Hopefully much of your summer was spent immersed in the
natural beauty of central Pennsylvania. This is the first
issue of the new academic year for the online newsletter, The
Hemlock, a publication of the Environmental
Focus Group. Our goal is to help the Lock Haven
University community develop a deeper sense of place.
Thus, The Hemlock features articles on outdoor recreation
opportunities, information on ways to protect and preserve the
environment, and insights into the heritage and culture of
central Pennsylvania. The
articles are contributed by LHU faculty, staff, and students--if
you would like to submit something for a future issue, please
contact Bob Myers.
If you missed the previous three issues of The Hemlock
and would like to get caught up, you can find them online at:
Hemlock 1.1 (March 2008),
Hemlock 1.2 (April 2008),
Hemlock 1.3 (May 2008).
The theme of this issue is
environmental threat. Although The Hemlock tries to
maintain a positive tone, it is important to recognize the
seriousness of the many environmental challenges that we face.
There is much work that needs to be done by all of us.
The Unraveling Ecosystem in State Game Land 295
--Barrie Overton (LHU
across the road from Lock Haven University's Sieg Conference
Center is a trail that follows Cherry Run through State Game
Land (SGL) 295. SGL 295 was founded in 1979 and
represents the largest project in Pennsylvania Conservancy
history to protect four mountain streams and nearly 20 square
miles (12,860 acres) of game-rich forested mountain terrain in
which bear, deer, squirrels, turkey, grouse, box turtles, and
frogs abound. You can even fish for brook trout in the
limestone waters of Cherry Run (although they remain elusive
prey for me). However, the forests and mountain streams of State
Game Land 295 are facing a serious threat.
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid
dominant tree in SGL 295 is the Pennsylvania state tree, the
hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). The hemlocks in SGL 295 are
severely infested by the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges
tsugae) an invasive pest from East Asia, and the trees are
currently showing signs of stress. If nothing is done, the
hemlocks will disappear, possibly within a decade.
from the tragic loss of these beautiful trees, the hemlock is a
cornerstone species, and if a cornerstone species disappears
from a habitat, it will lead to fundamental shifts in the
ecosystem and the disappearance of other species from that
habitat. Without the hemlocks, the
wilderness streams will no longer be sheltered in shade, stream
temperatures will rise, trout will no longer find the stream a
hospitable place, box turtles and frogs will no longer find the area a moist and suitable habitat, there will be increased
soil erosion, and many organisms will have to move to a
different location to survive or face extinction (given that
hemlock forest are declining across PA). Furthermore, we will
lose microorganisms such as fungi that are associated with the
hemlocks in symbiotic relationships.
on previous scientific research, we know that right now in State
Game Land 295, pine trees and oak trees are sending emails to
the hemlocks (please excuse the anthropomorphism) along a vast
internet made up of billions of tiny connections of fungal
threads called mycelium smaller than the width of a human hair.
Instead of a text based email outlining the pros and cons of
university policies, the message that the pine and oak are
sending is in the form ofphotosynthates, or sugars.
The hemlocks are stressed, their products of
photosynthesis are being utilized by the woolly adelgid and the
hemlocks are literally starving to death, so pine and oak are
sharing sugars they produced by photosynthesis. Sugars are
shared between tree speciesthrough a fungal network of mycelium
that mycologists, like myself, call ectomycorrhizal associations
(symbiotic associations between trees and mushrooms, in which
the tree provides the mushroom photosynthates, and the tree is
compensated by the increased efficiency of mineral absorption by
fungal mycelium, and by the storage of mineral nutrients that
aren't immediately needed by the tree). You may have seen
ectomycorrhizal fungi--they are the mushrooms you find fruiting
in abundance this time of year. Mycologists do not yet
understand how the fungi determine that one of their hosts is
under stress and how the mechanism of sharing carbon (sugar)
resources works, but we do know that the process has limitations
and that the hemlocks will eventually die if the woolly adelgid
is not eradicated.
Eradication of the adelgid may never occur. States such as New
Hampshire have switched almost exclusively to restoration
programs where pine and spruce are being planted to replace the
hemlocks in an attempt to maintain coniferous forests and the
benefits of shade and moisture retention they provide. There are
pesticides available for treating infected trees, but they are
applicable more for the homeowner than a 12,860 acre forest.
Minor advances in biocontrol have been made and some predatory
beetles are being evaluated. Recovery plans include protecting
some hemlock stands with pesticides as a seed source for
breeding programs. However, breeding programs take decades.
Additionally, in order to replant resistant trees, you need to
also seed their symbiotic fungi. The problem is that we don’t
know what fungi are associated with hemlocks in any detail.
LHU Students Puzzling Over Mushrooms with Dr.
effort to document the fungal organisms that are associated with
hemlocks, I have been working with other mycologists to collect
and identify fungi at State Game Land 295. Scientists from the
New York Botanical Garden, the Chicago Field Museum, Cornell,
Berkley, the University of Oregon, SUNY-ESF, Howard University,
Penn State, amateur naturalists from around Pennsylvania, and
international scientists from Japan, Spain, and Estonia have
helped me to generate a list of 207 species of fungi found in
State Game Land 295. This list will continue to grow with
research being conducted in an independent study project this
fall by a Lock Haven University undergraduate, A.J. Johnson.
This list will be used by scientists at other institutions
who are cloning fungi from hemlock roots and determining their
identity based on DNA sequence data. This information will be
necessary for restoring hemlocks in Pennsylvania.
fully appreciate the importance of the need to save the hemlocks
and SGL 295, I encourage you go for a hike along Cherry Run. I
think that you will agree that this unique habitat needs to be
protected. It took the greatest Central Pennsylvania Conservancy effort in
the history of the organization to create SGL 295 and it is going to take
the greatest restoration effort in Pennsylvania history to
protect it for future generations to enjoy. Currently there are
no pines or spruce being planted along the streams to offset the
loss of hemlocks, and state funding for research in woolly adelgid control is minimal. As a result, the wilderness streams
and all of the animal and plant species that depend on them are
endangered. The ecosystem is unraveling and no-one is paying
attention. Join with me and send your copy of this publication
to your state representatives and congressional leaders and ask
them to begin the restoration project now!
information, visit these websites:
Save Our Hemlocks,
the US Forest
Service's Wooly Adelgid page (source of the adelgid picture above),
PA DCNR's Hemlock Wooly Adelgid site.
Hike of the Month: State Game Land 295
To see the hemlocks described in Professor Overton's article,
try the following 10 mile hike (4-5 hours). First,
map of SGL 295. Go
to LHU's Sieg Conference Center, which is 14 miles from campus (directions).
Do not turn into Sieg; instead continue on Narrows Road for two
tenths of a mile until you reach the bridge over Cherry Run.
Park in the lot on the left and follow the red blazes to the
main trail--you will cross two (slippery!) wooden bridges before
reaching the trail, where you turn left (note the red arrow
sign) and begin following Cherry Run northeast. After 4.5
miles (about 2 hours), you will reach a gravel road (Cherry Run
Road). Turn right and follow the gravel road south for 1/2
mile. The road continues southwest along Bear Run for 4.5
miles, gradually becoming a trail, before it connects again to
Narrows Road. Turn right on Narrows Road and a half mile
later, you will be back at your car.
This is a
beautiful hike that is not terribly difficult. Most of it
is level, and, with the exception of a few muddy and rocky
areas, the trail is smooth. The hemlocks on the return leg
down Bear Run seem to be the most damaged by the wooly adelgid.
You can see trout in the small pools of Bear Run. (My thanks to
my hiking partners who helped me investigate this trail--Mark,
Lisette, John, Sue, Elizabeth, and Max.)
convenience, we have put all of the previous Hikes of the Month
on one webpage: Hemlock Hikes.
Photography by Nate Fought
(LHU Art Major)
I took "Lock Haven at Sunset"
on January 14th, 2008. This
image of the Susquehanna River viewed from the Woodward
Boat Launch captures the sun setting behind the city of
Lock Haven. I am a Fine Art Photography
student and a member of the Fine Art Society at LHU. To
view more of my images, please visit my
If you have club events that you would like
photographed, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Mark Smith (LHU English Professor)
the first time I saw the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Newly
arrived from the midwest, I walked the full length of Lock Haven
up on the levee. To me, my new hometown was just the right size.
The University, too. And the river? So clear I could see down
fifteen, maybe twenty feet. An astonishing green-hued clarity.
On that day in June I watched a loon diving for fish between the
shore and Boom Island beside the University. I watched the dark
bird swimming sleek and swift as a fish, though I didn’t see it
catch anything. I had seen water this clear out west—at Lake
Tahoe, and Lake McDonald in Glacier National—but now I would be
kayaking a clean, clear river of my own. I couldn’t wait to put
in, couldn’t wait to explore.
I had the river all wrong of
course. Within a week of moving here, I had kayaked upriver past
Queen’s Run to Lick Run, about five miles up. By the time I got
there unease had replaced my enthusiasm. I understood then that
the upper reaches of this river (from Lock Haven up) are all but
lifeless. Acid mine drainage (AMD) has so altered the pH that
almost nothing lives in the water. Many of the tributaries are
acidic, and in spots, garish, rust-red seeps of acid enter the
river from left or right, often staining the stones on the
riverbottom. From a kayak I look down into a rocky riverscape of
almost lunar lifelessness. I often feel like the only living
thing in the river, and sometimes, of course, I am. That absence
of living things can be a strange and lonely experience.
According to E.O. Wilson’s
“biophilia hypothesis” we are attracted to life and living
things because it’s in our genes. As Stephen Kellert describes
it, the hypothesis is “a scientific claim of a human need, fired
in the crucible of evolutionary development, for deep and
intimate association with the natural environment, particularly
its living biota.” I have always known that bone-deep need so my
first outings on the West Branch were quite a shock. In fact, I
felt out of place, almost like a man touring a watery moon in an
alien solar system. I looked for all the river life I knew in
the midwest: the great blue herons, the green herons, the bald
eagles and ospreys. I wanted kingfishers scolding me with
chittering calls. I wanted damselflies—civil bluets and American
rubyspots—alighting on my boat, my paddle, my hands. I wanted
fish streaming away for deeper water and turtles basking on
logs. I looked for these things in the West Branch but almost
nothing was there. Just the ghostly rocks, the deep green pools
sinking into blackness, the acid transparency of the water.
Oh, I’ll see some fish now and
again—little ones mostly. And I’ll sometimes see the birds. On a
twenty mile trip down from Hyner I might see a pair of bald
eagles, or one green heron, or a few spotted sandpipers. I’ve
happened upon a particular snapping turtle twice now, it’s shell
stained red like the rocks. And thankfully, in my own
unscientific surveys I see a bit more life with every passing
And yet, despite the
life-loneliness, there is a curious paradox on the West Branch.
On one hand it’s almost dead. On the other hand all that
sparkling water can be a tremendous and beautiful sight. The
stony riverbottom can be lovely to watch as it glides beneath my
boat hull. In the pools, I watch the bottom drop into holes so
deep the light can’t escape. Then I watch the blackness go to
green, the green resolve itself into stones, the stones rise up
until bright rock-colors are gliding swiftly past in sun-filled
rapids. The clarity makes it easy to study the morphology of
this river—a classic “pool and riffle” pattern, with big lazy
pools alternating with short easy riffles.
Mornings and evenings the sun
explodes off the clear water in a million places, a glittering
glorious immersion in light. From the mountaintops, and from
cliffs overlooking the river, the water takes on rich and varied
(and often unnatural) hues in many lights and seasons. And of
course on hot summer days, the river is a perfect place to swim.
After all, the water is practically swimming-pool clear. All
summer the kids of Lock Haven drift down from the railroad
bridge three miles up, their limbs draped over inner tubes and
hanging from rafts.
So the West Branch is a paradox.
A lovely, but lonely place, both beautiful and dead.
Restoring the West Branch
watershed is—and will be for decades to come—hard and costly
work. According to the Pennsylvania DEP, estimates range from
279 to 464 million dollars to do the whole thing. It sounds like
a lot of money, but of course it’s a simple question of
have to believe we’ll get those priorities straightened out
again. And when we do, imagine the
beautiful healing we will witness, as life—species by
species—returns to the West Branch. Dragonflies. Crayfish.
Mollusks. The American shad. Along with the fish, the birds that
eat the fish, and also the fisherman who eat the fish. Imagine
the ripe plenitude of a healthy, living river. The recovery
might remind us of evolution greatly speeded up, like a second
Cambrian explosion of life. A moment of astounding growth and
healing. I look forward to a day when I travel the West Branch
in the full company of life. I can’t wait for the day when I
startle a big school of American shad, watch them close ranks
like a liquid fist and charge upstream into a living river once
again, a living river for all of us.
Interview Travel Agents About Clinton County
--Marlene Jensen (LHU Marketing Professor)
Marketing students recently helped discover the
perceptions of travel agents about vacationing in Clinton
Country. Students in my Introduction to Marketing class interviewed travel agents in
Centre and Lycoming Counties, plus in their home towns of
Harrisburg, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.
Agents in the two nearest
Bald Eagle State Park, as well as Lock Haven
and Renovo in general for hiking and camping. The only
negatives mentioned were that our area is more of a
do-it-yourself vacation area; one agent thought there were
no outfitters here, unaware of our local outfitter,
River and Trail.
About half of the interviewed
agents in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington had heard
about Clinton County as a vacation spot. They recommended it
to customers seeking wildlife, beautiful scenery, hunting,
fishing, camping, boating, and relaxation. The negative
comments of some agents reflected a lack of knowledge about
the area. For example, one wondered where people would stay,
another was concerned there was nothing to do except going
to movies, bowling and dining, while a third was very
concerned about the risks of snake bite(!) One more savvy
agent said that you would need a car to vacation in Clinton
This research supplemented
previous think-tank sessions where marketing students tried
to identify the perfect “tag line” for promoting Clinton
County. The final recommendation was: “Clinton County – the
heart of PA.”
Reflecting upon Our
Relationship with the Environment or R-E-S-P-E-C-T
--Joan Whitman Hoff (LHU Philosophy Professor)
think of relationships, we often think of the people in our
lives and the different types of bonds we have with each of
them. Whether we are children or parents, teachers or students,
buyers or sellers, our relationships play significant roles in
our lives and, perhaps, help us to define ourselves. In many
ways, the people in our lives help us to live and grow in the
world. Often, respect for the "other" in those relationships is
one of the basic values we hold – or know we should hold. We
often assume that people have "integrity" as humans and deserve
to be treated in a particular way. We may give thanks for them,
and to them, throughout our lives, though sometimes only after
something awakens us and reminds us not to take them for
a similar manner, it might be helpful for us to think about the
kind of relationship we have with the environment. Of course,
we can think about the different ways in which the environment
manifests itself: culturally, socially, biologically, etc., and
each of these may hold their own special meaning for us. It is
also possible, and necessary, to consider how we interact with
the environment itself and how we see ourselves in relation to
it. Sometimes, we may take the environment for granted and not
be as respectful as we should be. Sometimes, it may be
invisible to us as we move through our busy lives.
‘relationship’ refers to a connection or alliance … a common
origin. Surely, we share much with the environment; yet,
perhaps because it remains in the ‘background’, or at least we
think it does, we don’t often see it as we should, nor treat it
as we should. We may take it for granted and view it only in
terms of what it can do for us. Or, it may remain invisible to
us as we move through the day with tunnel vision, trying to
satisfy our own needs.
the anthropocentric (human-centered) view we have is used to
legitimate the use, and abuse, of the environment. Even though
people, arguably, are the most important entities in our
relationships, we may not think about the impact our actions
toward the environment might have on those we love. For others,
like Eagle Man, “We are all related,” and we cannot separate who
we are or what we do, and the human relationships we have, fully
from the environment. We are because it is. This
non-anthropocentric view requires us to recognize what ‘mother
earth’ has given us, and it reminds us that we should give
thanks to it and for it.
Environmental slogans such as, “Love your mother” and “Hug a
tree” might seem silly to some, but they surely can serve as
reminders that we owe much to the environment and the world
around us as we do to those with whom we share our lives. These
reminders can wake us up and help us to recognize that our
tunnel vision may leave us with an incomplete view of the world,
and no trees left to hug.
Just as a
neglected human relationship often results in a breakup, and
lots of shouting and screaming along the way, a neglected
relationship with the environment may lead to the environment
shouting at us in a different manner. As Eagle Man says, Mother
Earth is showing signs of being weary from our lack of respect.
Its resources are being exploited, it water begin wasted, and
its air being polluted. We cannot continue to take without
giving something back in return; we cannot continue to be cared
for and not care in return.
(17th century) told us that we should be mindful that
the things of the world are not ours to abuse; rather, they are
gifts. We need to be mindful that they are to be used
respectfully, keeping in mind that others have needs for these
things, too. This requires us to at least consider the value of
all things in the world, and not just us.
relationship requires give and take. One that only takes will
soon surely see its demise. The earth is shouting to us in a
variety of ways, asking us to wake up, see its beauty, take care
of it, and give it a little respect. If we choose not to do so,
there may be nothing, and no one, left to hug, nothing and no
one to whom we can relate.
time to give your Mother a call.
essay “We are all related” can be found in
Philosophies for Living (Robert M. Timko & Joan Whitman
Book Review: Bill McKibben,
A colleague recently gave me a journal that
listed the ten most important environmental books, and one of
these was McKibben's 1989 The End of Nature, a title that I'd
often come across, but had never read. In addition to
being an important environmental book, I would also nominate it
for one of the ten best depression-inducing books, rivaling
Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. McKibben was one
of the earliest environmentalists to point to the threat of global warming,
and he does an impressive job of compiling the evidence to show
that humanity is on the verge of disaster. The title
refers to the end of nature as a separate entity, something wild
that sets limits on human vanity. This belief that man and
nature were ever fully separate has been challenged recently by
environmental critics, but McKibben's recognition of the threat
to the world as we've known it for thousands of years remains
came from the realization of how little we've done since 1989
to address this problem. Once conscious of the urgency of
the crisis, it's hard not to feel outrage at the continued
indifference of our political leaders. Or at our own
continued indifference. McKibben's book makes it clear
that this crisis will not be averted by changing a few light
bulbs, recycling, and buying smaller cars. It requires a
radical reduction in our culture of consumption, what he calls a
more "humble" lifestyle. We all
need to use much less than we do. And we need to do it
immediately. Perhaps it's time that we initiate a
discussion about how we as a university could reduce our
consumption of paper and other resources.
ends his book with hope: "This could be the epoch when people
decide at least to go no farther down the path we've been
following--when we make not only the necessary technological
adjustments to preserve the world from overheating but also the
necessary mental adjustments to ensure that we'll never again
put our good ahead of everything else's. This is the path
I choose, for it offers at least a shred of hope for a living,
eternal, meaningful world."
Bob Myers (chair), Md. Khalequzzaman, Lenny Long, Jeff Walsh,
Danielle Tolton, John Crossen, Sandra Barney, David White, Tom
Ormond. The committee is charged with promoting and
supporting activities, experiences, and structures that
encourage students, faculty, and staff to develop a stronger
sense of place for Lock Haven University and central
Pennsylvania. Such a sense of place involves a stewardship
of natural resources (environmentalism), meaningful outdoor
experiences, and appreciation for the heritage of the region.