getting gooey. This year, it’s so dry that I can mow this week any afternoon. By the end of the day today we’ll be finished most of the winter meadow mowing—and not a moment too soon as it seems like spring is almost upon us already!

Crow’s Nest: Winter Scenes

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Last night’s snow left us with some pretty spectacular scenery. The springhouse nestles in the valley, below.

This oak-leaf hydrangea displays some beautiful branching, just one of many reasons to plant this native (including exfoliating bark, pretty flowers, spectacular fall color):

The snow was wet and heavy but not deep. We’re hoping it firms up as the temperatures drop later to make for better sledding. Right now it’s blowing and drifting.

Here a trailhead beckons:

French Creek looks charming from the Harmonyville Road bridge.

This scene makes it look colder than it is.

Finally, a photo I call “Bliss.” The cattle enjoy a little bit of stored-up summer.

Crow’s Nest – Family hikes

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

It has been a real pleasure over the holidays seeing how many families have been out hiking together at the preserve. The weather has been pretty good and people have had some time off; I’m glad to see that going for a walk in nature is how people chose to spend that time. Many of the local trail clubs offered “First Day” hikes at various places today.

Above is the view where I see people hiking… a spot of color traversing one of the far fields.

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