Tag Archives: conservation

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.

Conservation Partnerships Improve Stream Health

Thursday, 4/25/24 – It was an exciting day at Turtle Creek as the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) and the rest of the Northcentral Stream Partnership welcomed guests and dignitaries to the streambanks of Turtle Creek!  The cause for celebration:  two streams in the Turtle Creek Watershed in Union County were removed, or “delisted,” from PA’s list of impaired waters.

That’s a huge turnaround from just a decade ago, when walking along Turtle Creek you would have noticed deeply eroded streambanks, a wider stream channel, livestock trampling the stream’s edge, and shallow waters that could barely support fish and other aquatic life. 

Today a lush riparian buffer lines its banks. The plant roots strengthen the bank, holding back erosion and reducing sedimentation while mature trees provide shade, cooling the water for fish and other species.  Natural log and rock structures stabilize the bank while providing better habitat for fish and a variety of macroinvertebrates. Fencing and stream crossings help keep cattle and other livestock from compacting the stream’s edge.

Native tree plantings line the streambank on a segment of Turtle Creek.

So how did this struggling stretch of streams go from polluted and impaired to restored and serving as a healthy water resource for our communities once again?


The “team” in this case, is the Northcentral Stream Partnership, a partnership consisting of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), county conservation districts, and willing landowners. The Partnership formed in 2007. Individually each “player” came with their own strengths, and when they all started working together, that is when the real magic happened…or in this case, delisting!

In attendance for the occasion were guests and representatives from each of the partnerships, including DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) Secretary Russell Redding, PFBC Executive Director Timothy Schaeffer, Senator Gene Yaw, Senator Scott Martin, and Chesapeake Conservancy Executive Director Joel Dunn.

“We are proud to showcase the significant accomplishments made to improve Turtle Creek and the surrounding watershed. Restoring water quality and habitat while maintaining the watershed as a working agricultural landscape was no small undertaking, and it is yielding incredible results. The Turtle Creek watershed is a prime example of how strong partnerships, innovation, and sustained and strategic investments have restored local streams. This success would not have been possible without our state and local agency partners, including the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy and county conservation districts. Together, we’ll restore more streams and protect more watersheds across Pennsylvania.” 

DEP Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley

The Union County Conservation District hosted the event and the Partners led attendees through an informational tour on the projects happening within the Turtle Creek watershed that led to delisting.

NPC Executive Director, Renee’ Carey, and Landowner, Josh Satteson, share about the benefits of riparian buffers and the landowner perspective.

In Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley’s opening remarks, she declared, “The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy has been an active leader in the Turtle Creek restoration efforts from the beginning, and have been the backbone of the Northcentral Stream Partnership, setting an example for others to follow.”

With the “delistings” of these 2 streams, NPC and the Northcentral Stream Partnership have demonstrated how working together we can make a difference to restore the health of our streams, instilling hope and inciting action throughout PA and the entire Chesapeake Bay.

This incredible accomplishment belongs to every single member, partner, and supporter of the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy. 


Thank you for being a part of the team and supporting these ongoing conservation efforts!

Check out what others are sharing about the work you’re helping NPC accomplish:
Dept. of Environmental Protection Press Room
WNEP Press Room
WVIA Press Room
Daily Item Press Room

“A Night for Nature” turns into a Night to Remember!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for an unforgettable evening at the inaugural benefit, “A Night for Nature,” in support of NPC’s conservation efforts in Northcentral PA! 🌳🌟

We’re still buzzing with excitement from the incredible turnout and overwhelming support from the community. A special shoutout to Turkey Hill Brewing Company for hosting us and going above and beyond to make the night truly magical. The food, beer, and atmosphere were AMAZING!

AND their generosity continues as they’ll be donating a portion of the sale from the Helles-bender beer while it remains on tap throughout the coming weeks.

To Andrew, Olivia, Alec, Jenny, Tim & the entire staff at Turkey Hill Brewing Company – THANK YOU

Thank you to our sponsors:
W&L Subaru
Native Creations Landscape Services, Inc.
Journey Bank
Woodlands Bank

Their support fuels NPC’s mission to protect the natural resources that make our region such a special place to live, work and play!

We also couldn’t have done it without our amazing event contributors and volunteers, including:
The talented musicians Darren Inman and Platinum Fairy
Wild For Salmon
Dr. Steven Rier, Professor of Biology, University of Bloomsburg
Todd Moore, Graphic Designer
The NPC Board of Directors
The Silent Auction Donors

And a heartfelt THANK YOU to Kate Pachacha, our Volunteer Event Coordinator, whose dedication and hard work were instrumental in bringing this event to life. Your passion for nature shines through in everything you do.

Stay tuned as we crunch the numbers and share the fundraising totals made possible by YOUR support!

Together, we’re making a meaningful difference for our planet and future generations.

View a photo album of the evening’s festivities!

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. 


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