Tag Archives: 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

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

Field Journal Friday: Logue-McMahon Conservation Easement

Nestled between Muncy Heritage Park and the West Branch Susquehanna River, sits NPC’s Logue-McMahon conservation easement. On this Field Journal Friday we’re exploring some of the conservation values that this 20-acre easement upholds.

Observation #1: History

The historic Pennsylvania canal, which operated from 1827 to 1839 is part of the Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail, which bisects the conservation easement. Interpretive signs can be found throughout the park, highlighting the historical and environmental significance of the area. While the easement itself is not open to the public, visitors can still enjoy the farm, wetland, and forested views of the easement from the Park’s trail.

The Logue-McMahon easement also conserves a historic farmhouse, built around 1795, which is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Additionally, farming continues to thrive on the property, with row crops like corn being grown on the fertile soils.

Observation #2: Wildlife Habitat

On the section of the easement east of the canal lays a large wetland that provides food and habitat for ducks, geese, fish, frogs, turtles and other wildlife.

Chokecherry can also be found throughout the easement. This native, understory tree is an important food source for wildlife in the summer, and the fragrant white flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Observation #3: Susquehanna River

The forested riparian buffer helps prevent riverbank erosion and keeps nutrients from entering the West Branch Susquehanna River, contributing to the health of the river and everywhere else downstream.

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

Field Journal Friday: Zaner, Overlook & Power Dam Conservation Easements

On this Field Journal Friday edition, we’re taking a walk around the Zaner, Overlook and Power Dam conservation easements.

What ties these three properties together? They are all under the ownership of the Fishing Creek Sportsmen’s Association (FCSA)!

Observation #1: Fishing Creek Sportsmen’s Association

The FCSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and maintaining great trout fishing on Fishing Creek and several other Columbia County waterways.

In 2007, NPC collaborated with FCSA to establish easements on these collective 93-acres. These easements help to ensure public access to Fishing Creek, which remains a beloved destination for anglers and the wider community alike.

In cooperation with the PA Fish & Boat Commission, FCSA raises about 25,000 trout annually to stock these local waters and supports several community fishing derbies – including their own upcoming event on June 2, 2024.   

Observation #2: Dutchman’s Breeches

These easements contain a floodplain forest that is home to several species of spring wildflowers, including Dutchman’s Breeches. This native perennial has charming, early blooms resembling tiny pairs of pants, or breeches! While its delicate flowers might not last in a vase on your dining table (they wilt as soon as they are picked), they bring ephemeral beauty to the wilds!

Dutchman’s Breeches

Observation #3: Witch Hazel

Witch hazel, with its distinctive bright yellow, slender petals, is easily recognizable. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this versatile plant boasts numerous medicinal applications. Today, it’s a common ingredient in cosmetics and is prized for its ability to soothe skin irritations. 

Witch Hazel

Observation #4: Power Dam Remnants

The Power Dam property boasts more than 2,900 feet of creek frontage and holds the remnants of a concrete dam. This dam once served the crucial function of providing water to a millrace, which in turn supplied a small electric generating station. These remnants offer a tangible link to the area’s industrial past, highlighting the role of waterways in powering early infrastructure and development.

Remnants of a concrete dam in fishing creek.

NPC Partners with Local Sportsman to Conserve 64 Acres in Columbia County

A true sportsman understands and champions conservation.  In fact, hunters have been some of the conservation movement’s biggest advocates since the beginning.  After all, it was President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter himself, who went on to create the United States Forest Service and conserved approximately 230 million acres of public land.  Roosevelt recognized that in utilizing the country’s natural resources, we also had a responsibility to ensure that those same resources were sustainable for generations to come.  He wrote, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” 

This past year, the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) had the opportunity to work with a like-minded sportsman committed to doing his part through the conservation of his 64-acre property in Columbia County.  The landowner grew up hunting in the Berwick area, and through friendly connections had the opportunity to hunt this particular plot of land on Knob Mountain Road in Briar Creek Township over the years.  Sitting at the base of Knob Mountain, this stretch of land acts as a highway for white-tailed deer, turkey, bear, and other wildlife.  As the landowner explains it, the neighboring farmland is the “refrigerator”, the mountain to the north is the “bedroom,” and the property serves as the “hallway,” connecting the habitat for the wildlife to roam.  So when the property came up for sale in 2004, he jumped at the opportunity to call this piece of woodland his own.

The woodland on the Knob Mountain easement serves as the “hallway,” connecting the habitat for the wildlife to roam. 

He quickly set to work stewarding the land and enhancing the wildlife habitat.  He worked with a forester to develop and implement a forest management plan, collaborated with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to create wetlands, installed nesting boxes, conducted timber stand improvement activities, built brush piles for wildlife, and planted trees.  And while he connected himself more and more to the land, he created opportunities for others to connect as well.  Just as those had done for him in past, he invited friends and family to traverse and hunt the land with him.  It became a place of respite for a military friend on leave.  A learning ground for the grandson of a dear friend.  A cultivator for friendships and bonds forged like none other than during hunting season.

Wetlands on the Knob Mountain conservation easement provide food, water, and shelter for a variety of species.

Places with the ability to connect people with the land and with each other are special like that.  Knowing that he wanted to conserve the wildlife habitat for generations to enjoy beyond his lifetime, he thought back to a conversation he had with NPC Executive Director, Renee’ Carey, nearly 15 years ago.  At that time, the landowner was a member of the Fishing Creek Sportsmen’s Association.  The Association worked with NPC to establish conservation easements to ensure public access to Fishing Creek.  With that positive experience in mind, the landowner reached out to NPC to explore donating his land into a conservation easement with NPC as well.

Fast forward to December of 2023, the ‘Knob Mountain’ conservation easement is officially a part of the landowner and NPC’s legacies! 

The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) is a land trust devoted to conserving and enhancing the lands and waters of Northcentral Pennsylvania to support the environmental well-being and recreational needs of local communities. They operate in 12 counties and take on a variety of conservation projects, including working with private landowners to establish conservation easements. Thanks to the generosity of its members and donors, NPC has conserved over 5,400 acres across 52 properties through its conservation easement program. You can help support NPC’s initiatives and make a difference by donating today.