Celebrate National Outdoors Month!

Celebrate Natonal Outdoors Month!

“The United States is blessed with a wealth of natural diversity that remains at the heart of who we are as a people. … Our natural surroundings animate the American spirit, fuel discovery and innovation, and offer unparalleled opportunities for recreation and learning. During Great Outdoors Month, we celebrate the land entrusted to us by our forebears and resolve to pass it on safely to future generations.”
-President Barack Obama

What better way to participate in National Outdoors Month with friends and family than at PPL’s environmental preserves?  Our preserves offer camping facilities, miles of hiking trails, boating, picnic areas, geocaching and much more for your outdoor adventures. See you there!

 

Bluebirds in a Winter Wonderland

DSCN1363We woke up to a winter wonderland yesterday and the first thing I did when I got to the Environmental Learning Center was grab the camera and head outside. We only got a dusting of snow overnight but it looked beautiful covering all of the trees around the lake. As I hiked around the preserve I noticed the birds were out and singing in full force. The snow had covered up food on the ground and they were looking for their seeds elsewhere, for the most part at our Project Feeder Watch set up just outside the learning center.

BluebirdAs I made my way down to the lake to photograph the snow covered shore, I noticed what I had been waiting for all winter, bluebirds amongst a snow covered staghorn sumac. They had found their breakfast, and there was plenty of it. During one of the first snows of the season sometime in November I spent a good amount of time standing in the frigid cold just trying to get at least one shot of a bluebird picking at red berries in a bush in front of the learning center. With my hands frozen, I unfortunately came away with photographs of just the pretty red berries covered in snow, and no birds. It has been a goal of mine since that day to get a shot of those bluebirds in the snow.

DSCN1370So as I tried to conceal my excitement to keep still and quiet while bringing up the camera for a shot at these bluebirds, I began to notice just how many there were. I took a few good shots, but of course I had to get closer. Here’s where the snow became my enemy because the crunch of it under my feet started to scare them away.

RSCN1398At that point I went from photographer back to naturalist and started to count. There had actually been at least 25 bluebirds in this stand of staghorn sumac. I know we have a good population of bluebirds here because I usually see 3 or 4 everyday, even in the winter. Now I know their favorite spot and I will certainly be checking back for more! They have plenty of places to stay due to our conservation efforts in providing a large number of bluebird boxes at the preserve, most of which were built by a student at Lackawanna College and then decorated by children at our annual Pike-Wayne Earth Day festival.

RSCN1399We are gearing up for the Paupack Plunge on Saturday and the winter wonderland had us wondering what we were thinking when we signed up to be freezin’ for a reason! You should join us in the fun and help support a great cause!

 

-Sarah Hall, PPL Lake Wallenpaupack

Valentine’s Day Giveaway Winners

Happy Valentine’s Day! We are feeling the love! We are overwhelmed by the response to our Valentine’s Day Giveaway and can’t thank you all enough for helping us to reach a larger audience. Four of our lucky followers have been drawn at random for the prizes as follows:

Garmin eTrex Legend GPS- Jennifer Lewis

Bushnell Waterproof 8x42mm Binoculars- Marilee Ruditis

Coleman LED Micro-Quad Lantern- Tom Hector

PPL Bird Feeder with birdseed- John B. Sweigart

Each winner should contact us via e-mail at pplpreserves@pplweb.com with your contact information to receive your prize.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! You are all amazing followers and we look forward to hearing from you here and on Facebook or Twitter! We encourage everyone to share their experiences at our preserves on our PPL Preserves Facebook page, so don’t hesitate to post those great pictures you have!

PPL’s Shuman Point Harvest Completed to Strengthen Forest

Current map of Shuman Point to be revised after the 2012 tree harvest

Current map of Shuman Point to be revised after the 2012 tree harvest

If you’ve ever been to Lake Wallenpaupack, you may have hiked the trails or anchored off PPL’s Shuman Point Natural Area. This 300-acre area of woodland is one of the last undeveloped areas around the lake. Over 120 years ago, all of the trees were harvested from this site. Before the lake was formed in 1926, parts of Shuman Point were farmed. PPL preserved Shuman Point as a natural area, allowing the forest to grow.

For several years beginning in the early 2000’s, tree mortality at Shuman Point became evident due to gypsy moth defoliations, drought and other environmental stresses. Safety concerns were addressed as annual evaluations reflected continual loss of vigor in the top canopy. Due to tree mortality and a reduced deer herd after the winter of 2003, regeneration developed on the forest floor. Because oak trees thrive in full sunlight, PPL took this opportunity to regenerate a section of this forest with a tree species that grows well, is preferred by wildlife and is aesthetically pleasing to visitors.

A carpet of oak seedlings struggling to grow before the harvest was completed, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor.

A carpet of oak seedlings struggling to grow before the harvest was completed, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor.

PPL’s consulting forester, Paul Kowalczyk, took an inventory of all seedlings and mature trees in three stands. Stands are areas in a forest that share common things like tree species, size, forest health, public use, etc. Each stand then received its own “prescription”. In December 2010, the forester marked boundary trees with blue stripes and reserved trees with yellow dots. Blue rectangles painted on trees along the trail are Shuman Point’s trail markers.

In October 2012, the trail was closed to the public and work began. The largest stand, 13-acres between the lake and the trail, is called a riparian forest, which is managed with water quality issues valued above all else. In this area, 50% of the large red oak population had died or was left to decline. Dead or dying trees were removed to make hiking and lake shore exploration safer for the public. Similarly, in a two-acre stand near Rt. 590, only a few trees along the trail needed to be treated. In the last stand, a 10-acre section located south and west of the hiking trail, the area suffered greatly from tree mortality and had great regeneration of mixed oak seedlings. However, the residual overstory trees shaded the young seedlings enough to force them to have stunted, crooked stems. The prescription for this area was to remove all the dead or dying tees, reserving den trees and seed trees of diverse species.

Completed stand on Shuman Point where den and seed trees were reserved

Completed stand on Shuman Point where den and seed trees were reserved

By December 2012, work was completed and the trail reopened. Biodiversity will flourish as this has created an opportunity for new species to inhabit the stands. We expect Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse to enjoy drumming on logs that were left behind. Warblers, hawks, weasels and minks may also move into the stands in the years to come. Forester Paul Kowalczyk will continue to monitor the health of PPL’s Shuman Point Natural Area.

We’d love to hear from you and see any pictures you take on your hikes around the lake. Follow us on facebook, twitter and wordpress, or email pplpreserves@pplweb.com.

Happy hiking!!

-Jenna Wayne, Education and Public Outreach

Montour Travel Bug Update

Montour TB USERThe last time we updated you on the Montour Travel Bug it had journeyed 7, 631 miles in the last 4 years and was making its way around Austria. Now almost five years later it is still in Austria, but has since been taken to several different beautiful locations. This particular travel bug has now logged over 8,100 miles since its release in March of 2007 at PPL’s Montour Environmental Preserve, and for the last 152 miles it has had one particularly good travel guide.
Montour TB Austria1

Geocaching.com user CarinjaMagdalena noted that the PPL keychain flashlight was still lighting up when picked up from a cache in lower Austria. Since then Birgit Rothböck (CarinjaMagdalena) has logged all of the beautiful places this TB has visited. Some of the pictures can be seen here, but for more pictures and a full log of the TB visit our geocaching.com page here. If you’re interested in finding our other cache locations you can also visit our PPL Preserves geocaching page here.
Montour TB Austria2Montour TB Austria3Montour TB Austria4Montour TB Austria5

 




 
Montour TB Austria6

 

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