Thanks for listening to our Earth Minutes on 98.7 The FREQ, brought to you by ClearWater Conservancy and Envinity of State College. Click below to listen to our clips or read the transcripted versions! Links to additional information are included as well.
Things are heating up here in State College. With the passing of the Summer Solstice, marking the official beginning of summer -it’s likely that life is getting busy for you and your family too. With longer days and warmer weather comes a lot more yard work. Mowing, weeding, edging, and weed whacking. The hum of lawn equipment is plentiful at this time of year. Don’t get yard fatigue! Consider some lawn alternatives featuring native plants. A native wildflower meadow or woodland garden will provide wildlife habitat and: bonus! They won’t require inconvenient watering or expensive chemical applications. Using lawn alternatives also helps reduce emissions from lawn mowers and minimizes maintenance efforts on your part. So you can sit back and sip some iced tea while the enjoying the cheerful chatter of your new backyard friends. Stop by ClearWater Conservancy for more information, plant recommendations, or to view our example meadow.
Importance of Buffers
Let's Venture Outside
It’s gardening season! Have you heard of a rain garden? Rain gardens are shallow basins planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. When strategically placed they benefit us by capturing stormwater runoff and reducing stress on storm culverts. They are a beautiful colorful way for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities to recharge groundwater, remove standing water, reduce mosquitos, create habitat for birds and butterflies and conserve water! To soak up the most benefit from your new garden make sure to fill it with native plants such as black flag iris, cardinal flower, ironweed, blue vervain, or buttonbush. Soon your garden will be full of beautiful pops of color earning you the gold star title of a backyard conservationist.
Are you interested in making a difference in your community? This year’s Watershed Cleanup Day is slated for Saturday, April 21st from 8 am –noon. And we could use your help! Maintaining our watershed’s cleanliness benefits our world-class trout streams, preserves our region’s natural beauty, supports recreation, and provides a vibrant quality of life for all of us. Watershed management begins with individuals who are knowledgeable about the impacts of their activities and willing to take the best steps to protect the groundwater on which we all depend. Last year, over 600 volunteers were able to remove 39 tons of trash from our waterways and green spaces in just one day! Imagine the impact you can make, this year, with your family or community group. The Watershed Cleanup Day efforts will be followed by a volunteer picnic in Circleville Park featuring live music and games.
If you’re unable to join us and are looking for a simple way to help your watershed, make this a habit: Bring a bag along with you while out on a hike, jogs, or while walking the kids to school. It’s a mindful way to proactively remove immediate threats to our ecosystem and keep our communities clean.
Spotted Lantern Fly
Pennsylvania needs your help to stop the spread of a harmful and invasive pest, the spotted lanternfly. The spotted lanternfly was first spotted in Berks County in 2014, and is a major threat to a wide variety of crops in Pennsylvania, including grapes, hops, apples and fruit trees. The Spotted Lanternfly is approximately 1” long with grey, spotted forewings, red spotted hind wings, and a striped-yellow abdomen. In Korea, the spotted lanternfly has been reported to attack 65 different species of crops and trees, over 25 which are known to grow in Pennsylvania. Here’s what you can do to stop the spotted lanternfly. First, visit clearwaterconservancy.org for a direct link to images and information so you identify this bad bug out in the wild. If you see the lanternfly or its eggs, take a picture and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then destroy it using the recommended methods outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. You can also stop by ClearWater Conservancy's office to pick up a credit-card-like tool that can be used for scraping lanternfly eggs off trees and is printed with Lanternfly FAQ’s. See a complete list of resources at clearwaterconservancy.org/earthminute
Composting, whether it be yard clippings or food waste, is an easy step we can all take to keep more material from entering landfills. Composting is also a sensible way to improve the productivity of your garden by adding nutrients and increasing water retention of the soil. If you are considering composting, start with these simple steps. First, select the storage solution that’s right for your space. This might be a 3 foot by 3 foot wide outside area, a compost bucket that fits under your sink or a large, outdoor compost drum. Next, review a list of items that you can add to create a healthy compost mix. Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and uncoated paper products are great for composting, but for backyard composting, avoid meats and oils that might attract outdoor pests. Once your compost has has a dark color and you can’t recognize any of the items you added, it is ready to be added back to the earth and by fortifying your garden and household plants. Over 90% of the food we don’t use ends up in a landfill. Composting is a simple to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to healthier gardens and soils.
Gardening season may seem far away, but it’s not too early to start planning for planting. In fact you can start your garden as early as mid-march if you want to start your plants from seed. Knowing when to start your seedlings depends on your region’s climate and likelihood for frost. Some crops such as broccoli and cauliflower can get started early, while tomatoes and pepper seeds can be planted indoors around mid-April. To get started, first choose seeds from plants and crops that are native to our climate by checking information on the seed packet. Next, select your potting soil or use your own compost to use in your seed tray or recycled yogurt containers with holes punched in the bottom. Then simply add sunlight and water and enjoy watching your soon-to-be garden get its start!
Leave the Leaves
Tidying up our lawns and gardens at the end of the season by raking, mowing, and blowing away leaves can be harmful to the moths, butterflies, bees, snails, spiders that are vital to the natural lifecycle of other animals and need leaves to survive. Unlike the monarch, most butterflies and moths spend winter as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult and use leaves for winter cover. An extra thick layer of leaves is welcome protection from the elements. Second, your newly-planted perennials with tender roots benefit from this thick layer of leaves which provides additional insulation against bitter cold weather. Third, fallen leaves have all the properties and benefits of expensive wood mulch, plus they're more colorful and free! If you must keep your lawn clear of leaves – try opting for raking or using a leaf vacuum to capture whole leaves and placing them in a leaf pile, your compost pile, or keep them in your garden bed. But if at all possible this year, tell your friends you're leaving the leaves to protect our moths, butterflies, and bees.
Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity. That electricity flows into your home where you are using energy, or onto the utility grid for credit when you are not using energy. The cost to go solar has dropped dramatically over the past few years, especially considering the 30% federal tax credit doesn’t hurt either. Local solar companies such as Envinity can help you determine if you have a good solar resource and calculate project economics at no cost. Going solar is typically the final step after you have worked to increase the energy efficiency of your home. To learn more about how solar power can work for you, visit www.solarforhomepa.com or call Envinity at 814.231.3927
Home Energy Audit
Invasive vs. Native Plants
Build Your Own Rain Barrel
Reduce Holiday Waste:
Spring Creek Watershed:
Get Outside in Cold Weather:
The Barrens to Bald Eagle Wildlife Corridor is one of the last remaining natural connections allowing free passage of wildlife between State Game Lands 176 and Bald Eagle Mountain. The corridor is forever protected through a joint public/private partnership between ClearWater Conservancy, Halfmoon Township Open Space Preservation Program, County Planning and Community Development Office, and private donors. The Scotia Barrens and Bald Eagle Mountain are both designated “Important Bird Areas” and “Important Mammal Areas” because they provide large, unique, or critical habitat for many bird and mammal species. Residential development threatens to isolate these two natural land masses from each other as well as the wildlife populations they support. The wildlife corridor provides a natural connection between two critical habitats, forever ensuring safe passage.
Directions to Bald Eagle Wildlife Corridor:
From State College: Take US 322 West to SR 550 (Buffalo Run Road) Turn left onto SR 550 Travel 2.9 miles to Saddle Ridge Road on the left Travel Saddle Ridge Road taking first right onto Harness Downs Road Follow Harness Downs Road to its end and the parking area. The hiking trail begins in the extreme left-hand corner of the parking lot. Please note: speed limit is 25 mph on Saddle Ridge and Harness Downs Roads.’ Please be a thoughtful visitor and strictly obey the speed limit.
From Stormstown: Travel SR 550 through Stormstown, past church on Right just past Stormstown Take first Right past church onto Saddle Ridge Rd. (do not take farm lane) Travel Saddle Ridge Rd. taking first Right onto Harness Downs Rd. Follow Harness Downs Rd. to its end and the parking area. The hiking trail begins in the extreme left-hand corner of the parking lot. Please note: speed limit is 25 mph on Saddle Ridge and Harness Downs Roads! Please be a thoughtful visitor and strictly obey the speed limit.