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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: September 2015

Sep
30
2015

Chesapeake Forest Champions honored for conservation efforts

Conserving forests is critical to clean water, and honoring the champions of these vital habitats is central to the work of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. At its tenth annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum, the organization, with support from the U.S. Forest Service, recognized four Chesapeake Forest Champions: a non-profit protecting urban trees, a partnership promoting Pennsylvania forest buffers, a landowner duo managing a stewardship-certified forest and a leader in sustainable forest management.

Across the watershed, forests are disappearing at an average rate of 100 acres per day. This can mean less habitat for wildlife and more pollution flowing into rivers and streams. But the examples set by Chesapeake Forest Champions act as reminders of the local action that can restore the region’s resources.

Anne and Carl Little of Tree Fredricksburg receive the "Most Effective at Engaging the Public" Forest Champion award during the 2015 Chesapeake Watershed Forum in Shepherdstown, W. Va., on Sept. 25, 2015.

Tree Fredericksburg, led by Anne and Carl Little, was named Most Effective at Engaging the Public for its work supporting a vibrant urban forest in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The largely volunteer organization has facilitated the planting of close to 4,000 trees since 2007—721 trees in 2014 alone. Each tree is looked after for two years after it is planted, and volunteers of all ages are trained in planting, mulching and pruning the trees.

Craig Highfield, left, of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, presents a Forest Champion award for "Greatest on the Ground Impact" to, from left, Cathy Yeakel, Jen Johns and Mike Hanawalt of the Bradford County CREP Partnership.

A group of partners in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, was commended for Greatest On-the-Ground Impact. Through their efforts, the group has helped implement more than 3,000 acres of streamside forest buffers since the beginning of Pennsylvania’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which compensates farmers in exchange for using their land for high-priority conservation issues. At the awards event, the group was represented by Cathy Yeakel from Bradford County Conservation District, Jen Johns from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Mike Hanawalt from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Christine and Fred Andreae receive the Forest Champion Exemplary Forest Steward Award from Craig Highfield of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Virginia landowners Christine and Fred Andreae were recognized as Exemplary Forest Stewards. The pair actively manages close to 800 acres of land, which are protected under conservation easements and covered by six Forest Stewardship Management Plans. Their properties include a wildlife corridor that connects George Washington National Forest to Shenandoah National Park, as well as Milford Battlefield, a historical site from the Civil War. More than 2,000 feet of trails wind alongside the wildlife habitat, streamside plantings and native wildflowers on their property.

Don Outen of Baltimore County Environmental Protection and Sustainability receives the Forest Champion Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2015 Chesapeake Watershed Forum.

Don Outen received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 42 years of land use planning and forest management. For nearly three decades, Outen has worked at the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, where he was instrumental in developing the county’s renowned Forest Sustainability program. As part of the Maryland Sustainable Forestry Council, Outen helped develop recommendations for the state’s “No Net Loss” policy for forests. He also serves as a member of the national Sustainable Forests roundtable.



Sep
24
2015

Photo Essay: Protecting land in Otsego County – Greenwoods Conservancy

Earle Peterson of Cooperstown, N.Y., drives through his conserved property in Burlington, N.Y., on May 23, 2015. Peterson’s 1200 acres, dubbed Greenwoods Conservancy, is conserved through Otsego Land Trust, which recently celebrated 10,000 acres conserved.

Resting on the northern edge of the Appalachian plateau—just outside of Cooperstown, New York—are the 1,200 acres of land that make up The Greenwoods Conservancy. Earle Peterson, owner of the property, works with the Otsego Land Trust to permanently preserve the land through conservation easement. In addition to ensuring that the land remains undeveloped, it will serve as an educational, visual and environmental resource for the surrounding community, as well as a place protect the valued plants and wildlife that are indigenous to central New York.

A beaver swims across a pond at Greenwoods Conservancy on May 23, 2015. Peterson keeps a beaver dam small to avoid flooding cranberry bog. “We’re trying to keep a balance so the unique plants can survive,” Peterson said. “If the beavers flood it, it’s over.”

The seven conservation easements that make up the conservancy were obtained over time, with the first purchase in 1993 and the final plot added in 2001. “Earle has what we at Otsego Land Trust call a ‘conservation heart,’” explained Virginia Kennedy, Executive Director of the Otsego Land Trust. “Meaning that the desire to protect land and water lives inside him at the very heart of who he is.  Protecting the lands of The Greenwoods Conservancy meant protecting a place that is both special for and necessary to, not just Earle, but the whole community who benefits when lands like the lands of Greenwoods are conserved.”

Earle Peterson stands on a dock facing Cranberry Bog, a pristine 70-acre wetland Greenwoods Conservancy, on May 23, 2015. “Otter, beaver, lots of ducks. We see bald and golden eagles. They do not nest here but they’re regular visitors. Osprey fish here a lot,” Peterson said.

Powerlines were built through Greenwoods Conservancy in the 1980s.

Spruce trees start to crowd a cabin that is used for summer housing for graduate students at Greenwoods Conservancy on May 23, 2015. “It used to be great to sit on the deck here and swing in the late afternoon with a beer in your hand.”

A diverse array of landscapes make up the conservancy: from a high elevation cranberry bog that provides habitat for many rare wetland species, to a sustainably managed forest for timber products, to meadows that are maintained for bird habitat and used by SUNY Oneonta for research and education. Conserving all of the land has taken a great deal of time, but to Peterson, it is all worth it in the name of conservation. “I told my wife [when we got married], ‘You have to understand that I have a mistress, and her name is Mother Nature. And like most mistresses, she’s very expensive,’” Peterson said.

An eastern painted turtle stops on a road through Greenwoods Conservancy. Turtles often lay their eggs near the roadside, next to a pond.

Wild turkeys roam at Greenwoods Conservancy on May 23, 2015.

Canada geese raise goslings in a pond at Greenwoods Conservancy on May 23, 2015.

Cranberry Bog’s isolation and altitude make it ideal for research, which is carried out regularly by the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station. “Because of the elevation this is much more similar to a bog that you’d find in Quebec, or perhaps northern Maine,” Peterson said.

A heron flies above a large floating sphagnum mat that covers part of Cranberry Bog.

A fern grows in the woods at Greenwoods Conservancy.

Earle Peterson follows a trail leading away from Cranberry Bog at Greenwoods Conservancy in Burlington, N.Y., on May 23, 2015. Though there is no unattended public access at Greenwoods, several times a year the public can take advantage of docent-led walks or visits by sanctioned hiking groups.

This is the final installment in a series of three profiles of property owners that are protecting their land through the Otsego Land Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the natural heritage of woodlands, farmlands and waters that sustain rural communities, promote public health, support wildlife diversity and inspire the human spirit. 

Images by Will Parson
Text by Jenna Valente

Jenna Valente's avatar
About Jenna Valente - Jenna developed a passion for conservation through her outdoorsy nature and upbringing in Hawaii, Washington State and Maine. A graduate of Virginia Tech's Executive Master of Natural Resources program and University of Maine's School of Communication and Journalism, she welcomes any opportunity to educate the public about the importance of caring for the environment.



Sep
17
2015

Photo Essay: Protecting Land in Otsego County – Cornish Hill

Marion Karl poses with her dog Leila at the top of a hill on her property in Cooperstown, N.Y., on May 21, 2015. The hill is part of Karl’s 173 acres in a conservation easement, and she hikes to it almost daily to take in a view of Otsego Lake.

To many people, the concept of home can be a visceral experience, a concept that churns up a number of varied memories and emotions. In its most basic form, home refers to a place where one lives permanently—but to someone like Marion Karl, a seasoned traveler as a daughter of missionaries, it serves as a place to lay down deep roots in a community, a place that deserves to be preserved and protected.

Otsego County is home to Cooperstown, N.Y., and Otsego Lake, pictured on May 21, 2015. The Otsego Land Trust recently celebrated reaching the 10,000-acre milestone in conserved lands.

Karl purchased her land on Otsego Lake—just outside of Cooperstown, New York—in three different parcels. “As soon as we [Karl and her husband] bought our house, I started looking for land,” Karl explained. “Now, I have 173 acres, which I bought in three different parcels. I bought 100 with the first purchase. Later on, a lumber company wanted to come in to cut some trees across the way and I thought, ‘That would be terrible,’” leading her to purchase the remaining property and place it under conservation easement though the Otsego Land Trust in 2008 to ensure its protection is in perpetuity.

A ruffed grouse pauses amid Karl’s trees, which can only be cut down under the guidance of a certified forester.

Over the years, Karl’s property has embodied the sense of ‘home’ for her and her family, and now it will be preserved for generations to come. “When I walk with Marion on her land, her love for the forests and fields of her protected place is evident in her eyes, her conversation, and the way she knows every inch of the paths we travel,” said Virginia Kennedy, Executive Director of the Otsego Land Trust.

Karl stops to smell blooming pinxter azalea bushes on her property in Cooperstown, N.Y., on May 21, 2015. “These two were transplanted,” said Karl, who was told by a forester that the trees would overshadow them when they got larger.

A cabin on Karl’s property offers a quiet retreat from downtown Cooperstown, just a few miles away. Nearby is a lean-to that Karl’s oldest son built when he was 16 years old.

Karl’s cabin features a loft and a solar shower.

Karl, who was born to missionaries in India, keeps a collection of flags from every country she has visited.

Bird boxes are arranged in pairs on Karl’s property to let territorial bluebirds coexist with other species.

In the winter time, trails on Karl’s property become paths for cross-country skiing. “The new [cross-country skiing] technique requires wider trails,” Karl said.

Karl stands near a small pond on her property, in Cooperstown’s Cornish Hill.

This is the second of a series of three profiles of property owners that are protecting their land through the Otsego Land Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserves the natural heritage of woodlands, farmlands and waters that sustain rural communities, promote public health, support wildlife diversity and inspire the human spirit.

To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Flickr page.

Photos by Will Parson
Text by Jenna Valente

Jenna Valente's avatar
About Jenna Valente - Jenna developed a passion for conservation through her outdoorsy nature and upbringing in Hawaii, Washington State and Maine. A graduate of Virginia Tech's Executive Master of Natural Resources program and University of Maine's School of Communication and Journalism, she welcomes any opportunity to educate the public about the importance of caring for the environment.



Sep
16
2015

Restoration Spotlight: From 'open sewer' to Class A trout stream

As the clear, cold waters of the Little Juniata River rush through the forests and farmland of central Pennsylvania, hidden spring holes and rocky boulders provide hideaways for the cautious brown trout. Above water, Bill Anderson is teaching longtime friend John Norton the basics of fly fishing, in the hopes of catching one of these popular sport fish. “Fly fishing provides a means to get to be in nature as a participant instead of a spectator,” Anderson describes. “You’re there actively seeking a target, in this case the trout. And there’s something very primal and addictive about the infrequent benefit that comes from standing in cold water and tossing a fly at a spot on the water where you think a fish is going to take it.”

The Little Juniata—or “Little J”—is a sanctuary for fly fishermen on the East Coast. Little-known to outsiders, it attracts fishermen from across the region who hope to catch brown trout in its cool waters. But just a few decades ago, fishing in the Little Juniata River seemed unthinkable. “Well, the Little Juniata River is not well-known nationally, primarily because it’s only been a trout stream since around 1975,” Anderson says. “The reason being that prior to that it was literally an open sewer.”

Bill Anderson, President of the Little Juniata River Association, catches a 15-inch wild brown trout in the Little Juniata River in Blair County, Pa., on May 19, 2015. The Little Juniata River Association has secured roughly five miles of permanent fishing access with help from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, and has implemented restoration projects to reduce sediment in the river.

A long history of pollution from municipal sources, nearby tanneries and a paper mill had degraded the river into what Anderson calls a “dead stream.” And after a mysterious pollution event in 1997 destroyed much of the waterway’s aquatic insect and invertebrate population—essentially starving the brown trout—the community had had enough. “We never determined the cause. But several local people got together who loved the river and decided that wasn’t going to happen again,” says Anderson, current president of the nonprofit organization that emerged: the Little Juniata River Association (LJRA).

Anderson attaches a fly after snagging his line while fishing the Little Juniata. He uses different lures based on what the fish are eating, which he determines by sampling the macroinvertebrates living in the water.

For a handful years after its foundation, the LJRA sat dormant: most of the few dozen members had drifted away and meetings were infrequent. But in the decade since Anderson became its president, the group has transformed nearly as much as the river itself. The purely-volunteer organization now boasts more than 200 members, and its mission includes not just monitoring of the river, but the improvement of the whole watershed. Activities range from restoring stream banks to protecting fish habitat. More than 1,400 feet of stream bank has been repaired to prevent excess sediment from entering the river, where it can block sunlight from reaching underwater plants and smother bottom-dwelling species. The nonprofit also hosts an annual trash pick-up, clearing 20 miles of riverbank of litter and debris.

Anderson shows a collection of his self-tied fly fishing lures. “All winter long I’m teaching fly tying classes to beginners and others,” Anderson said. “It keeps me going year-round.”

These days, the LJRA is focused on the future. With changing climate conditions come rising water temperatures, which can be devastating for the health of cold-water fish like brown trout. In association with Juniata College, the LJRA tagged 24 mature trout to determine where the fish go when water temperatures warm. “The idea is let the trout lead us to the places that need to be improved, and then we’ll set about improving those pieces and parts of the river, whether for spawning or for refuge from heat,” Anderson explains.

Anderson fishes with longtime friend John Norton in the Little Juniata River on May 19.

Just as important to Anderson as the health of the trout is the opportunity for others—like his friend Norton—to fish for them. In recent years, private fishing clubs have purchased and leased land along the river, requiring expensive memberships for fishermen to access the stream. But with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the LJRA has worked with landowners to establish more than five miles of permanent public fishing easements. “We’re not done,” says Anderson. “We won’t be done until all 32 miles of river are permanently publicly accessible. We want to make sure this resource stays open for our children and grandchildren.”

To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Flickr page.

Images and captions by Will Parson
Text by Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith's avatar
About Stephanie Smith - Stephanie is the Web Content Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Program. A native of the Midwest, she received her Bachelor’s in Professional Writing from Purdue University and Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan. Stephanie’s lifelong love of nature motivates her to explore solutions to environmental problems and teach others what they can do to help.



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