Raise the Region 2018

NPC is participating in the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania (FCFP)’s Raise the Region® 2018. FCFP, in partnership with Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships, will be launching a 30-hour fundraising event beginning on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 6:00 PM through midnight on Thursday, March 15, 2018. You can support NPC with an online gift, and your gift will be stretched by a generous contribution from Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships.  All gifts are tax deductible, are made to the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, and will be acknowledged by FCFP for tax purposes.


You can donate by visiting the Raise the Region website and selecting Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (this text should link).


Location, Location, Location

Where you place your bird feeder will impact who visits your bird feeder. Birds like cover. You’ll want the feeder to be within 10 feet of some trees or shrubs. This will allow the birds to check things out before venturing to the feeder.

You should also think about a water source for the birds visiting your bird feeder. In the winter, water can be especially hard to find. A birdbath, or other shallow container can work well for birds needing a drink or a bath.

Something to keep in mind with both your bird feeder and birdbath is while you want some shrubs nearby, if there’s too much cover, your cat (or your neighbor’s) will find the shrubbery a great place to hide and wait for birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 1,400,000 and 3,700,000,000 birds are killed annually by cats. That’s a really big number. So, keep cats in mind when placing your feeders.

A problem at bird feeders is squirrels. There are a lot of theories on how to keep squirrels out of your feeder, but Dr. Margaret Brittingham at Penn State University notes, “You are trying to attract birds to your feeder, but inevitably the squirrels will come too. Some people enjoy watching squirrels, while others consider them pests.”

Cavanaugh Access Begins

When you think of NPC does the word “agile” come to mind?  How about “speedy,” or “fast?”  Well, all of those words could be used to describe the latest project NPC’s members and donors are making possible.

The Pine Creek Rail Trail runs for 62 miles from Wellsboro Junction to Jersey Shore using the rail bed that once hauled celery, lumber, and ginseng to market. The Trail is popular with tourists, Boy Scout Troops earning bicycling badges, and local residents staying healthy by biking and walking.

One need at the northern end of the Trail is for more access and for rest areas. People have said they’d like to have a place they can sit and watch wildlife, as well as just taking a break to enjoy the day.  In this stretch the Trail runs along Marsh Creek and a large wetland complex (known as the Muck). The Trail is bordered on both sides by private land with the Bureau of Forestry in charge of maintaining the Trail.

Back in October there was an opportunity to purchase 132 acres along the Trail. The property was being sold at a court ordered auction. When the Tioga State Forest staff saw the auction sign they quickly called their central office in Harrisburg to see if there would be some way to buy this property.

Staff from Forestry’s central office called NPC’s office.  There isn’t a way for the state to attend an auction and buy properties. The rules, systems, and laws in place require various state offices and  state departments to review sales contracts for real estate. As you can imagine it takes time for these multiple reviews to take place.

NPC talked to the staff from Harrisburg on a Monday. The auction was set for a Thursday.  Yep, NPC had 72 hours (almost to the minute) to figure out if the property had conservation value and if NPC could buy it.

Because of the support NPC receives from its members and donors, the organizational systems were in place that allowed staff to research the conservation values, visit the property to document its condition, gain board approval of the project and authorization to bid, attend the auction, and be the high bidder!!!

57 days after that initial conversation with Forestry’s Harrisburg staff, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy took title to an amazing 132 acres!!

With the continued support from our members and donors we’re now working toward conveying the property to the Bureau of Forestry and preparing the property to become an access point to the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

The property’s ecological features include wetlands along Marsh Creek. The wetlands are extensive, fed by Canada Run, and close to wooded areas. This allows wildlife to use the wetlands and Creek by moving from the forest to the stream and wetlands and back.

Marsh Creek is a major tributary to Pine Creek. Marsh Creek meanders and bends through this property for nearly one mile. This Creek and its associated wetlands are a huge sponge that provide water year round that helps keep Pine Creek’s water cooler in the summer.

The Bureau of Forestry plans to create a parking area and access to the Pine Creek Rail Trail. A few benches will be added to the property to allow bikers, hikers, walkers and wanderers a place to sit rest, and enjoy the day. Forestry will eventually create a walking trail to allow people to see more of the wetlands, and hopefully see more wildlife.

There is some work to do before the property becomes useable as the Cavanaugh Access. There is household debris on the site and a house that isn’t in great shape. These need to be cleaned up and removed from the property before a parking area, benches and walking trails can be constructed.

But, we’ve come a LONG way in the last 57 days.  Thank you for making this project possible. It really is because of your membership support and donations over the years that NPC could help take this possibility and make it a reality.

If you’d like to donate to the project and help get the site ready for public access, please click here.

The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.  The official registration and financial information of the  Conservancy may be obtained from the PA Department of State by calling toll-free within PA 1-800-732-0999.  Registration does not imply endorsement.

Nichols Run Conservation Easement Completed

Nichols Run_2015Northcentral Pennsylvania is characterized by its fields and, especially, by its forests. Because they are widespread features of the landscape it may sometime be difficult to see the need to protect these vital resources. But subdivision, fragmentation and conversion to other uses continue to threaten the economic and ecological viability of our forests and agriculture and the quality of all of our lives.

Recently another portion of the region’s intact woodland was forever protected from subdivision when 155 acres in western Lycoming County were conserved by the donation of a conservation easement to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Nichols Run 2015 (13)Although portions of the property had once been farmed, most of the soils are more suitable to growing trees than crops and active farming ended many years ago. Now those old fields are reverting to woodland to join the more than 100 forested acres that were not cleared for agriculture. The wooded acres are very diverse: mixed oak and hickory forests predominate, but there are also areas dominated by hemlock, white pine, birch and maple woodland.

However, it’s not just woodland that makes this property special, there’s also over 3,600 feet of Nichols Run, designated a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery. Nichols Run is a tributary of Pine Creek and flows into the larger stream just west of Jersey Shore. Special protection has been afforded to the woodland Nichols Run 2015 (2)bordering the stream and its unnamed tributaries to protect water quality and the aquatic life in the waterway.

As it passes through the newly conserved property, Nichols Run Road is a very scenic drive and the woodland along over 4,000 of the road was also guaranteed special protection to protect its scenic qualities.

NPC and residents of northcentral Pennsylvania will forever be grateful to the landowners who had the foresight to protect this beautiful property that helps to filter our water, cleanse our air, provide wildlife habitat, yield forest products and enhance the beauty of our area.

Mexico Road Property Conserved!

No, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) is not greatly expanding its coverage area, this Mexico Road is in northcentral Pennsylvania’s Montour County.

Mexico Road_Chilisquaque CreekChillisquaque Creek originates in the Muncy Hills on the Lycoming/Columbia County line, but for most of its length passes through Montour County before it finally flows into the Susquehanna River’s West Branch south of Milton. Unfortunately, for much of its length the stream is heavily impacted by agriculture.

The Montour County Conservation District has been actively working with landowners along the Creek and its tributaries to reduce the agricultural impacts and improve water quality. Many of these projects have been done through the stream restoration partnership NPC is involved with.

Mexico Road_Wheat FieldNow, with the finalization of a conservation easement on a 46 acre property with frontage on Chillisquaque Creek in Montour County NPC has acted to protect a portion of the stream. The property contains seven acres of prime agricultural soils and 37 acres of agricultural soils of statewide importance; the fields have been leased to a neighboring farmer and will remain in agricultural production.

There are approximately five acres of woodland on an excellent growing site that comprise a riparian buffer between the cropland and Chillisquaque Creek. Riparian buffers such as this protect water quality by filtering out the silt and chemicals before they enter the stream.

The easement donor’s family has owned the property for many years, although he has lived out-of-state. But, he felt it was time to move on in life and pass the property on to someone else. At the same time, housing development has been moving into what had been an area of family farms, and the owner wanted to insure that the property would not become part of a roadside housing development.

Now there is a conservation easement on the property held by NPC and the easement donor will be selling the property to a nearby farmer who is enlarging his operations. The conservation easement’s limit on development made the property more affordable for agricultural purposes. The conservation easement requires use of best management practices on cropland and protects the existing riparian buffer.

It’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today is National Squirrel Appreciation Day! While many people find it hard to appreciate squirrels because of the way squirrels can raid birdfeeders, think about a squirrel’s ability to move a forest…

The gray squirrel, or Sciurus carolinensis, eats mostly mast – acorns, hickory nuts, beech nuts, etc. During the late summer and fall months squirrels gather these tree seeds and bury them for use as a winter food source. It is estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand of these caches each year. Often, the squirrel doesn’t come back for the food store, so the tree seed sprouts and a new tree begins to grow.

Adult gray squirrels can grow to 20 inches in length and weigh about 1 pound. Nearly half their length is made up of their broad bushy tail. That tail allows them to perform many of their balancing feats as they leap from tree to tree. They also use their tails as a blanket in the winter; wrapping it around them to help keep them warm.

Gray Squirrel (1)Gray squirrels are also one of the few mammals who can descend a tree head first. To do this, it turns the paws of its hind feet backward and uses its toenails to grip the tree.

Check out the Smithsonian’s North American Mammals website for more information, photos, and maps about the gray squirrel

Organizational Endowment Created

The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) and First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania (FCFP) are pleased to announce a new organizational endowment fund. The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy Fund will be a permanent funding source for NPC where FCFPP annually grants a portion of the investment income to NPC.

“NPC has been talking about an organizational endowment fund for several years now. We were fortunate to have one of our members make a very generous gift to start the Fund. We’ve been working with our members to conserve working farms and working forests since 1990. This Fund is a great way to kick off the year celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary,” said Mel Lewis, Chair of the NPC Board of Directors.

fcfp-horizontal-logoJennifer D. Wilson, FCFP President and CEO said, “The First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania is honored that NPC chose to work with us. It means that for generations to come there will be a permanent stream of income to support NPC’s mission and vision.”

NPC’s members and donors have provided the resources necessary to conserve over 11,000 acres. Through membership dues, Year End Appeal contributions, attending Celebrity Waiter Night, and participating in other fundraisers our members and donors have contributed the money to operate NPC and work on land protection projects. The organizational endowment will be another mechanism to fund operations and additional land protection work.

FCFP has expertise in a variety of giving methods and now brings that expertise to NPC’s supporters. The First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania works regionally and locally to bring together people, partners and places to grow local giving and investment, strengthen area organizations and results, and take on the critical issues and efforts needed to build vibrant communities and a thriving north central Pennsylvania region.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy Fund with the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania should contact Reneé Carey at NPC’s office by calling 570-323-6222 or emailing her at rcarey@npcweb.org.

Happy Holidays from NPC…


Have a wonderful holiday season! As you celebrate with friends and family, and reflect on 2014 we wanted to share a few photos from 2014’s conservation easement stewardship visits, stream restoration projects, and the newest conservation easement. Enjoy the photos and your holiday! May you have a healthy and happy 2015!

Left column – top to bottom
June 19, 2014 – Robwood Mountain, located to the southeast of Towanda in Bradford County, is the location of a large property protected by a conservation easement held by NPC. During the monitoring visit I came upon the largest wild butternut I’ve ever seen. The tree was located in a deep hollow on the moist fertile soil that butternut prefers. Unfortunately, an apparently exotic fungus disease – butternut canker – that often girdles and kills the trees is heavily affecting butternut throughout its range. In most areas over 75% of butternut trees are infected and most infected trees die within 15 years.

Butternut is now considered “a species at risk” in the United States. Butternut wood has been a favorite of carvers and cabinetmakers and may soon be unavailable for commercial use. This tree on Robwood Mountain has a few small cankers and, unfortunately, may not be alive much longer.

April 17, 2014 –Fossil Farm Easement – In a plantation of young Norway spruce a kestrel was perched on the leader of the tallest spruce in the vicinity. While the landowner and I walked along the edge of the planting, it flew from spruce to spruce until finally circling around to land on a tree behind us. The tall grasses and goldenrod among the planted spruce provide excellent habitat for meadow voles that frequently girdle planted trees beneath winter snow – the kestrel protects those trees at no cost to the landowner by feeding on the voles.

May 13, 2014 – Carl Barlett, recently retired NPC Board member, and I inspected the Oak Meadow Farm easement on a gray rainy morning. As we walked up the lane a large bird perched in a tree overhanging the lane caught our eye. At first I thought it was a red-tailed hawk, but the camera’s telephoto lens revealed it to be a mature bald eagle. A few steps to bring us closer caused the bird to spread its wing and take flight – right over our heads. There’s a pond on the property and other ponds nearby; still it was not the kind of place an eagle would normally be found.
Middle column – top to bottom
August 6, 2014 – Today’s Field Tour on Turtle Creek was a success! Over 100 people, mostly Amish and Mennonite attended. Many of the farmers brought their sons and daughters along, so we were able to educate the current land managers, and start educating the future land managers.

July 15, 2014 – NPC’s summer intern Lilly went with me to inspect the Dickey Farm conservation easement. The property is partially cropland, but is primarily forested. As we walked along a woods road we flushed a fledgling wood thrush from a patch of fern. The young bird flew up to land on a branch in a nearby tree. Wood thrush are forest interior birds, dependent on fairly large parcels of undisturbed forest. They build their nests on limbs of understory trees, usually less than ten feet above the ground. Wood thrushes migrate to Mexico and Central America where they spend the winter.

Pennsylvania’s wood thrush population seems to have declined by more than 25% since the 1980s, probably due to habitat loss from development and forest fragmentation. NPC’s conservation easements’ forests help to protect the forest habitat needed by forest interior birds like wood thrush.

May 20, 2014 – Pinkster azalea is a native shrub that brightens portions of northcentral Pennsylvania’s woodlands each spring. Unfortunately, it can be heavily browsed by white-tailed deer, so its pink blossoms are becoming increasingly scarce. The Morgan Valley Road easement is blessed with a number of these shrubs, most in the wooded stonerows separating fields or on the border of field and forest. One large pinkster was graced by a tiger swallowtail butterfly that flew from flower to flower feeding on the nectar it found in the flowers’ corolla.
September 4, 2014 – The Scott easement is the property where I usually see a host of purple trillium; but they bloom in May and this year’s inspection was much too late for blooming trilliums. September is the time when beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) bloom and the forest had a lot of beechdrops in bloom. Beechdrops are flowering plants without chlorophyll in their tiny scale-like leaves and therefore aren’t green. Instead of manufacturing their own food they’re parasitic on the roots of beech trees, but do not harm the trees. The small inconspicuous flowers of beechdrops are normally off-white with a red lengthwise stripe – but on this day, along a woods road, grew a yellow beechdrops plant. In 50 years of wandering the forests, never before have I seen a yellow beechdrops.

Right column – top to bottom
October 9, 2014 – In southwest Bradford County the Shedden conservation easement borders Towanda Creek. Not far north of the property the Tennessee natural gas pipeline right-of-way has been widened to accommodate a second pipeline used to transport gas extracted from the Marcellus shale. Widening the right-of-way impacted a number of wetlands and those impacts had to be mitigated to Corps of Engineers’ standards. The mitigation contractor contacted the easement landowner and NPC about installing a riparian buffer on the conserved property as part of the mitigation project. After review NPC agreed that installing a riparian buffer of trees and shrubs on the previously pastured bank of Towanda Creek would help to improve the stream’s water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Earlier this year the plantings were completed and today’s inspection showed that survival of the plantings was very good.

November 18, 2014 – As NPC’s Technical Committee was evaluating the John F. Logue property we came upon a large straight tree with a long fresh scar from top to root. The tree was a black cherry, typically the most valuable species in a woodland dominated by a northern hardwood forest (usually called beech-birch-maple). The scar was caused by a lightning strike from a passing thunderstorm. Tree species vary in their susceptibility to being struck by lightning with black cherry being near the top of the list as is Pennsylvania’s state tree – eastern hemlock. The committee also discussed the large grape vine in the tree’s top. Many people think that grapes climb high into the tree tops. However that’s not the case: the grape and the tree both start out together as seedlings. Over the years, as the tree grows taller the grape vine keeps pace and can maintain its position in the tree’s top. Eventually as the grape vine get heavier and/or its leaves shade the tree excessively the tree may die either from breaking under the weight or, unable to produce enough sugars and starches, die from too much shade
April 17, 2014 – The Fossil Farm Easement was named for the outcrop of fossiliferous rock at its highest point. But there are other interesting features on the property – The dam of an abandoned beaver pond still holds back some water and there a green heron was foraging. As we watched it repeatedly lunged at prey, catching a small fish and other things too small to identify.

John F. Logue Conservation Easement Completed

Another 109.5 acres in Lycoming County’s Cascade Township were conserved through the on-going support of our members and the generous donation by landowners Genevieve Neff Logue and Matthew and Kimberly (Logue) Smargiasso.

For decades, the Logues drove from their home in northwest Pennsylvania to Williamsport for family visits. During those visits, Genevieve and her late husband, John “Jack” F. Logue, Jr. – Williamsport natives – and their son Kevin, daughter Kim and son-in-law Matt, would sometimes head north to hike the former Charles and Catherine (McCrystal) Logue property. Jack provided the commentary about Cascade Twp. and childhood visits to this place—his grandparents’ farm.

Locating the homestead’s small stone foundation and a nearby spring, spotting the apple tree and lilac, admiring broad stone walls crafted by Irish Catholic hands, appreciating the wetlands, and taking in the long view at the top of Frymire Road were all part of the outings.

This land is where Jack’s father John F. Logue, Sr., his uncle Vincent Logue, and a special aunt Katherine Logue Kilby grew up. Cascade Twp. was a place where Jack’s extended family lived and gathered. It was a magical place for him, an only child who lived a long 25 miles away in the city of Williamsport. It was open space to ramble, observe, think, and daydream. It fed the soul and shaped the man.

It turned out he wasn’t the only one who loved that land. It has remained in the family as one contiguous tract thanks to his aunt Katherine first and then to Jack and Genevieve. Katherine and Jack seemed to share an unspoken “leave the surface alone” philosophy.

Legacy. That’s what prompted Kim and Matt to travel from Mercer County to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) office to ask about conservation easements. Their first exposure to the easement concept came through more than 30 years of membership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. (Sometimes conservancy organizations are working together and don’t even realize it!) Genevieve, who is 88 and no longer travels, was on board with the idea of a conservation easement…as long and Kim and Matt took the lead. And they did. Knowledge of options, a mission to conserve the tract as Kim’s father had done for decades, and respect for ancestry quickly gelled into a plan.

The rolling and irregular property has changed a bit over the decades. Stonewalls, a trademark of Irish homesteads in the area, still exist. However, the property is no longer recognizable as a farm. The fields have been gradually reverting to woodland. Trees have matured and some areas have always been wooded. The forest consists of a mixture of northern hardwoods, including beech, birch, cherry, oak and maple, and associated species. Some light timbering in one area was done in 2011 in accordance with the property’s Forest Stewardship Plan. A variety of ferns have grown; deer have prospered; a short walking trail was created.

The property contains several wetlands including an abandoned beaver pond that is now approximately five acre wetland. The property’s springs and wetlands contribute to an Logue 2014 (6)un-named tributary of Wallis Run flowing through the property. Wallis Run is an EV (Exceptional Value) designated waterway in Pennsylvania. The water from this property eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay, whose protection and restoration is a multi-state priority.

The family didn’t fully realize the significance of the water resources on their Lycoming County property until November 2014 when Kim and Matt joined NPC staff, interns, and the technical committee to walk the land and then discuss it. By conserving this property, the landowners are helping to protect not only this region’s water quality but also that of the Susquehanna River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. During the meeting, NPC staff members were also able to relay to the landowners the importance of preventing erosion and siltation as well as overly compacted soil that can be caused by disturbances, including ATV use and horseback riding.

Before he died in 2009, John F. Logue, Jr. talked to Kim about his lucky life. He became a professional musician, mathematician, teacher, and computer programmer / systems analyst. Hearkening to his childhood appreciation of open space and with Genevieve’s willingness and capable assistance, he also added gentleman sheep farmer to the list. The Mercer County property grew to include fields, pastures, and woodlands with a ravine and small creek. It was an ideal setting for their kids and the neighborhood kids to explore, play, and embrace the natural world. And they did. And it shaped them too. The Logue family believes that this easement is yet another opportunity to inspire future generations to respect and appreciate the natural world.

On a Cold Day in November…NPC Volunteers Take to the Field

Logue 2014 (6)Northcentral Pennsylvania was colder than average yesterday, November 18, 2014. Depending on the weather site/forecaster you follow we were somewhere around 20 degrees colder than normal without factoring in the windchill.

A hearty group of volunteers that didn’t let the cold weather deter them. : – ) Tom, Alice, Butch, Jerry, Mel, Mark, Zach, Lily, and Dennis trudged around a property with Charlie and me (Renee’). To provide comments and feedback on the property’s conservation values – the water resources, wildlife habitat, forest resources, and scenic resources.

The photo at the top of the page were taken along the stream. It’s a small unnamed stream. There is also a wetland on the property and several seeps.

While it wasn’t the ideal time of year to look for macroinvertebrates (bugs), Mel still did. : – ) Taking his gloves off, he started picking up rocks to look at their bottom side.  Many macroinvertebrates attach, in some way, to rocks on the stream bottom.

He also looked at what kind of rocks and woody debris are on the bottom. The rock type will determine what kind of macroinvertebrates (macros) can live there, and also what other aquatic wildlife can live there. The woody debris is a food source for many macros.

Here’s why Mel was looking for macros:
+Macros are affected by the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the stream.
+Since macros live in the stream they show the effects of short-and long-term pollution events, as well as the cumulative impacts of pollution.
+Macros are pretty close to the bottom of the foodchain and are a critical part of the stream’s foodchain. The macros present, help you understand what larger aquatic wildlife may be in the stream.
+Macros are easy to sample and identify (some of Mel’s students may disagree with the second part of this).

Thank you to Mel and everyone else for coming out on a cold day. There wasn’t a single complaint about being cold!! There were a few comments on Charlie’s hat, but that’s to be expected. : – )