Volume 3 January - March
Your All-Access Guide to Columbia & Montour Counties!
Photo by: Kevin Ly | @kevinly
CONTENTS Table Of
New Opportunities for Wintertime Outdoor Fun 4
9 10 Catawissa Creek Up For River of the Year 16
A Frosty Winter Morning at the Susquehanna Riverlands
Quarterly Covered Bridge Feature: The 300-Year Flood
Birdwatching in Your Backyard 24 Events Calendar 20
The Show Goes On: 44 Years of Theatre in Bloomsburg 27
Member Spotlight 29
Your WINTER Adventure Begins in COLUMBIA & MONTOUR Counties
for Wintertime Outdoor Fun in montour county
From the desk of Bob Stoudt, Executive Director of the Montour Area Recreation Commisssion
The Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC) is excited to announce new opportunities for outdoor fun in our region this winter. Thanks to the ongoing support of the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau and the Montour County Commissioners, as well as the generous donations of local businesses and individuals including LIVIC Civil, Brookside Nursery, Ski Valley Bike, Board, Ski & Skate, Stetler Insurance, Sori Lawn Care & Landscaping, Frosty Valley Resort, Animal Care Center, and TS and Karen Scott, MARC has been able to purchase a new Snowdog trail vehicle (learn more at www.snowdog.com), as well as trail grooming attachments for both cross-country skiing and singletrack mountain biking.
local trails for cross-country skiing and fat tire mountain biking. Specifically, MARC plans to groom trails for cross- country skiing at the Hess Recreation Area (Hess Loop Trail), the Montour Preserve (Chilisuagi Trail and Goose Woods Trail), and the North Branch Canal Trail. MARC plans to groom the trails at the Hopewell Park / Danville Borough Farm Trail System for fat tire mountain biking. Additional trails may be added if conditions allow.
According to Bob Stoudt, MARC Director, “MARC has been working for more than sixteen years to acquire, develop, and promote park and trail resources in our community. We are extremely fortunate to now have more than 38 miles of trails in more than 2,100 acres of publicly-accessible lands throughout Montour County,
Snowdog photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
As a result, when the snow flies this winter, MARC staff and volunteers will get to work grooming some of our favorite
including more than 26 miles of trails under MARC’s management. In Montour and Columbia Counties combined, that total increases to more than 150 miles of trails on nearly 100,000 acres of publicly-accessible lands at 70 locations. Residents and visitors to our area will find an outstanding range of wintertime outdoor recreational options. The addition toMARC’s inventory of the Snowdog vehicle and accessories will allow us to take these opportunities to the next level so that even more visitors can get outdoors and enjoy the amazing resources our region has to offer.” Stoudt notes that 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Montour Preserve. Constructed by PPL in 1972 to provide a backup source of water for the nearby coal-fired Montour Plant, Lake Chillisquaque and the surrounding Montour Preserve have been a year-round destination for outdoor recreation and environmental education for generations of local residents and visitors alike. “Ice fishing, wintertime hiking, and wintertime educational programming such as the maple sugaring program have always been very popular at the Montour Preserve” Stoudt noted. “The ability to begin grooming trails for cross- country skiing at the Preserve in 2022 is a great way for us to celebrate the site’s 50th anniversary.” MARC recently announced the dates for the 2022 maple sugaring programs at the Montour Preserve. Open houses will be held on Saturday, February 26, 2022 from 12pm – 4pm and again on Sunday, March 13, 2022 from 12pm – 4pm. Admission is free for both events, but donations are welcome.
Jon Beam (right) discussing maple sugaring at the 2020 event.
Deb Steransky (right) presents to a group of interested youth.
Visitors will be directed to the Montour Preserve’s sugar shack along the Goose Woods Trail where they
will learn about the cultural andnatural history ofmaple sugaring and have the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of maple sugaring. All programming for the 2022 open houses will be conducted outdoors to mitigate against COVID-19 concerns. The sugar bush movie typically shown in the auditorium will not be presented. MARC anticipates that maple products will be available for purchase both days. Field trips for school groups and community organizations can also be scheduled by contacting Jon Beam, MARC Assistant Director / Naturalist, at (570) 772-4021 or JBeam@MontourRec.com. More information about the Montour Area Recreation Commission is available at www.montourrec.com. More info about the Montour Preserve, including the maple sugaring programming, is available at www. montourpreserve.org. Mappingof local parks and trails, as well as a wealth of information about all the places to eat, stay, and play in our community, is available at www.itourcolumbiamontour.com/outdoorrecmap.
Maple sugaring at the Preserve is an amazing process!
Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine Tunnel 21_Layout 1 2/12/21 2:27 PM Page 1 Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine
CELEBRATING 60 YEARS!
Tour a real coal mine and take a ride on an old- fashioned steam locomotive. Both tours are guided. Open April - October Tour a real coal mine and take a ride on an old- fashioned steam locomotive. Both tours are gui ed. Open April - October 19th & Oak Streets Ashland, PA 17921 570-875-3850 Tour a real coal mine and take a ride on an old- fashioned steam locomotive. Both tours are guided. Open April - October www.pioneertunnel.com VISIT US ON Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine 19th & Oak Streets As land, PA 17921 570-875-3850
PIONEER DAY! JUNE 4, 2022
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19th & Oak Streets Ashland, PA 17921 570-875-3850
shop after your tour & be sure to take home a box of original Coal Candy!
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Inn 21 - Half_Layout 1 6/11/21 10:01 AM Page 1
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SUSQUEHANNA RIVERLANDS A Frosty Winter Morning at the by Jenn Puckett
The Susquehanna Riverlands is 1200 acres of public-use land on either side of the Susquehanna River just north of Berwick off Route 11. It designated as an “Important Bird Area” by the Nation- al Audubon Society. Over 230 species of birds have been spotted at this place. I’d been there before on spring and fall days but not in the winter. On a cold morning in mid-December, I thought it was time for a revisit.
Before you go The Susquehanna Riverlands are open from 8:00 am to dusk dai- ly. Admission is free. Wear sturdy footwear. The terrain is mostly level and easy to walk. Some parts can be muddy or wet depend- ing on the season. Pavilions are available - they are first come, first serve. Restrooms are also available. Take lots of pictures and leave only footprints. And be sure to use #itourcolumbiamontour when sharing your photos. They could be the featured photos of the week on Instagram! I had a wonderful time on this chilly morning and can’t wait to revisit this gem again. Even though it’s cold weather season, remember to get outside and nurture your spirit! After the Susquehanna Warrior Trail, I spent some time at Lake Took-a-While, which was created by connecting two ponds. There were plenty of benches to stop and rest. The lake is a haven for fishermen and is regularly stocked with many differ- ent species. (All PA fishing regulations apply to the lake.) The highlight of my day was spotting a bald eagle soaring past. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture, but I was too amazed to get my camera out.
One of the nice things about getting outdoors in what is consid- ered the off season is the solitude. I spend quite a bit of time out- side, usually with my family. I had forgotten how pleasant it could be to be alone. I stopped first at the Wetlands Nature Area and was the only visitor. On one side was the Susquehanna River and the wetlands with numerous trails on the other. I heard the rush of the river, shrill crow calls, and the whispers of wind. As I started off down the trail into the wetlands, I observed small ponds, tiny streams and thought about all the amazing wildlife that will re- emerge in the spring. The next stop on my journey was the main parking lot of the Riv- erlands. The beginning of the Susquehanna Warrior Trail starts here, on the east side of the railroad tracks. The trail then contin- ues steadily northward for just over 12 miles into Nanticoke. It’s open to bicycling, running, walking and cross-country skiing. I walked for a mile or so on it, accompanied only by squirrels chat- tering at me and a few white tail deer.
Catawissa Creek Up for River of the Year
CREEK IS AN EXAMPLE OF COLLABORATION, PERSISTENCE IN TACKLING ABANDONED MINE DRAINAGE ISSUES
Approximately of Pennsylvania waterways are impacted by abandoned mine drainage issues, according to the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR). 5,500 miles Yet, only a small percentage of them offer the immediate bounce-back potential of the 41.8-mile Catawissa Creek, which flows from underground mine tunnels in the tip of Carbon County through Schuylkill and Columbia counties before entering the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in Catawissa. “The stream itself may be the perfect example of sand and gravel, cobble and boulders – an ideal habitat for fish, microorganisms, benthic macroinvertebrates and all the thing that make up the food web that support the fish that so many people go after,” said Ed Wytovich, president of the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association (CCRA). “It is a drop-dead gorgeous watershed.”
buffer throughout most of its entire length,” said Wytovich. “It also has about 15 tributaries that hold wild brook trout populations. All the ingredients are there for success once the main body of water is cleaned up.” The creek’s potential is one of the main reasons it was nominated – and is now a finalist for -- the 2022 River of the Year designation. Voting is open now through 5 p.m. Jan. 14, 2022. You can vote once per email address, so please consider voting as many times as you can.
via River of the Year designation, the Catawissa can offer a valuable blueprint for similar waterways impacted by abandoned mine drainage.”
Abandoned Tunnels Wreak Havoc on Aquatic Life
Five mine tunnels which were drilled to dewater mines and reduce the amount of pumping needed by coal miners decades ago, discharges water into Catawissa Creek that – before treatment – is high in acidity and aluminum deposits. “Even though the mines were shut down a long time ago, we are still stuck with what’s left of that era because the tunnels are still open and we have water flowing out of them,” said Wytovich. “In the 1960s and 70s, a study looked specifically at the Audenried tunnel, which runs about three miles from the mines until the water exits. It was found to carry about 80 percent of the acid load that kills, literally, the Catawissa Creek. If we were able to fix the issues coming out of the Audenried tunnel, we would restore 40 miles of stream.”
VOTE HERE FOR CATAWISSA CREEK
“River of the Year designation would go a long way toward helping a growing coalition of associations, agencies and individuals clear the final hurdles in cleaning up Catawissa Creek thanks to the increased opportunities for education and awareness,” said Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper John Zaktansky. “Catawissa Creek provides an important example of how persistence and collaboration can truly make a difference in these sort of situations. Through the megaphone provided
Also in the Catawissa’s favor are its location and surroundings.
“The stream goes through some really rural areas that are both forested and farmland. It has a wonderful riparian
The CCRA, in conjunction with the Schuylkill and Columbia county conservation districts and EPCAMR,
Article & Podcast by John Zaktansky, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association
Images compliments of Columbia County Conservation District's Aaron Eldred, ECAMR's Bobby Hughes and Steve Cornia and CCRA's Ed Wytovich.
have been working to achieve that goal, coordinating successful treatment of two of the othermine tunnel discharges and attempting a similar project on the Audenried in the past.
A second mine tunnel, Oneida 3, has also been successfully treated with a passive system.
“Initially we had access to limestone sand at a great price and the Army National Guard provided transportation to bring it up. They were very enthusiastic and doing a great job, but due to world events at that time, it just didn’t work out,” said Wytovich. Considering the success at Oneida 1, a similar treatment system on a much larger scale was pursued for Audenried. It included large concrete tanks where water was run through a system of pipes through the limestone to be neutralized and then through a series of settling ponds where the aluminum could settle out before the water was discharged back into the stream. “In the fall of 2005, we got that up and running through a series of grants and it had really good effects. It brought the pH up to between 6 and 6.5 and was precipitating out quite a bit of the aluminum,” said Wytovich. “We had a dedication in the June of 2006, with a lot of people coming out to see what was going on.”
“It consists of a large concrete tank about 120 feet in diameter and 10 feet deep which is filled with limestone,” said Wytovich. “Water is diverted from the tunnel through the system and comes out with a pH around 6.5 and aluminum levels much more reasonable. These two systems are working.” With the Oneida 1 and 3 tunnels treated and negligible impacts from the Catawissa and Green Mountain tunnels, the Audenried is the only discharge standing in the way of the Catawissa Creek reaching its potential. “The discharge averages around 8,500 gallons per minute of water – so it is a good flow. The pH is sometimes down in the high-3s, like a 3.8, to a 4.3 on better days,” said Wytovich. “It is an Anthracite area with a fairly high aluminum content which is toxic to fish and pretty much everything else in the stream.”
One of those tunnels, Oneida 1, is in the Eagle Rock development near Hazleton.
“That dischargehas a pH that is normally a little over 4 to 4.5 and carries some aluminum and a negligible amount of iron. We put a project there in 2001 that has six beds of limestone that the mine water is fed through and it comes out with an average pH of 6.5, which is about ideal for brook trout,” said Wytovich.
Unfortunately, 10 days later, a flood caused massive damage to the system.
Efforts to treat the Audenried have historically hit unexpected hurdles.
“It seemed that the mine backed up
and blew out and a lot of black water came down. The volume of water was just incredible,” said Wytovich. “It plugged up all the pipes in the bottom of the tanks and plugged up some of the other plumbing and everything turned black from the coal and silt that washed out of the mine.”
another flood blew out the intake and collapsed the mine opening from where the water discharged.
in order to do additional repairs and maintenance, so everything since then has been up in the air. “The good news is that the state is in the process of buying all the land at the headwaters. When that comes to pass, then the Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation has Audenried on a list of projects of streams to get a treatment system that would take care of the Catawissa Creek.”
“Thanks to guidance from the Schuylkill County Conservation District and FEMA and PEMA money, we did all the repairs to the best of our ability and put in another type of intake which should be as flood-proof as possible,” said Wytovich. “Unfortunately, issues arose about the rights to enter the property
The team pursued a FEMA grant and eventually worked to get the system back up and running in 2011, but
Raising awareness, fighting stereotypes
In the meantime, the CCRA and its partners continue to raise awareness and change negative views of the waterway, previously referred to as Sulphur Creek and Black Creek by locals. “The perception is changing now. I haven’t heard either of those names in quite some time,” said Wytovich. “Creeks in the coal region that flowed orange or had a bad smell were called Sulphur creek. Those with coal debris flowing down them were called Black creek. I think it is a great step psychologically that these creeks don’t have to be defined by their previous issues, but there instead is potential there to fix them up and that is what we see in Catawissa Creek – tremendous potential.”
VOTE HERE FOR CATAWISSA CREEK Reminder!
“This recognition will help the CCRA and its partners continue the good work being done to restore Catawissa Creek’s water quality and create a viable fishery,” said Nancy Corbin, manager of the Columbia County Conservation District. “We look forward to planning fun and educational events to highlight Catawissa Creek restoration efforts, recreational opportunities, notable history and the wonders of the Catawissa Creek watershed for all to enjoy.” Bobby Hughes, executive director of EPCAMR, is excited to promote Catawissa Creek’s restoration so that “future generations will have the chance to see aquatic life, water quality, fishery and recreational opportunities increase and improve. “There are native trout populations and macroinvertebrates throughout the watershed just waiting in the healthier tributaries to make their way to the main stem of the Catawissa once additional water treatment of the historic mine water pollution is addressed,” he said. “I honestly don’t know who is more hopeful and anxious to see this happen: the fish, the bugs or all of our community partners who see the tremendous potential for watershed recovery of the Catawissa Creek.” •
Click to listen
Ed Wytovich speaks about Catawissa Creek in a special Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Podcast
Ed Wytovich is the president of the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association.
To help take additional steps toward achieving that potential, the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association has partnered with the CCRA, EPCAMR, Columbia and Schuylkill county conservation districts to nominate Catawissa Creek as a finalist for the 2022 River of the Year. Farms-HalfPg._Layout 1 4/26/21 10:48 AM Page 1 “Mark Twain once said that the river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men,” said “Porcupine”
Pat McKinney, the environmental educator for the Schuylkill County Conservation District. “This holds true for the Catty, as its waters speak volumes about the history of the people that have experienced it. From early encampments to the recreational powerhouse it has become, the Catty deserves this recognition.”
Nancy Corbin, head of the Columbia County Conservation District, agreed.
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THE 300-YEAR FLOOD • BY: LINDA SONES
“From June 26 through June 28, 2006, the combination of tropical moisture and a stalled cold front produced flash f looding and river f looding across portions of the Upper Susquehanna, Delaware and Chenango River Basins of central New York and northeast Pennsylvania”.
National Weather Service Binghamton, NY Weather Forecast Office
The rain had been heavy the last couple of days. The National Weather Service had Weather Watches and Warnings out for our region. I was woken around 6 AM the morning of June 28th, 2006, by the sound of the little run that cut across our small farm, rushing through like it was the Susquehanna River. That was odd. We could never hear the run from the house before. I looked out my window and I could see that our one-foot wide run had turned into a creek covering the bottom half of our yard and out into the field. I woke my family and we went out to assess our property. As we approached the run, we realized it wasn’t our run we that we heard, but Huntington Creek, approximately 260 yards away. We looked over the bank and saw a raging river full of logs, debris, and mud. Over 12 inches of rain had fallen into the headwaters of Huntington Creek that night and it was wreaking havoc as it journeyed to the Susquehanna River. This flood would become known as the 300-Year Flood, as no other flood in recorded history has matched its destruction along this creek. Our concerns now turned to our friends and the covered bridges along the creek. We learned that our friend’s home was underwater but they were safe and most of their belongings were on dry land. However, our beloved covered bridges were in great jeopardy. Our first stop was at the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge. The water was beating on its side with great force and the southwest corner of the bridge was dropping down into the abutment. If it makes it through the day and the waters recede, it has a chance of surviving. Since the Josiah Hess seemed safe, for now, we moved on to the Twin Covered Bridges a mile down the road. A large group of neighbors had gathered to witness the flooding. Both bridges, East Paden and West Paden, were being hammered by water, logs, and debris. The raging water was up to the bridge decks. The East
Paden stood firm as it took the beating, but the West Paden was not faring as well. West Paden was rocking on its abutments, and it was making a horrible, groaning sound. On the downstream side, the sideboards were being pulled away from the bridge’s main
After some mournful conversations with the people at the Twins, our attention now returned to the Josiah Hess bridge. The raging water continued to batter the bridge. The rain had slowed down greatly, and only time would tell if the Josiah Hess would survive or meet a fate like the West Paden. The neighbors closest to the bridge kept watch all night. If it was still standing in the morning, it would have a chance of surviving. In the morning, everyone gathered at the Josiah Hess Bridge. The water levels had dropped and the bridge was still there. The bridge was a little off-kilter and leaned downstream. We could see that the southern abutment was severely undercut. We feared the northern abutment had the same problems. A call was made to John Lapp, an Amish man known for his quality work on covered bridges. He came quickly and said the bridge needed a counter-balance to support its weight on the damaged abutment. My husband, Bill, said he had a large log and a telephone pole that he could use for the counter-balance. Lapp cut a hole on the south end of the bridge and used a chain to attach the log to framing under the bridge. The bridge remained like this until the water had receded enough for Lapp to start his repair work. The following day, the water had fully receded. We could see that the abutment was badly undercut and the Josiah Hess could still collapse. Upon close examination, we discovered that one tiny stone was holding up the entire bridge! If that one stone came out, the larger stones above it would fall taking the bridge along with them. Lapp and his sons quickly set to work setting up cribbing under the bridge to support more of its weight. The repairs would begin once the ground drained out and was suitable for the equipment.
One tiny stone holds up the abutment!
structure. The joints of the West Paden were being pulled apart and beams started to break under the strain. All any of us could do was watch. We all stood there hoping she would hold together. Around noon, our son said he was hungry and wanted to head home for a quick bite. We were gone for approximately 30 minutes. When we returned, the West Paden Covered Bridge was gone.
Stabilization and construction at the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge being done by John Lapp & crew.
A couple of days later when the ground dried out, truckloads of rock were brought and placed under the abutment to create a foundation. This made it possible for the Lapps to do their work without standing in the creek and, later, it was the base for the rip-rap (large boulders) to rest upon, creating an erosion control barrier. The Lapps had the work done in a few weeks. A final inspection cleared the bridge to open for public use once again. The West Paden Bridge still needed attention. After a bidding process, Lycoming Supply Company started to rebuild the bridge. Most of the recovered pieces of the destroyed bridge were not re-usable. All the main support structures had to be created from new material. That meant that even the Burr arch had to be re- cut. This was a long process and finally, in 2008, the West Paden Covered Bridge was back and open to the public. •
John Lapp and family pouring concrete at the Josiah Hess Bridge.
Full reconstruction of the West Paden Covered Bridge was necessary. Photos courtesy of Bob Sheldon.
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( don ’ t ) quit copying me ! January 10 – February 11 The Exchange Gallery, 24 East Main Street, Bloomsburg exchangearts.org • 570-317-2596 7 th annual children ’ s museum competitive science fair January 20 Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, 2 West 7th Street, Bloomsburg the-childrens-museum.org • 570.389.9206 the mountaintop January 20 – February 6 Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center Street, Bloomsburg bte.org • 570-784-8181 american patchwork quartet January 23 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 33 rd annual early bird sports expo January 27 – 30 Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, 620 West 3rd Street, Bloomsburg. earlybirdexpo.net • 570-437-2460 jamal aliyev , cello and dominic cheli , piano January 27 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
much ado about nothing February 4 Bloomsburg University, K.S. Gross Auditorium, 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg bloomu.edu/arts-in-bloom • 570-389-4409 the crossing with the dublin guitar quartet February 4 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 della mae February 8 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 smite / ten February 14 – March 18 The Exchange Gallery, 24 East Main Street, Bloomsburg exchangearts.org • 570-317-2596.org circa contemporary circus February 15 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 polish wieniawski philharmonic orchestra February 17 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
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Thurs., Feb. 17
BLUEGRASS Della Mae
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syncopated ladies February 19 Bloomsburg University – Haas Center for the Arts, 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg bloomu.edu/arts-in-bloom • 570-389-4409 nella February 24 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 EVENTS CALENDAR
the peking acrobats March 6 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
maple sugaring open house March 13 Montour Preserve, 700 Preserve Road, Danville montourpreserve.org • 570-336-2060
sona jobarteh March 22 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000 tango argentina March 25 Bloomsburg University – Haas Center for the Arts, 400 East Second Street, Bloomsburg bloomu.edu/arts-in-bloom • 570-389-4409 hanzhi wang March 25 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
maple sugaring open house February 26 Montour Preserve, 700 Preserve Road, Danville montourpreserve.org • 570-336-2060
reverso March 1 Weis Center for the Performing Arts, Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
humdinger trail races March 5 Danville Borough Farm, Danville montourrec.com • 570-336-2060
jake blount March 30 Campus Theatre, 413 Market Street, Lewisburg. bucknell.edu • 570-577-1000
witch March 31 – April 16 Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center Street, Bloomsburg bte.org • 570-784-8181
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in Your Backyard by Alana Jajko
The Susquehanna Greenway is full of opportunities to get outside and view wildlife right in your backyard. From wily squirrels and rabbits to our many feathered friends, there is plenty to see with- out venturing too far from home, and this February what you see in your backyard could help researchers. Each year, mid-February marks the date for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). During this time, “birders” (both novice and advanced) from across the country are asked to count birds in their backyards and region and report their sightings at birdcount.org. In preparation of the event, we’ve gathered some insights from a seasoned birdwatcher, local resident, and member of the Ly- coming Audubon Society to help you participate during the GBBC!
Article and photos designated with name credit are courtesy of the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; susquehannagreenway.org
Jim Dunn of Williamsport has been a member of the Lycoming Audubon Society for 16 years. His interest in birding began when his son, Sean, became fascinated by the variety of birds that visit- ed their backyard feeder. Wanting to learn more about their flying visitors, Jim bought his son a guidebook to birds and together a passion for birding was born. “What you find is, once you know a little bit, then you start con- sciously thinking about it everywhere you go—on a walk, on a drive, anything you do,” noted Dunn. “You notice them. Then you start identifying them, the more knowledge you acquire, the more interested you get. This is why it’s the largest hobby in the world!”
What are your tips for those just starting out?
The biggest tip when embarking on a birdwatching adventure is to stop…wait… and most importantly listen. A little patience goes a long way. Dunn explains, “You can walk through an area back and forth and you might not see anything, but if you stop and take five minutes to just stand there, be silent, and look around, the birds will come to check you out. They get curious!.”
If you want to prepare one step further, bring along a small pack with a pair of binoculars and a field guide. There are even apps for
those more electronically inclined to help with the calls and visual identification.
Ebird.org is a wonderful online resource where users can en- ter a location and view up-to-date information on sightings and locations.
Time of Year: Winter and early spring are the best times of the year for birdwatching due to the visibility enabled by the bare to budding trees. Once the trees “green-out” in May, bird- watchers have to rely heavily on sound for identification. Time of Day: According to Dunn, the best time of day to spot birds is around 9 or 10 AM on a sunny morning, or, if you’re interested in nocturnal species, sunset is an ideal time to scope out your feathered friends. Location: As far as location goes, Dunn explains that some of the best birdwatching areas are transitional habitats, for example, where a meadow transitions to small trees or a wetland transitions to brush. Luckily, our region within the Susquehanna Greenway has plenty of these prime environ- ments, plus it is within the Atlantic Flyway—a major north- south flyway for migratory birds in North America. How to Attract Them: The easiest way to attract birds is to simply set up a birdfeeder. You can also try different bird- houses to see what kinds of species your shelters attract.
PHOTO BY CATHIE ENSMINGER provided by Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
Next, you look at its habitat. Then you can look at the plum- age, or colors to help narrow down the options. And finally, if you’re deciding between two very close species, you can identify by their calls.”
For identification, Dunn highly recommends apps like the Warbler Guide, Merlin Bird ID, and AllAboutBirds.org.
What was your most Memorable Sighting?
While Dunn has encounters with bird species in the Susque- hanna Greenway each and every day, there’s one experience that stands out as quite a memorable sighting. In the Sylvan Dell Wetlands, on what is soon to become the Robert Porter Allen Natural Area, Dunn spotted a sandhill crane. The man for which the area is soon to be named was an American ornithologist and environmentalist from South Wil- liamsport who achieved worldwide attention for his rescue operations of the whooping crane. Along with the sandhill
Identification & Tools
There is a method to bird identification Dunn says. “You start with the shape of the bird’s silhouette, this will give you its class—for example whether it’s a little songbird, a predatory bird, a wading bird, etc.
crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America.
“To see this bird at the site that is going to be preserved and honored in his name,” Dunn says, “is just a really great story to have experienced.”
PLACES TO VISIT WITHIN THE SUSQUEHANNA GREENWAY
So, grab your binoculars and guidebook and get out on the Greenway for some birdwatching this season. Whether you explore birdwatching hotspots along our Greenway trails, or keep watch in your own backyard, it’s a great activity to learn and help our native species by reporting sightings to bird- count.org during the Great Backyard Bird Count this month.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL DONOVAN provided by Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
Lycoming County: Williamsport River Walk, Canfield Island, Tiadaghton State Forest, Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail, and South Williamsport Community Park.
Clinton County: Susquehanna Riverwalk in Lock Haven, Bald Eagle Valley Trail, Hyner View State Park.
Union County: State Game Lands 252 (Allenwood), Dale’s Ridge Trail, Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.
Snyder County: Shikellamy State Park Overlook, Fabridam Park, Isle of Que.
Northumberland County: Milton State Park, Sunbury River Front Park, Watsontown Tow Path.
PHOTO BY RITA KURTZ provided by Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
Columbia County: Bloomsburg Town Park, Kocher Park, Test Track Park (Berwick).
See our quick reference in the right column for some birding hotspots in the Susquehanna Greenway, or visit ebird.org to search your county.
Montour County: Montour Preserve, North Branch Ca- nal Trail, Hess Recreation Area & J. Manley Robbins Trail, Geisinger Stewardship Forest.
About the Author: Alana Jajko is the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership. Her work is focused on promoting trails and communities within our vibrant and connected Susquehanna Greenway, so that people like you can enjoy opportunities to engage with the outdoors. Alana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The show goes on by Nancy Bishop; photos by Bob Rush celebrating 44 seasons with the bloomsburg theatre ensemble
Ensemble telling local stories. It’s a leader in the national ensemble theater move- ment and is a founding member of the Network of Ensemble Theatres. BTE’s work also benefits from collabo- ration with guest artists -- actors, acting interns, designers and playwrights -- who visit and often live in Bloomsburg to assist with productions. These relation- ships have built up a family of artists that expands BTE’s capacities beyond the
Dowd, James Goode, Andrew Hubatsek, Daniel Roth and Eric Wunsch. And, also unlike other theater companies, Ensemble members are permanent, full-time res- idents of the place where they perform, which gives BTE a unique connection to the community. A true gem of the area, BTE has produced works from the theatrical archives, new works by emerging playwrights, contem- porary works, and works created by the
“All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare wrote. And since 1978, Bloomsburg The- atre Ensemble has been treating this area to that stage. Back in the summer of 1976, a group of actors who had been students at North- western University’s theater program in Chicago followed their renowned professor, Alvina Krause, to Bloomsburg when she retired from Northwestern and moved here. The group founded the first Ensemble, a professional theater company, in 1978. That first season’s productions, directed and acted by the Ensemble members, in- cluded “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon from Anton Chekhov, directed by Mark Milikin; Mimescape, a BTE original; “Tar- tuffe” by Moliere, directed by Gerard Stro- pnicky; and “The Shadow Box” by Michael Cristopher, directed by Bruce Burgun. Unlike most professional theater com- panies that operate under the direction of a single artistic director, the Ensemble members work together to select plays and appoint a director for each produc- tion. They act in the productions, help manage the company and write some of the shows. Currently, the Ensemble has six members: Amy Rene Byrne, Elizabeth
when Northwestern University dedicated a theater on its campus to Krause, it noted: “Krause, a legendary theater and perfor- mance studies professor, helped create the acting curriculum at Northwestern, focusing on instruction in technique with deep engagement in a canon of dramat- ic literature. She taught at the University for 33 years, and her students included Charlton Heston, Patricia Neal and Garry Marshall.”
Project Discovery and BTE Theatre School programs. Theater in the Classroom brings to schools original works presented in an animated story-theatre style featur- ing imaginative props, costumes, music, and student participation followed by a lively post-performance discussion to area schools. Project Discovery gives high school students in the area the opportunity to attend a performance in the BTE theater for free. And the BTE Theatre School offers
Ensemble and connects it with the national theatrical community.
Now in its 44th season, BTE has come a long way from its free performance of “The Good Doctor” on the stage of then Bloomsburg State College’s Carver Hall in March 1978. The first performance of the perennial audience favorite, “A Christmas Carol” also was staged there in December 1979. The first few summer seasons of the fledgling theater company found a home at Central Columbia Middle School. Even the Town of Bloomsburg helped, providing rehearsal and office space on the Town Hall’s third floor for a few years. By 1980, BTE was ready for a home of its own, and, with a few gifts from several donors, the former Columbia Theater on Center Street in Bloomsburg was pur- chased. The first production in the space was “You Can’t Take It with You” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in June 1982. But the 1940s building needed a more comprehensive overhaul. With grant money and donations, a total renovation transformed the old building into the Alvina Krause Theater, completed in time for the opening of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever in October 1983. Further helping the new theater company was the donation of the Mitrani Building off Iron Street for BTE’s rehearsal space and scenery and costume shops. The commitment to place that Krause instilled in her students can still be seen in BTE’s creation of original plays from local stories, and its Theatre in the Classroom,
How fortunate we are that she and her students chose this place to call home and gave this area Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble! • To learn more about the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, or to purchase tickets to upcoming 2022 shows as part of their 44th season, please visit bte.org.
kids and adults an opportunity to learn theatre skills.
Although Alvina Krause died in 1981 at the age of 88, her legacy lives on in BTE. She inspired a theater that has become, in her
own words, “as important to its commu- nity as schools and churches.” In 2010
Member Spotlight The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau is proud to welcome the following businesses as recent new members to the organization!
elmdale inn 503 Market Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815 elmdaleinn.com • 570.854.4856
Historic 1868 Federal-style home offering bed & Breakfast accommodations with full hot breakfast. Spacious guest rooms with luxurious linens. Numerous public spaces both indoors and outdoor provide opportunities for relaxation and social connections.
the old filling station restaurant 140 Main Street, Benton, PA 17814 facebook.com/OldFillingStation • 570.925.6556
Your experience at the Filling Station is like going back in time to an old-fashioned country meal. You’ll love the family-friendly atmosphere, friendly wait staff, great food, and indoor/outdoor seating.
vintage stuff & more 11 Pealertown Road, Stillwater, PA 17859 570.710.1190 Vintage - gift shop - Furniture - tools - Christmas items - seasonal items - coffee - wicker baskets - artificial flowers - Santa’s sleds - bikes - candlees - signs
Van ' S musical Corner Van Wagner | Born in Pennsylvania. Lives in Pennsylvania. Makes music. Mined coal. Logged trees. Teaches kids. Van Wagner is an educator. In the classroom, he teaches Environmental Science at Lewisburg High School. He has been selected as Conservation Educator of the Year in 2005 from Schuylkill County and in 2007 and 2009 in Union County. In 2012 he was awarded the Sandy Cochran award for natural resource education from the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. In 2015 the Red Cross present- ed Van with the Robert N. Pursel Distinguished Service Award. Outside of the classroom he educates audiences with his music and programs on Pennsylvania History. He received an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2018 from the Pennsylvania Heritage Song- writing Contest. His music has been featured on the History Channel, WVIA TV, as well as Country Music Television (CMT). He has released 28 original albums and published a book entitle "Coal Dust Rust and Saw Dust." His music and programs not only entertain but inspire audiences to become involved in learning about Central Pennsylvania and beyond.
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