Along the wind-swept ridgeline overlooking Palmerton, Pennsylvania, a group of six volunteers spent eight weeks this past autumn building a new section of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). The Trail, snaking along the Appalachian Mountains for nearly 2,200 miles, is surprisingly not a static entity — its location shifts slightly year-to-year as new land is conserved and opportunities to move the Trail to a more sustainable location arise.
Source: Appalachian Trail Conservancy
AT Ridge Runner program completes its 30th year
Our ridge runner this year was Maggie Gardner and she did a great job! Maggie and her husband Alex thru-hiked the trail in 2019. He was on track to being a ridge runner in 2020, but the pandemic interrupted those plans. He is currently employed as a botanist so could not now pursue ridge running, but Maggie, a nurse by profession, decided to take a break and to become a ridge runner for a season to give back and to reconnect with the trail experience that had been so important to both of them.
She seems to have succeeded in those goals while again rediscovering some of the solitude and the wilderness experience so intrinsic to the trail, while connecting with a variety of trail users. She also said that she learned through her involvement and work with volunteers from several maintaining clubs about the work that goes into preserving and protecting that experience for current and future users of the trail. She has now returned to South Carolina to be with her husband. She will be missed.
A ridge runner is a seasonal paid five day a week position to help educate users of the Appalachian Trail about Leave No Trace while helping to care for and protect the trail in partnership with the local maintaining clubs including our chapter.
Ridge runners have been deployed along many sections of the AT from Maine to Georgia in areas of higher impact and usage. A 42-mile section of trail above the Lehigh Valley included in this program may have increased usage due to its proximity to the population centers in Lehigh Valley, easy access from the New York and New Jersey areas, along with many road access points including the Delaware Water Gap.
This program has continued since 1992 with continuing grants from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, plus our chapter and trails volunteers working in partnership with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the trails staff of AMC.
The DV Chapter has been proud to continue supporting this program along with other trail clubs with volunteer time, work and with financial support.
article by, Bill Steinmetz
The Hope to Restore the American Chestnut in Pennsylvania
American chestnut trees, once numbering in the billions, have been decimated by a fungus called blight. Today there are approximately 435 million but few reproduce.
Snakes in a Park
By Richard Puglisi
Copperheads! Hard to believe, but that’s what the sign said during a recent hike at Ringing Rocks Park. Wow, and Ringing Rocks has always been such as nice safe place. The ideal location for a fun family outing.
It seems the signs resulted from a July, 2021 incident where a teenager was bitten by a copperhead at the park. It was so bad that she needed to be sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be treated with anti-venom treatments every six hours. Her hand had swollen to four times its original size.
Maybe not so unusual when you consider that copperheads along with timber rattlesnakes, both venomous, are common across Pennsylvania. There was an incident in 2015 when two people were bitten at Ohiophyle State Park. A copperhead struck when a rafter stepped on one in a rocky area and another when a person was walking near the restrooms.
An adult copperhead can reach 2-3 feet with a body color of copper or hazel-brown. They like wooded hillsides, stone walls and piles of rock, not to mention rotting logs and large, flat stones located near water. They are fond of rodents, especially mice.
Copperheads are said to be quiet creatures and usually do their best to avoid trouble. Though if threatened and they feel the need to protect themselves, they will strike out vigorously. Venom is injected through two hollow fangs connected to glands located on each side of the head. The injection of venom is painful but with prompt medical attention seldom poses any serious threat to human life. According to the Penn State Poison Center, if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, the most important thing is to stay calm and call 911 or go to a hospital immediately.
In the vast majority of snake encounters, people have ample opportunity to stop, backup or otherwise avoid the snake. If you give snakes a bit of respectable space, you should be fine. Don’t poke them with sticks or throw things at them. Be careful, be cautious and let’s enjoy our parks and the outdoors.
Chimborazo: The Highest Mountain in the World
That is, if you measure from the center of the earth. This extinct stratovolcano is 20,549 feet above sea level, but because it lies on the equator in Ecuador, it sits in the maximum part of the Earth’s equatorial bulge. Its peak is the farthest from Earth’s center, and the closest point on our planet to the Sun. Measured from sea level, it is only the 37th highest in the Andes. Aconcagua in Chile at 22,283 feet is the highest.
The biggest mountain in the world by far is Denali, in Alaska. It is a “mere” 20,310 feet high, but it rises from a 2,000 foot base with an immense bulk that dwarfs all other mountains in the world. Denali means “the great one” in the indigenous Koyukon language. However…
If you include the undersea part of mountains, the Big Island of Hawai’i, topped by Mauna Kea at 13,803 feet above sea level, is even taller and bigger, rising more than 32,000 feet from the depths. In geologic terms it is a youngster, only about a million years old.
If you love butterflies, don’t plant butterfly bush!
Rip it out, if you have some. Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) helps exterminate butterfly populations, and is detrimental to songbird populations, too. Native to China, it is not edible by the caterpillars of our butterflies. Sure, it attracts them with its nectar, but the butterflies lay their eggs on the plant and their offspring starve to death.
Songbirds, even the vegetarian species, feed their young almost entirely on caterpillars. It takes at least 2,000 caterpillars to raise a nest of cardinals. Doves are the only exception.
Plant milkweed! Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, a native plant that produces beautiful fragrant flowers will attract many butterflies. There are also many other native species of milkweed that are equally good. If you care about butterflies and songbirds, a good rule is to plant native species. You would be amazed at how many beautiful garden plants are native to our area.
The First DCNR Director of Outdoor Recreation
Pennsylvania appoints its first director of outdoor recreation, Nathan Reigner, who will be part of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
BeOnlineWithAMC: Taking Advantage of Land & Water Conservation Fund Full Funding in the Delaware River Watershed
Thursday, February 10, 2022, 1:30PM – 3:00PM
An opportunity to bring together the staff who administer LWCF stateside grants in multiple states with nonprofit partners who’ve worked mostly on federal LWCF investments, and discuss the opportunities presented by the Great American Outdoors Act’s full permanent funding of LWCF. With more money coming in, we want the project pipeline to be as strong and diverse as possible! The stateside administrators will be able to compare and contrast their state’s approaches and foster greater community outreach and collaboration.
Please register in advance for this webinar:
The River of No Return: Rafting Idaho’s Salmon River with Mark Zakutansky
Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30 PM
Nestled deep in the middle of the 2-million-acre Frank Church Wilderness Area lies the Salmon River, a corridor only accessible as a multi-day whitewater rafting adventure with rapids of class IV difficulty. The 82-mile gorge of the Salmon River ending in Riggins, Idaho, crosses through historic and prehistoric sites and homesteads while traversing the most rugged peaks and ranges of the entire Rocky Mountain range hundreds of miles from civilization. Join Mark Zakutansky on photographic journey of this unique 6-day, 5-night experience, as the group planned and executed this excursion without any guides or professional support tackling travel logistics, food planning, safety, equipment, and permitting, ensuring a successful and enjoyable trip including thrilling rapids, side hikes, iconic wildlife, hot springs, and even costume parties.
Information on upcoming outdoor events will be available. Everyone is welcome. Contact coordinator with any questions
View the recorded presentation in the link below.
Reauthorize the Highlands Conservation Act
Many AMC DV members have enjoyed stays at Harriman, and many use (and maintain) trails in other areas of the Pennsylvania and New York Highlands. The current and future health of these lands depends on the Highlands Conservation Act, which expires at the end of this year.
There are two bills now in Congress, H.R.2793 and S.753, that would reauthorize this valuable program, but they need to be voted on. Please ask your members of Congress to bring these bills to a vote as soon as possible.
Annual Meeting set for Thursday November 4, to be held online, 7 to 8 PM.
The election of next year’s Executive Committee will take place, and all DV chapter members may vote. The meeting is free, and in addition to the election, we will present our annual awards and provide information on our latest programs and activities.
You must register to attend.
2022 Executive Committee nominees
Chair, Karla Geissler
Vice Chair, Kathy Kelly-Borowski
Secretary, Midori Wakabayashi
Treasurer, Margaret McDonald
Backpacking, Steven Campanelli
Communication, Eric Pavlak
Conservation, Adrian Noble
Diversity, Marcia Telthorster
Family Activities, Annette Sheldon
Hiking, Blase Hartman
Leadership, Ron Phelps
Membership, Lisa Chou
Paddling, Eric Pavlak
Social, Annette Sheldon
Trails, Greg Bernet
20s-30s Members, Katie Barok
If you wish to volunteer for one of the three open positions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naturalist Photo Contest!
Take, identify, and submit photos of plants, animals, and fungi that you come across while out-and-about in and around the Delaware River for chances to win great outdoor-related prizes!
The Delaware River Means Biodiversity contest is your chance to connect on a more thoughtful level with the natural world around you.
The Delaware River Watershed provides a thriving home to hundreds of species and if you look closely enough, you will be able to find them just about anywhere!
Contest Link: Delaware River Means | Delaware River Means Biodiversity | Campaign
Facebook Page: Delaware River Means | Facebook
The valuable community science tool, iNaturalist, is a great way to get involved with researchers and help further their science while also giving you the opportunity to learn something new! Simply record your observations, share with fellow iNaturalists, and discuss your findings. Each of your observations will contribute to biodiversity science by helping scientists collect and use your data. iNaturalist is a free, easy-to-use app that anyone can enjoy!
Job Opportunity: Conservation Outreach Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is seeking a talented and enthusiastic conservation advocate and public policy professional to lead our coalition-based work to advance conservation and recreation in the Mid-Atlantic Region, based out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A qualified candidate will be enthusiastic about AMC’s conservation and recreation mission, have a proven track record as a skilled communicator, and will have experience in community and constituency engagement around environmental and outdoor recreation issues.
The Conservation Outreach Manager is primarily focused on eastern Pennsylvania but will support other AMC conservation initiatives from northern Virginia to Connecticut. Priority initiatives include state and federal legislative and regulatory public policy issues in the region that seek to combat and prepare for climate change; protect the region’s landscape and waters; and advance equitable access to the outdoors.
National Park Service issues draft plan for Water Gap, invites public comment, schedules meetings
Plan includes new camp sites, facilities, entrance fees.
The National Park Service has issued a draft Visitor Use Management Plan for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River. The draft plan is available for public review and comment for until December 6, 2019 at their web site.
In addition proposing an to an entrance fee, which has yet to be established, the plan also proposes a park-specific seven-day pass: $25 for a vehicle, $15 for a person, and $20 for a motorcycle, and a $45 annual pass. The new entrance fee would mean changes to existing amenity fees and the park’s entrance stations. The plan calls for expansion and improvement of visitor facilities and amenities, including additional river camp sites.
In addition to public comment submitted on line and by mail, there will be two public meetings:
Thursday, October 24, 6 – 8 PM, Bushkill Volunteer Fire Company Hall, 124 Evergreen Drive, Bushkill, PA 18324
Saturday, October 26, 1-3 PM, Sussex County Technical School Auditorium, 105 North Church Road, Sparta, NJ 07871
Take the Kittatinny Ridge Recognition and Identification Survey
The Kittatinny Ridge (the Ridge) is Pennsylvania’s longest contiguous forested ridge. This long mountain range is familiar to many. It is the large forested expanse that one can view to the left when you travel north on Interstate 81 from the Maryland border and continue east on Interstate 78. It’s where many go to play, relax, enjoy nature, and get away from it all. Click here for more information and to take the survey.
Take Action: Demand Full and Dedicated Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Now is our chance to finally secure permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The United States Senate is reviewing S.1081, a bi-partisan bill to permanently provide $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Write to your Senators today asking for their support of S.1081 by joining as a co-sponsor.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a visionary and bipartisan federal funding program for protecting our nation’s most special places. From Sterling Forest in the New York Highlands, to White Cap Mountain in Maine, to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has funded the protection of some of our most iconic landscapes and trails in the Northeast. Earlier this year, we celebrated the permanent re-authorization of the Land Water Conservation Fund, but without dedicated funding Congress’ work is not complete.
Write to your Senators in support of funding for LWCF.