MONTROSE, Pa. — A group of dedicated volunteers, along with Penn State Extension educators from the Master Gardener Program and Master Watershed program, Rail Trail Council of NEPA, Susquehanna County Conservation District, and DCNR have created a rest area around a natural swale on the D&H Rail Trail, near Ararat Rd. These efforts help enhance the natural beauty, the wildlife habitat along a portion of this popular trail system. This project also helps mitigate climate change and aid in erosion control along the Starrucca Creek/Susquehanna/Chesapeake watershed. The swale project also included the incorporation of a custom-made bench by members of the welding program at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center.
It was a day of learning and volunteerism. Participants not only planted native trees, grasses, shrubs, and perennials but throughout the day learning breaks were provided including habitat enhancement, native and invasive plants, beaver management, rail trail history, local train history, climate change, watersheds, and tree identification. Adults as well as high school students as far away as Olyphant, PA participated as well as members from the Susquehanna County Forest Landowners Association. “This was so much fun! I am so glad I came. I especially loved how education was woven into the workday.” one volunteer said. In a follow-up survey, 100% said that they would help with similar projects and 100% would implement what they learned on their own properties
“We are not only created something to preserve and conserve the environment, but provided a service to humans and animals alike, by educating the community on the importance of soil and water conservation, enlightening our audience on how native plants thrive in the habitat by providing shelter, food sources, erosion control, and improve water quality for animals and humans.” Lori Voll-Wallace, Penn State Master Gardener Area Coordinator said. “Furthermore, we are helping to indirectly enhance the economic growth of the communities surrounding the D&H Rail Trail and in part, helping to enhance the whole Rail Trail system across Pennsylvania.” she added. Contact the Rail Trail Council of NEPA office in Union Dale to rent a backpack with binoculars, and wildlife, wildflower, and tree ID pocket guides. 570-679-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The D&H Rail Trail Swale project was funded by the Department of Environmental Protection EE 2022 grant. Training for project team leaders was conducted by the Penn State Extension Energy, Business and Community Vitality Team. Wildlife advice was given by the Game Commission animal control agent and special thanks to the Susquehanna County Commissioners for their support of Penn State Extension staff, which spear headed this community project. Most of all thank you to all the speakers, and volunteers.
Members Courtney Leaidicker; Susan Wheeler, Rae Hayden, Jamie & Reeve Owen; Sandy Harris, Anson Hedges, Lori Voll-Wallace, Stephen Bott, Doug Sheldon, Bill Osterhout, Scarlett Osterhout, Linda Conrad, Ann Brunori, Julie Gray, Logan Sullivan, Cindy Klenk, Julian Maza (DCNR).
–Penn State Extension