Tag Archives: conservation

NPC Members Help Conserve 29-Acres in Tioga County

Introducing the Brucklacher Conservation Easement

Just a few miles outside of the northern tier town of Wellsboro, PA, sits the 138-acre homestead of Barry and Jane Brucklacher. Originally a dairy farm, the sprawling hayfields are still productive today, harvested by a local farmer to support a mushroom grower in Kennett Square, PA. A woodland of aspen, beech, maple, and oak trees provide food and shelter for white-tailed deer, bears, bobcats, and a variety of other native wildlife. A network of trails meander through the woodland by two ponds and a winding stream on its way to Elk Creek. On the outskirts of the property, a portion of the popular Mid State Trail cuts through, providing hikers with picturesque views of the Tioga County countryside. A trio of donkeys – Jesse James, Tyrone, and Adabel – graze in the pasture. The original barn stores equipment, with the top floor converted to serve as a maternity roost for little brown bats, whose population has experienced a severe decline in the past decade.

Having bought the property in 1972, the Brucklachers enjoy simple strolls around the grounds together and continue to be grateful for the opportunity to own such a special place. With thoughts of the future, they decided to seek out options to conserve the wildlife habitat, biodiversity, farmland, and natural resources on their property for generations to come.

Jane and Barry Brucklacher donate a 29-acre conservation easement to NPC.

Initially, they enrolled 103 acres of their property in the Tioga County Agricultural Farmland Preservation Program. However, they still had hopes to conserve even more of the property. Fortunately, a like-minded neighbor shared her experience with the Brucklachers of conserving her family farm with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC).

A Conservation Easement Agreement with NPC is a voluntary, legally binding agreement between a landowner and NPC regarding the use of a property. Most often, these agreements allow for forest management, agricultural use, and some residential use; but easements can also be signed to conserve specific values – such as ecological, recreational, scenic, or historic. The landowner keeps ownership of the land while also ensuring that the land’s conservation values are sustainable.  

The Brucklachers connected with NPC Land Steward, Sara Schlesinger, to discuss their values and conservation goals. After their initial meeting and walking the land together, it didn’t take Sara long to realize that the Brucklacher’s remaining 29 acres aligned with NPC’s mission to conserve and enhance the lands and waters of Northcentral PA.

“It was clear that the land was well-loved and stewarded. The forested land along the tributary that flows into Elk Creek prevents the streambank from eroding and washing away, helping to keep excess nutrients from flowing into the creek and elsewhere downstream. Conserving the water resources, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity, on the property supports the overall environmental well-being of the community.”

Sara Schlesinger, NPC Land Steward
Conserving this stream on the Brucklacher conservation easement supports the overall environmental well-being of the community.

After a year of more meetings, paperwork, surveys, walk throughs on the land, and all the other in-betweens, NPC wrapped up 2023 with the establishment of the ‘Brucklacher’ conservation easement!  Thank you to the Brucklachers for their generosity and commitment, and a special thanks to the NPC membership for their continued support.

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.

Elk Country and the NPC Legacy

Each year thousands of people make the trip to Elk Country – home to the largest free-roaming elk herd in the northeastern United States – for the opportunity to catch sight of this magnificent animal in its natural habitat. Located in the northcentral region of Pennsylvania, as many as 1,400 elk roam wild across 3,000 square miles.

Photo credit: Tim Holladay

One of the most popular times of year to view the elk is during the “fall rut,” which typically begins in September and carries through October.  Keep your eyes and ears open during this time, for a chance to see bull elk locking antlers as they compete for a mate or hear the distinct “elk bugle” mating call!  The area also boasts several world class visitor and education centers, an abundance of other wildlife viewing opportunities, and a 127-mile scenic drive that loops through Elk Country.  Visit PA Wilds to help plan your trip and learn to be ELK SMART to help preserve the wild nature of the herd during your visit!

Elk History in PA

Eastern elk once roamed freely throughout their native Pennsylvania range.  However, colonization and unregulated hunting wiped out the native herd by the mid-1800s.  In 1913, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) began reintroducing elk imported from the western United States into the Pennsylvania wild.  Since then, PGC, along with other state agencies and organizations – including the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy – have worked to help conserve and protect the elk and their habitat.

NPC and Partners Expand Elk Habitat in Clinton County 

By the late 1990’s, NPC was on the cusp of its 10th anniversary and was a testament for what the power of partnerships and community-driven conservation efforts could achieve.  So, when a large parcel of land on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the Sproul State Forest District was rumored for sale, NPC and the community rallied! 

You see, for generations, the community had accessed the land for hiking, hunting and picnicking; and feared private purchase would cut them off from the land they loved.  While at the same time, the PGC was searching for areas to expand the elk herd’s conserved habitat.

Partnerships formed quickly between NPC, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. At a West Keating Township meeting, NPC worked with the community to understand their needs. The heirs of the over 4,000 acres agreed to sell the property for conservation. Additionally, contributions came from large foundations, as well as sportsmen’s groups and individual donors. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded funding through the Keystone Fund and the land was purchased!

In the end, 1,110 acres of new state forest was secured with public access to the river, and 3,330 acres of new elk habitat and hunting ground created as State Game Lands 321.

This piece of the NPC legacy, known as the Kelly-New Garden project, not only helped restore the elk herd to what it is today, but also ensured that these awe-inspiring animals will have a habitat to roam wild in Pennsylvania for generations yet to come. 

Underfoot

By: Susan Sprout

The NPC membership is made up of a diverse group of knowledgeable individuals with a shared passion for the natural world. As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and kick off Environmental Education Week 2020, we’re welcoming environmental educator and longtime NPC member, Susan Sprout, as a recurring guest of the NPC blog to share her botanical knowledge. Enjoy!

Happy earth…happy us! Let’s face it, without the planet and its many components under our feet, we would not be here.  Can you wrap your brain around the fact that there are over 8.7 billion different species of organisms on earth with us?  We are so totally outnumbered! In a single handful of dirt there may be billions of individual bacteria, fungi and algae living.  Their life functions make the soil rich and alive, which benefits what grows both above and below – the plants and trees we depend upon for our lives and well-being.

I will be sharing with you from time to time some of the extraordinary plants we find underfoot as we walk the earth – roadsides, backyards, easements, parks, trails – where your feet take you. Look down! See what’s growing!

The first native plant I’d like to introduce you to is bloodroot.
While walking through moist, deciduous woods in April and early May, look for the fragile white blooms of bloodroot being held in supportive hugs by their curled leaves. The leaves will flatten to a slightly furry, lobed horseshoe shape as the weather warms. Underground, its rhizome contains an orange-red juice which gives the plant its common name. Native Americans have used bloodroot or Puccoon for hundreds of years as dye, body paint, and medicine. A member of the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae), this plant is native to North America and can range from Quebec to Florida.

Susan is a retired school teacher who continued teaching after retirement at Montour Preserve helping teachers of  handicapped students with nature walks, at the National Shell Museum as a curator of the fossil collection, and as teacher of Shell Studies at the local school on Sanibel Island. Based on her love and study of plants, she does living history presentations of medicinal plants used by Native Americans, colonial immigrants, and people living during the Civil War. Both she and her husband, Richard, serve as cannoneers  with Thompson’s Independent Battery C PA Light Artillery.  Sue has served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy board in the past. The Sprouts have been Conservancy members for 29 years.  

Susan leading a past ‘Plant Walk & Talk’ for NPC