Field Journal Friday: Dickey Farm Conservation Easement

Established in 1999, the Dickey Farm conservation easement stands as a testament to thoughtful stewardship and long-term planning. The decision to conserve their 195-acre property came after the landowners attended an ‘Estate Planning for Family Lands’ workshop hosted by NPC. Already equipped with a farm plan and woodlot management strategy, they were dedicated to enhancing wildlife habitat on their property. Recognizing the importance of conserving their land in perpetuity, they chose to establish a conservation easement.

Today, Dickey Farm remains a thriving example of productive farmland. The conservation easement not only helps conserve wildlife habitat but also conserves critical water and scenic resources. The property’s unique geography includes a ridge that divides its drainage into two watersheds. A spring originating here flows into Sugar Run, a tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River, while the back portion drains into the Bald Eagle Creek watershed. Its prominent location ensures it is visible from several public roads and neighboring State Game Lands to the south.

Observation #1: Daisy Fleabane

Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus), a native wildflower in Pennsylvania, belongs to the aster family and blooms from late spring through summer. Its clusters of small, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers and white rays attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Often found in meadows and along woodland edges, this resilient flower adds a cheerful touch to Pennsylvania’s landscapes, sometimes becoming a favorite gifted bouquet picked by little hands.

Daisy Fleabane

Observation #2: Round-Leaved Orchid

In Pennsylvania, the round-leaved orchid (Amerorchis rotundifolia) adds a touch of elegance to moist woodlands and meadows with its distinctive features. Characterized by round, glossy leaves forming a basal rosette and a slender flowering stem bearing clusters of small, intricate flowers, this orchid blooms from mid to late summer.

Observation #3: Perfoliate Bellwort

Perfoliate bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata), found in Pennsylvania’s woodlands and forest edges, stands out with its distinctive perfoliate leaves. The term “perfoliate” refers to the botanical feature where the stem appears to pass through the center of the leaf. This gives the impression that the leaf is pierced or surrounded by the stem itself. In early to mid-spring, perfoliate bellwort blooms with delicate, pendulous yellow flowers that hang beneath its gracefully arching stems.

Perfoliate Bellwort

Observation #4: Sassafras

Pennsylvania’s forests showcase sassafras (Sassafras albidum) with its distinct three-lobed leaves that can vary in shape, including mitten-shaped and trilobed forms, offering a colorful display of yellow, orange, and red foliage during the fall season. Beyond its visual appeal, sassafras was historically used by Native American tribes and later European settlers for its aromatic bark, roots, and leaves, which were believed to have medicinal and culinary properties.

Sassafras
Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Van Horn & Van Horn Homestead Conservation Easements
Bednar Conservation Easement
Joshi Conservation Easement
Lyons Conservation Easement
Richards Conservation Easement
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

NPC’s 2024 Annual Membership Meeting Recap

Who could have predicted the NPC office would lose power two hours before the annual membership meeting? We certainly didn’t!

But in typical NPC fashion, our membership rallied. They demonstrated their sense of humor and flexibility, smiling through their slightly melted ice cream sundaes (a special thanks to Painterland Sisters for providing their yogurt for the event!).

Then we all cheered when the power returned around 3pm!

All things considered, it was a beautiful day, catching up with dear friends and companions supporting conservation of the lands and waters that we all love here in Northcentral PA.

On the business side of things, The NPC Membership voted to re-elect Mary Blondy, Terry Johnson, and Julie Weaver for a second term on the Board of Directors, and elect Dr. Mohammed Khalequzzaman for his first full term on the Board of Directors.

NPC Executive Director, Reneé Carey, provided the membership with a recap of their accomplishments over the past year. These included helping to acquire and incorporate two parcels of land into SGL 134, increasing the number of conservation easements held by NPC to 53, and their success improving the health of our local streams.

Looking to the future, Carey shared updates on four conservation easements and two acquisition projects in the works, progress on the Tioga River restoration and other stream projects, and highlighted NPC’s upcoming Forest Bathing workshop at Worlds End State Park.

Thank you to everyone that was able to join us yesterday, and to EVERY single NPC member for your ongoing support!

Learn more about the board members elected at NPC’s 2024 Annual Membership Meeting:

Mary Baumunk Blondy

Mary retired from the world of finance and now spends her days working with the Loyalsock Foundation. She’s spearheading an effort to develop a community wellness center in Laporte. With her children living in North Carolina and Colorado Mary spends time enjoying all the outdoor recreation those two places offer as well as Pennsylvania. 

Terry Johnson

Terry JohnsonTerry is a Certified Public Accountant with a local firm. She’s transitioned from working full-time on audits and corporate taxes to working part-time. She and her husband spend their weekends hiking and kayaking throughout the region. 

Julie Weaver

Julie worked as a geologist for many years before returning to Pennsylvania and working as a science teacher. Over the years she taught at a variety of grade levels before retiring from the Southern Tioga School District. Julie still works as a curriculum consultant and assists the local Intermediate Unit in that area.  

Dr. Mohammed Khalequzzaman (or Dr. K)

Dr. K is a geology professor at Lock Haven University, now Commonwealth University – Lock Haven Campus. He’s taught and researched in the areas of water resources management, water quality, sustainable development, and GIS. Over the years he’s worked with volunteers to study Abandoned Mine Drainage, explored sources of sediment in streams, and kayaked the West Branch Susquehanna to map underwater hazards. Additionally Dr. K is the Global Coordinator for the Bangladesh Environment Network.

Field Journal Friday: VanHorn & VanHorn Homestead Conservation Easements

Together, the VanHorn and VanHorn Homestead Conservation Easements conserve 148 acres in Lycoming County. Donated to NPC by the same owners in the late 1990s, these easements feature mature woodlands and wetlands adjacent to Big Run, a high-quality native trout stream and tributary of Muncy Creek.

On the VanHorn Homestead, a swamp supports a variety of animals, plants, and aquatic life. One unique aspect is its drainage pattern: it flows both east to Lake Run and west into Big Run!

During her annual visit to these conservation easements, Sara spotted a big, green frog perched on a log in the swamp, among other highlights.

Observation #1: Ghost Pipe

Ghost pipe is a native perennial that is all white and can be found growing in clusters up to 8 inches tall across most of the US. Each stem has a single flower. It’s also known by other names such as Indian pipe, corpse plant, or ghost plant. What makes this plant so unique is that it does not contain chlorophyll! Most plants contain chlorophyll, which converts the sunlight into carbohydrates (energy for the plant), this process is known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is also what makes plants green. Lacking chlorophyll, ghost pipes get their carbohydrates and nutrients from tree roots, via their relationship with myccorhizal fungi.

Ghost Pipe

Observation #2: Partridge Berry

Partridge berry is a native, sprawling evergreen vine on the forest floor, found throughout woodlands in the eastern United States. A pair of small, white, fuzzy flowers grow at the end of its creeping stem and produce a single red berry.

Partridge Berry

Observation #3: White Water-Lily

White water-lily – also known as fragrant water lily – this native, aquatic floating flower is accompanied by its round leaves, which grow up to 10” across. Rhizomes and roots anchor each plant to the bottom of the ponds where they are found. The fragrant flowers close at night and on cloudy days. Seeds from the flower are a great source of food for birds and other animals. The flower and lily pads provide habitat for aquatic macroinvertebrates and refuge for small fish

White water-lily

Observation #4: Reishi

Reishi is a large, reddish-brown fungus that grows in a fan-shape from wood, with a lacquered appearance. There are over a dozen species of reishi in the US, all having a very similar appearance. Each species is particular about the trees that they grow from, in the eastern US, they are primarily found growing on eastern hemlock.

Reishi

Observation #5: Green Frog

Green frogs can be found living in lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands in every county of Pennsylvania, and throughout the eastern half of the US. Sometimes mistaken for American bullfrog, size can help differentiate the two species, the American bullfrog is the largest true frog species in eastern North America.

Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Bednar Conservation Easement
Joshi Conservation Easement
Lyons Conservation Easement
Richards Conservation Easement
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

Field Journal Friday: Bednar Conservation Easement

The Bednar conservation easement conserves a variety of habitats, including a small wetland, open fields, old fields reverting to forest, stone walls, and extensive acres of mature forest. These support a wide array of wildlife and plants. The property’s high point offers stunning views across rolling hills and valleys, adding to its scenic appeal.

Here are few of Sara’s finds from her recent visit:

Observation #1: Oak Besma Moth

Oak besma moth (besma quercivoraria) is native to PA and can be found throughout North America.  Its name translates to “oak-eater”. Common in deciduous and mixed woodlands, the larvae feed on leaves of oak, elm, poplar, and willow. Their pale brown lines and speckles create the illusion of tree rings and texture, which is a beneficial camouflage to hide from predators.

Oak Besma Moth

Observation #2: Eastern (red-spotted) Newt

The Eastern (red-spotted) newt has a fascinating life cycle! Seen here in its “Red Eft” stage, this PA native amphibian embarks on a remarkable journey of transformation, that takes it from water, to land, and back to the water!

  • Egg Stage: It all begins as tiny eggs are laid in shallow, freshwater habitats like vernal pools.
  • Larval Stage (Aquatic): Hatching from the eggs, Eastern newt larvae emerge, resembling small tadpoles. They breathe through gills and spend their early days in the water.
  • Red Eft Stage (Terrestrial): After several months, the larvae undergo a transformation into their land-based stage known as “red efts.” The red eft is easily recognizable with its bright orange coloring and rows of black-ringed spots. While that coloration may look pretty to us, it serves as a warning to other animals that these guys are not a tasty snack! They develop lungs for breathing air and begin their adventures exploring the forest floor.
  • Adult Stage (Aquatic): As they mature, red efts transition back to the water. Their skin darkens, and they transform into the adult phase of the Eastern newt. Returning to forest ponds, they spend the rest of their lives in the water, where they reproduce and continue the life cycle.

Observation #3: Sounds of Nature

While observing this mature Eastern (red-spotted) Newt swimming around the pond, Sara heard a chorus of several other species, including a Redwing Blackbird, Ovenbird, Gray Catbird, and the single croak of a green frog.

How many species can you identify by sound in this video?!

Observation #4: Gray Catbird

Gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) are relatively common throughout most of the United States. They are particularly abundant in areas with early successional forests, which include abandoned farmland, thickets of young trees, and dense shrubs. These habitats provide the dense cover and abundant food resources that gray catbirds prefer.

Gray Catbird

Observation #5: Northern Maidenhair Fern

The northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) is easily identifiable by its unique structure, which features pinnae (divisions of compound leaves) forming a nearly perfect horizontal circle. This distinctive arrangement makes it stand out among other ferns. It is a native, deciduous perennial that thrives in cool, moist, and rich woods as well as shaded areas.

Northern Maidenhair Fern
Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Joshi Conservation Easement
Lyons Conservation Easement
Richards Conservation Easement
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

Field Journal Friday: Joshi Conservation Easement

Today, we are exploring NPC’s Joshi conservation easement in Lycoming County. As you may recall from last week, this 87-acre property borders NPC’s Lyons Farm conservation easement. Connecting conserved lands is important because it creates large, continuous areas where animals and plants can live and move around freely. These connected areas help wildlife find food, shelter, and mates. Additionally, these connections help conserve the natural resources that keep the water and air clean for your communities.

Here are a few observations from Sara’s annual visit to the Joshi conservation easement.

Observation #1: Indian Cucumber

Indian cucumber (Medeola virginiana) is native to Pennsylvania and can be commonly found in the state’s forests. It thrives in moist, well-drained soils and shady environments, often under the canopy of mature hardwood trees. The cucumber part of the common name comes from the two to three-inch-long tuberous white root that smells and tastes like cucumbers. Native American tribes in PA traditionally gathered them as food and used the plant for its medicinal properties.

Indian Cucumber

Observation #2: Common Milkweed

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. Monarchs lay their eggs on common milkweed, and when those eggs hatch into caterpillars, they eat the leaves, which contain a compound that makes them toxic to their predators.

Common Milkweed

Observation #3: Web of a Grass Spider

Grass spiders tend to be fast and shy, making it uncommon for them to bite humans. The web of this native Pennsylvania arachnid is seen more often than the spider itself. As you could guess from the name, their webs are often found in the grass, weeds, and other ground cover, in a horizontal orientation.

Web of a Grass Spider
Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Lyons Conservation Easement
Richards Conservation Easement
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

Field Journal Friday: Lyons Farm Conservation Easement

NPC’s Lyons Farm conservation easement helps conserve a variety of natural values – from stream health, to field and woodland habitat, and 20-mile panoramic views! It is a real gem spanning 125-acres in Lycoming county, connected to State Game Lands 226 and NPC’s Joshi conservation easement (more on that visit next week!).

Here are some of Sara’s sightings from her recent annual monitoring visit:

View between the Lyons Farm conservation easement (left) and the Joshi conservation easement (right).

Observation #1: Conservation Connection

The property connects to neighboring conserved lands – NPC’s Joshi conservation easement and State Game Lands 226. This link expands the wildlife corridor, making it easier and safer for animals to move around to find food and mates. In this photo (above) the wood line on the right is the Joshi conservation easement, the field and trees to the left are the Lyons Farm conservation easement.

Observation #2: American Toad

The American Toad is the most common toad species in Pennsylvania, occurring in all 67 counties. They primarily nocturnal, spending most of their day hiding under leaves and rocks and can often be found near sources of water during the spring mating season.

Huckleberry

Observation #3: Huckleberry

Huckleberries are an edible fruit, similar in both taste and appearance to blueberries. So similar in fact, that they are difficult for many people to distinguish the difference. Huckleberry seeds are more noticeable when eating the fruit, than seeds of a blueberry. Blueberries tend to be larger and more densely clustered than huckleberries. Both make delicious trail snacks and pies!

Cup Fungi (NOT edible)

Observation #4: Cup Fungi

Peziza, a sizable genus of saprophytic cup fungi, derives its nutrients from deceased and decomposing matter. These fungi can often be found growing on the ground, decaying wood, or even animal dung.

Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Richards Conservation Easement
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

Montoursville Area High School Students Help Recycle Eclipse Glasses

Thank you to the Montoursville Area High School Environmental Club for helping the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) with the eclipse glasses recycling process!

Before shipping the glasses to Astronomers Without Borders, they needed to be sorted by color and manufacturer. Over the past several weeks, the students in this club took time out of their busy schedules to sort over 1,200 glasses!

“It is a great way to get students involved, earn hours for the club, and learn why it is important to recycle the glasses.”

Cody Pavlick, the club’s advisor and Montoursville Area High School science teacher

Now, the glasses are ready to be shipped out and ultimately donated to other users to safely view future eclipses in other parts of the world.

Learn more about this initiative!

Field Journal Friday: Richards Conservation Easement

The picturesque, 21-acre ‘Richards’ conservation easement in Sullivan County helps conserve the health of the Loyalsock Creek and the scenic views from the popular Loyalsock Trail.

Conserving the land around the Loyalsock Creek is important because it helps maintain the health of the creek and the surrounding environment. By conserving the trees, plants, and natural habitats along the creek banks, we can prevent soil erosion, filter pollutants, and maintain clean water for drinking and recreation.

Here’s a look at some of the plant life that Sara came across during her annual monitoring visit at the Richards conservation easement.

Observation #1: Clubmoss

There are over 400 species of clubmoss. Clubmoss is commonly found in moist, shaded areas throughout Pennsylvania’s forests and woodlands. These small, evergreen plants are known for their branching stems and tiny, scale-like leaves. Despite their name, clubmosses are not true mosses but belong to a group of primitive plants called Lycophytes.

Clubmoss

Observation #2: False Helebore

Here’s a native perennial that you’ll want to be aware of on the trails, as its toxic to humans and animals if ingested!  False hellebore is easily identified by the heavy parallel veins on the leaves and can grow up to 7’ tall. False hellebore is common in Pennsylvania wetlands and blooms in the summer.

False helebore found in PA’s forests and wetlands.

Observation #3: Heartleaf Foamflower

Heartleaf foamflower, also known as Tiarella cordifolia, is a charming native plant found in Pennsylvania’s woodlands and shady areas. This low-growing, native perennial adds a touch of beauty to forest flowers with its heart-shaped leaves and clusters of delicate, white or pink blossoms. The finely textured, tiny flowers resemble foam, making it easy to remember its common name.

Pollinators love Heartleaf foamflower

Observation #4: Mountain Wood Sorrel

Mountain Wood Sorrel, also known as Oxalis montana, is a dainty, native wildflower to Pennsylvania’s mountainous regions. It’s easily recognized by its trifoliate leaves, which resemble shamrocks, that fold down at night or during dry conditions to help conserve moisture. It’s delicate white and pink flowers are also popular amongst pollinators.

Mountain Wood Sorrel is easily recognized by its shamrock-shaped leaves.

Observation #5: Trillium

The trillium here is not in bloom, as their blooming season has ended. It is still important to note their appearance, to not disturb this sensitive, slow growing, native plant.

Trillium not in bloom.
Catch up on other Field Journal Friday entries:
Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement
Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements
Blackwell Conservation Easement

Rivers Month in PA:  Come On In, the Water is Nice!

With summer starting and the weather getting hotter, many people in Pennsylvania head to rivers and streams to cool off and have fun. June is the perfect time to celebrate ‘Rivers Month’ in Pennsylvania! With over 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, Pennsylvania has plenty to offer. Whether you like boating, swimming, fishing, or just relaxing by the water, there’s something for everyone.

Paddlers prepare to hit the water on the Paddle Happy West Branch Susquehanna River trip!

Creating and Enhancing Access to our Waterways

Here in Northcentral PA, members of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) have been working hard to make it easier for people to enjoy these activities. Here are just a few of the conservation projects they’ve helped complete:

Baker Run

Conserving the Baker Run area created a new spot for canoeing or kayaking on the West Branch Susquehanna River. Baker Run flows into the Susquehanna River, between Lock Haven and Renovo. The stretch of the West Branch Susquehanna from Hyner to Woodward Township’s Park is about 21 miles long. Conserving this land and setting up the launch made it easier for people to paddle this section of the river.

The Baker Run Canoe Launch provides easy access to the West Branch Susquehanna River.

Byers Island

The Byers Island archipelago consists of six islands in the Susquehanna River. NPC members conserved this chain of islands in 2006 before helping to incorporate them into the Weiser State Forest. Today, paddlers can camp overnight on the islands at three basic campsites kept up by the Susquehanna River Trail Association.

Three primitive campsites are available for public use on Byers Island archipelago.

Harrigan Island

Harrigan Island is in the Susquehanna River near Athens. The original owners encouraged canoe travelers to camp on the island. To ensure others could enjoy this simple pleasure for years to come, they worked with NPC to conserve the land. Today, Harrigan Island is part of the Loyalsock State Forest and continues to be a popular stopover for paddlers!

A faint rainbow overtop of Harrigan Island.

Phelps Mills Canoe Access

For years, people used this site on the Avis side of the Route 150 Bridge over Pine Creek for paddling, fishing, and swimming. When the property was for sale and at risk of development, NPC bought and conserved it for the public. NPC also got grant funding to improve the walking path and parking area, making it easier for people to enjoy Pine Creek. The site is now part of the Tiadaghton State Forest.

The ribbon cutting ceremony unveils improvements at the Phelps Mills Canoe Access.

Conserving the Health of Our Rivers

Beyond recreation, healthy rivers provide habitat, drinking water, replenish groundwater, help moderate floods and droughts, support forest health, and more!

Stream health is important for river health because streams feed into rivers. Anything that enters a stream—like pollutants, nutrients, or sediment—will flow into larger rivers.

As part of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, NPC members are helping to conserve and strengthen the health of our rivers by stabilizing eroding streambanks and improving aquatic habitat on agriculturally impaired streams across the region.

In fact, the Partnership’s sustained efforts have been so successful that two streams in the Turtle Creek Watershed were recently removed, or “delisted,” from PA’s list of impaired waters. This shows that working together, we can make a difference in restoring the health of our rivers.

Celebrate National Trails Day on the Butternut Trail

Trickling brooks! Big rock outcroppings! A great view of the Loyalsock Creek!

Sound nice?!

You can experience all this and more on the Butternut Trail in Worlds End State Park! This popular loop trail goes through NPC’s Flynn acquisition. If you’ve never hiked it before, here’s what you can expect!

The 2.5-mile Butternut Trail makes a loop through a northern hardwood forest. It starts just past the State Park Visitors Center on the east side of the Cabin Bridge. There’s a small parking lot on the left near the trailhead.

Get ready to climb! The trail starts off steep but then levels out at a split where the loop begins. The Upper Road to the left follows an old logging road, while the Lower Road to the right runs parallel to the Loyalsock Creek.

If you take the Lower Road, you’ll go up a moderate hill into the woods, then down to Butternut Run, a small stream with many waterfalls. Along the way, you’ll pass several springs and get a great view of the Loyalsock Creek. When you reach Butternut Run, you’ll have to cross it on foot because there’s no bridge. The stream may be little more than a trickle, but after a heavy rain, crossing might be harder!

After crossing the stream, the trail goes up again, getting rockier and steeper with switchbacks. Enjoy the cool rock formations along the way!

At the top, enjoy the views, then follow the orange blazes to finish the loop. On the second half of the hike, you’ll cross another section of Butternut Run, go through several clearings, and see more wildflowers and streams.

In 1993, NPC bought over 600 acres of forest land that form the northern and eastern edges of Worlds End State Park. This purchase gave people access to the land and allowed the creation of the Butternut Trail, thanks to longtime NPC member Ruth Rode. It also helped conserve a mile of the Loyalsock Trail, which would have had to be moved otherwise.

These 600+ acres are now part of the Loyalsock State Forest, making sure everyone can enjoy the Butternut Trail for years to come!