Volume 5, Issue 2 (December 2011)
In This Issue...
"The place to observe nature is where you are; the walk to take today is the walk you took yesterday. You will not find just the same things: both the observed and the observer have changed." ~John Burroughs (1886)
That wide expanse,
The lines above are the opening of an epic poem,” Story of the Indian Steps,” written in 1913 by John Chatham, a poet whom Pennsylvania historian Henry Shoemaker called “the Bard of Central Pennsylvania.” The Indian steps are a local oddity. On the side of Tussey Mountain, right at the Huntingdon County Line, a set of stone steps runs up the mountain. They were clearly deliberately placed there, but the mystery is who placed them. They appear on a map of 1770, and may have been constructed by Native Americans, though they don’t quite fit with the procedures of any nearby tribes.
Chatham was born November 11, 1846 in Lock Haven. He was descended from soldiers of the Revolutionary War. His great-grandmother was related to Benedict Arnold. The family was granted land in the Beech Creek area, and it was this land that initially got Chatham interested in the outdoors. He grew up to be a raftsman on the Susquehanna, and spent a lot of time on the river and in the nearby forest. He got very experienced in woodcraft, camping, and the local animals that inhabited the forests. Chatham married Barbara Gramley, whom he met in Centre County. Gramley was also descended from Revolutionary War veterans. The two of them settled and had six children.
Chatham took an interest in Pennsylvania folklore, history, and local legend. So perhaps it was natural that he would meet and become friends with Henry Wharton Shoemaker, also a local writer of folklore and history. The two conspired to gather legends and write stories. Both were founding members of the Clinton County Historical Society in 1921.
At one point, Chatham heard the story of the Indian Steps. Allegedly, the steps were built by the Leni-Lenape Indians in order to swarm over the mountains from an unexpected direction and attack the nearby Susquehannocks by surprise. However, the Susquehannock leader, Pipsisseway, figured out the plan and was expecting them. He defeated the attacking Leni-Lenape, and had the bodies of their dead thrown into their water supply, as a way of poisoning the others. You did not mess with Pipsisseway. Chatham, intrigued by the story, researched it and found out that such a battle did happen about 1635. He described the battle to Shoemaker, who wrote it up in one of his books, The Indian Steps and Other Stories (1912). Chatham later wrote a poem about the legend himself.
Chatham died in 1923, at the age of seventy-six. He was buried in Linnwood Cemetery in McElhattan (to see his grave, follow the April 2010 “Hike of the Month”). His gravestone contains a quote from Governor Gifford Pinchot: “He was not only an outdoor man, but an outdoor poet, whose feeling for beauty in the wilderness was keenly felt and beautifully expressed.”
The Indian Steps are still there, and worth the hike. If you want to hike them, drive to Pine Grove Mills on Route 26. From Pine Grove Mills follow Route 26 south, over the mountain, 3.1 miles. Near the bottom of the mountain, turn right onto Harry’s Valley Road (a dirt road). Go 1.9 miles and you’ll see a trail marker for Indian Steps. A short distance further is a parking area. Follow the Indian Steps trail up the mountain to the orange-blazed Mid-State Trail. Turn left (west) on the MST and follow it to the PA Furnace Road. Turn left and descend. At the first switchback, continue straight onto Pump Station Road, which will return you to the parking area. The total hike is 4 miles. If you go, stand a moment and think of John Chatham, and the lines of his poem:
And may his days
LHU students in the Student Support Services program (SSS) have spent much of the Fall semester developing a recycling project. Peer Mentor Clayton Snyder is leading a residence hall based recycling endeavor. The local SSS effort will join with Terracycle, a national organization, to collect certain recyclables in a few residence halls by early next year. Snyder conducted a survey of first year students in the SSS program to select items to be recycled. Students will decorate boxes and install them near vending areas in the residence halls to collect Frito-Lay bags, and wrappers from Mars/Wrigley’s/ Cadbury products. The survey also gave students the ability to select a beneficiary of funds received from the project. The students decided to donate any money to protecting wildlife habitat.
Terracycle offers dozens of recycling options and accepts materials that are not typically part of neighborhood recycling programs. The program provides for shipping the materials, explains how the recycled items will be re-used, and offers nominal payment to the non-profit of your choice. For more information, visit www.terracycle.net.
It would seem fit to name our planet Oceanus (oh--see-uh-nuhs) given that this vast ecosystem covers 76 percent of the globe. It is so massive that it drives our weather, our ecosystem, and the Earth’s axis. It is so vast that the tallest mountain peaks would sink well below the surface. It provides us with 80 percent of all species, most of Earth’s oxygen, and immeasurable amounts of service. Without it, life on Earth could not exist. And it’s dying.
This vast wonder of our planet has apocalyptic size problems that need to be addressed in order to prevent an ecological collapse. Climate change, overfishing, and wasteful fishing practices are three problems that have led to the degradation of the ocean. Centuries of pollution and carelessness have left this magnificent ecosystem in ruin. If drastic solutions are not put into place, we may lose the one thing that we most depend on for survival.
The first major problem that our oceans face is climate change. Anthropogenic climate change is caused due to the greenhouse effect which warms our planet as an excess amount of CO2 is polluted into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. For the past 500,000 years, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have fluctuated from 180 ppmv to 260 ppmv. Due to the start of the Industrial Revolution, CO2 concentrations have risen, and today concentration levels are currently at 380 ppmv. Because climatologists have shown that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are related to temperature, it paints a very bleak picture for Earth if fossil fuel burning is not controlled, limited, and ultimately terminated.
One of the most obvious problems facing the ocean due to climate change is the melting of the polar ice caps. Water that has been locked in ice for millenia has suddenly begun to melt at an alarming rate. As billions of gallons of freshwater are melted into the ocean, sea levels begin to rise. In 2006, the island of Lohachara, home to 10,000 people, sank beneath the surface in the Bay of Bengal. But this rise is only minimal compared to the five- to six-foot rise scientists have predicted for the near future. If fossil fuel burning continues at the present rate, such a rise is only seven decades away. Millions of species would become extinct due to habitat loss, as well as 3,000,000,000 people becoming displaced.
One of the dangers of an ocean with an extra six feet of water is the impact on climate. The Ocean Circulation System (OCS) is a global climactic current that drives weather patterns as it provides both warm and cold water to specific areas on Earth. The OCS can only work when the salinity levels and temperature are just right. But the melting of the polar ice caps hinders the OCS’s ability to move the water currents. All the freshwater that used to be ice dilutes the ocean and shuts down the OCS. And this sequentially causes a spiraling downward effect of the marine food chain and world’s climate.
Ocean acidification is another problem associated with climate change. As carbon dioxide levels increase in the atmosphere, so does the carbon dioxide concentrations in the ocean. As CO2 increases in concentration, the pH of the ocean, usually very basic at 8.2, drops in pH becoming more acidic. This causes problems for ecosystems like coral reefs, which rely on calcium carbonate to build its structures, an element that is missing in an acidic ocean. When these organisms can no longer survive, it constricts the marine food chain, a highly interconnected hierarchy that has been perfected over evolutionary history. When keystone species are removed from the bottom of the food chain, such as phytoplankton or coral reefs, it throws the system off balance. When the corals die, the small fish which relied on the coral for food die and the larger fish, such as jacks, groupers, and sharks, die or leave due to a lack of food. So an ecosystem that was once an ecological hot spot is now an ocean desert as a result of ocean acidification.
Overfishing is the second cataclysmic problem that must be addressed now in order to prevent a complete and utter collapse of world fisheries. It has been estimated that upwards of 75 percent of all fisheries are being overfished at unsustainable levels. The marine food chain is a highly interconnected hierarchy. When keystone species, such as sharks or tuna are removed from the top of the food chain, it throws the entire chain off balance. Smaller species of fish whose populations were kept in check by larger, predatory animals, suddenly jump in population size and can wreak havoc on an ecosystem by eating more of a certain species that are important to the environment.
One of the direst examples of overfishing was the collapse of the cod industry in Canada in 1992. After decades of overfishing, the once thriving cod population collapsed leaving fishing boats empty, thousands unemployed, and the North Atlantic ecosystem in turmoil. Today, cod populations have rebounded, but so slowly that it will take decades for the ecosystem to fully recover.
Currently, fishing rates of bluefin tuna are on track to mimic the North Atlantic cod population. Atlantic bluefin tuna have been reduced by 82 percent and it is estimated that only 25,000 mature individuals remain. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) found that an immediate reduction in tuna quotas should be reduced to prevent an “imminent collapse.” Yet, yielding to pressure from the European Union, Turkey, and Libya, the ICCAT actually increased the quota by 40%, ignoring their own scientists.
Wasteful Fishing Practices
The third problem facing the ocean is wasteful fishing practices. Shark finning is the practice of slicing off the fins from the living organism. Then the remaining, butchered shark is dumped into the ocean dead or dying. The fins are sold in Asia and the Mid-East as shark fin soup; a tasteless broth. Upwards of 100 million sharks per year are slaughtered for the finning industry. By-catch refers to any living organism that is unwanted after being caught by large nets. Each year millions of tons of fish, birds, and mammals are killed, and then dumped overboard as waste. By-catch is a result of fishing practices such as long lining and bottom trawling. Long lining utilizes baited hooks attached to fishing line, while bottom trawling uses a system of nets, weights, and cables to catch fish in mass quantities. Worldwide, one out of every four fish caught is discarded dead or dying as by-catch. Worldwide regulation of the fishing industry is weak or non-existent.
The ocean truly is the last frontier on Earth. Climate change, overfishing, and wasteful fishing practices are three problems that have led to the degradation of the ocean. Throughout evolutionary history, life on Earth has depended on the overall health of the ocean. Systems vital for our survival, are driven by the ocean. Without it, life on Earth cannot exist. Centuries of pollution and carelessness have left this magnificent ecosystem in ruin. A number of solutions are ready to meet these problems in order to preserve and protect this wonder of the world from total destruction. People can change for the better. It all depends on everyone’s involvement. If something is not done however to meet these challenges, humans will certainly end up like the dinosaurs: extinct.
For for more information and documentation of the claims made in the article, see the following sources:
For nothing rabbits poach the gardeners toil.
For nothing I write this,
take back your gasoline dreams and elevators of steel,
The Suites on Fairview are being designed and constructed to many of the United States Green Building Council’s (USBGC) recommendations for a cost-efficient and energy-saving building. Once again Lock Haven University demonstrates its commitment to improved environmental and human health performance.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has asked that all campuses strive for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification while planning and building new facilities. The Suites will be LHU’s third building following USGBC’s guidance (the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center and the academic building at Clearfield were the firs two)
The LEED process involves six major categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation & Design Process. Notable design/construction features include: use of rain gardens to minimize the impact of storm water in the City’s storm system, use of a cool reflective roof to reduce the load on the buildings air conditioning system, preferred parking for low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles, every suite will have individual temperature control, increasing comfort and reducing energy use, and the building lighting levels will be automatically controlled with occupancy sensors to reduce energy use.
Through a strong plan, over 50% of the construction waste will be diverted from the landfill, a high percentage of the building materials are from local suppliers and manufacturers, reducing transportation requirements and reducing the carbon footprint of the construction process, a high percentage of the building products contain recycled materials, air quality in the building will be automatically monitored to maintain good air quality, while the ventilation system will use a high quality filtration system. Additionally, energy use in the building is reduced by 20% beyond building code requirements with a design that uses an energy efficient building skin, energy efficient equipment and heat recovery systems.
IceWatch USA, a program of Nature Abounds, seeks volunteers from across the United States to monitor local waterways. In as little as 10 minutes per visit, volunteers can gather and report information that will help to analyze how our climate is changing in different regions of the United States, and how our ecosystems are reacting to the change.
Volunteers contribute information about ice coverage on local waterways, snow and rainfall amounts, air temperature, and wildlife observations. IceWatch USA was launched in November 2008 and is modeled after and in partnership with IceWatch Canada. IceWatch USA now has volunteers engaged in forty states, including southern states such as Florida and Texas.
Ice watching can be done in an area that receives snow and ice regularly as well as areas that do not receive snow and ice regularly. We are looking to collect information from all areas of the country.
Nature Abounds is an emerging national non-profit, headquartered in Clearfield, PA, bringing people together for a healthy planet. More information about Nature Abounds and the IceWatch USA program are available at www.natureabounds.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
I'm somewhat surprised that I've never turned to Bald Eagle State Park for a Hemlock hike. It's our closest state park, a mere ten miles from campus. Having grown up in this area, I have many fond memories of picnicking and boating at the park. I guess I think of it as less forested and more developed than my favorite state parks (for example, World's End), so I go there less frequently than I do other places. But with the beginning of deer season, John Reid and I needed a place to hike where there was little chance of getting shot, so we made the trip to Bald Eagle.
Bald Eagle S.P. surrounds the 1730-acre Joseph Foster Sayers Reservoir, an eight-mile-long artificial lake that was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1969. Bald Eagle Creek, which enters the Susquehanna just below Lock Haven, was dammed to help prevent floods--during the winter they draw down the lake so that it can fill up with the spring rains. You can rent boats from the park, or you can bring your own. There are also beaches for swimming, and lots of opportunities for fishing.
To get to the trailhead, start at the Lock Haven Walmart and go south (right) on Route 150 for 10.7 miles. At the brown sign for "Main Parking Area/Modern Camping" turn left, and take the first right to the park office. At the kiosk outside you can get a map of the park. Go back to the main park road, turn right, and go 4/10ths of a mile to Beach Road. Take a right, and park in the lot to the left. At the far end of the lot, near the kiosk, is a sign for the Butterfly Trail.
Our plan was to follow the Butterfly Trail to the Skyline Trail, which would make a nice four-mile loop through the heart of the park. However, I suspect that the park is in the process of re-routing some trails, because the blazes seemed a bit random, and the trails often didn't match up to the name. In any case, it's impossible to get lost: the lake is always to your south, and Route 150 to the north.
At first, the Butterfly Trail is easy to follow with clear yellow blazes. Signs explain that the area is in transition because the park recently eliminated all invasive species of plants. When you come to a small pond (the Frog Pond), follow the trail to the right (south). Soon you'll come to an intersection, and a sign will indicate that the Butterfly Trail goes left (north), away from the lake. Keep following the unblazed trail parallel to the lake, which, according to the map, should be the Skyline Drive trail. Before long, you'll pass another intersection that tempts you to go left, but continue straight.
At this point, you'll begin to see on the left glimpses of Bald Eagle S.P.'s newest addition--the Nature Inn. In September 2010 the park opened the 16-room inn, which is designed according to the latest green technology. The rooms are luxurious (at least by state park standards) and include refrigerators and flat screen televisions. Personally, I prefer the rustic cabins of the other state parks (or better yet a tent), but if this gets people who can't imagine a weekend without television into the woods, so be it. If you tire of reruns of the Jersey Shore, there are excellent observation decks that enable you to observe the wildlife of the park. The rates range from $95 per night for a single room to $358 per night for a suite on Penn State football weekends. The park also has less luxurious, less expensive camping options, including yurts and tent sites.
Soon after the Nature Inn, the trail bends left (north) and intersects the paved Warbler Way, which is how you access the Inn by car. Turn left and go about 100 yards, until you see a signpost on the right for Skyline Drive Trail. Follow the yellow blazes towards Hunter's Run Cove. The trail parallels the cove and Route 150 as it heads back towards the starting point. This part of the trail is nicely wooded with lots of White Pines (trees with clumps of five needles), oaks, and American Beeches (you can identify the young trees because they keep their leaves all winter). We heard a Bald Eagle and saw several Red Bellied Woodpeckers. Eventually, you'll reach an intersection near a small concrete building. The yellow trail bends back to the left (south east), but if you turn onto the trail that goes up the hill to the right (south west), you will soon get to Skyline Drive (this trail is intermittently blazed blue). From here you can see part of the lake; behind the lake is the long ridge of Bald Eagle Mountain.
When you reach Skyline Drive, go left (east) about 100 yards to Pavillion #5. Just to the left of the clump of pines is a trail that runs straight down the hill toward the lake. Follow this trail to the first intersection, which is the yellow-blazed Skyline Drive--turn right (west). When you come to the intersection near the Frog Pond, go straight (towards the picnic benches), and follow the yellow blazes of the Butterfly Trail back to your car.
Environmental Focus Group