North Branch Land Trust to hold first NEPA Barn Banquet on Sept. 14

Sep. 4—WILKES-BARRE — Conservation In Northeastern Pennsylvania goes beyond the stunning forested landscapes that give Pennsylvania its name.

North Branch Land Trust knows the value of conserving the rich agricultural heritage that has long been the wealth of the Commonwealth.

North Branch Land Trust is celebrating the NEPA farmer this harvest season with their first-ever NEPA Barn Banquet on Sept. 14, as well as this history lesson about the importance of NEPA's agriculture.

NEPA's rich agricultural history is pre-colonial, with local tribes like the Susquehannock developing important cultivation methods related to the primary crops of corn, beans, and squash.

The crops, known as the Three Sisters, worked together to improve drainage, fix nitrogen in the soil, and prevent erosion.

Colonial Pennsylvanians brought European farming traditions like crop rotations, which further enhanced Pennsylvania's status as an agricultural mecca of the East Coast.

In fact, America's first agricultural reform organization, the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, was started in Pennsylvania in 1785, and, in 1862, the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania (now Penn State University) was founded.

From the 1800s to today, Penn State has been one of the leaders in public scientific agricultural education.

Further advancements throughout the turn of the century, like refrigerated trailers, offered faster and fresher shipping from farms to cities.

"Refrigerated trucks helped the dairy industry in Pennsylvania boom and the state's cream cheese and ice creams became national household staples," — (PA Historical & Museum Commission 2013).

Dairy has continued to dominate Pennsylvania's agricultural industry. And with orchard fruits like peaches, apples, and cherries, grains including wheat, oat, corn and barley, Christmas trees, and mushrooms topping Pennsylvania's agricultural products, there are plenty of ways and reasons to celebrate.

Agriculture in Pennsylvania has long been balanced against development needs for a growing population. By improving in-field agriculture and edge-of-field wetlands, contemporary Pennsylvania farmers have been working with scientists and conservationists to protect our waters and continue to improve the health of our soils.

North Branch Land Trust began in 1993, then known as the Back Mountain Regional Land Trust, with the goal of preserving the natural, scenic, and agricultural working lands in our region.

From the very beginning, North Branch, like many land trusts, recognized the importance of keeping these heritage farms from being divided or developed.

Today, 18% of North Branch's conservation easements host active farming, from small scale orchards to leased commercial agri-business. These open fields play an important role for wildlife habitats as well as populating our pantries. All of North Branch's Easements conserve the natural state of the land so that farms, fields and forests have a place to thrive and expand in perpetuity.

There are plenty of ways to support NEPA farms year-round, but early Autumn is one of the best times for getting a taste of our region's bounty.

In urban and residential areas like Wilkes Barre, Pittston, Dunmore and Dallas, weekly Farmers Markets offer seasonal produce, while rural adventurers can take advantage of stands that pop up right between the farm and street.

One can also join North Branch Land Trust at Friedman Farms to celebrate NEPA's agricultural heritage on Sept. 14, at 5 p.m. More than just a "party in a barn," the NEPA Barn Banquet will feature a locally sourced three course menu designed and prepared by Bank & Vine.

"We thank Friedman Farms and Friedman Hospitality Group for their support of North Branch Land Trust in making this event in support of local and PA Agriculture possible," said Ellen Ferretti, NBLT executive director.

To learn more about North Branch Land Trust, the NEPA Barn Banquet, regional conservation efforts and more, visit nblt.org.

2022 turkey sighting

survey reports due

The Pennsylvania Game Commission's two-month survey on wild turkey sightings has ended, and participants are encouraged to report their July and August sightings through Monday, Sept. 5.

Reports must be filed through the Game Commission's website — https://pgcdatacollection.pa.gov/TurkeyBroodSurvey. The mobile app is no longer available.

Participants should report the number of wild turkeys seen from July 1 to Aug. 31, along with the general location, date and contact information if agency biologists have any questions.

Please note, your specific location information is NOT shared or stored; it is used solely to help determine the county, township, and Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) of each sighting.

"The turkey survey, which is part of the National Standardized Brood Survey, enhances our agency's internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction and is used in our turkey population model," explained Game Commission Turkey Biologist Mary Jo Casalena. "By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether it's gobblers, hens with broods, or hens without broods, the data help us determine total productivity in each WMU and compare long-term turkey reproductive success across the country," she added.

Many factors affect wild turkey productivity, including spring weather, habitat, previous winter-food abundance, predation, and last fall's harvest. Weather across Pennsylvania during late spring and summer 2021 were relatively warm and dry but varied by WMU, as well as the other factors that affect reproduction. For example, WMUs that experienced the 17-year Brood X cicada hatch tended to have excellent recruitment. These included parts of WMU 2C, WMUs 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B and 5C. Cicadas are an excellent source of protein for turkeys and predators that might otherwise prey on turkey poults.

This above-average statewide reproductive success last summer (3.1 poults per hen), coupled with more conservative fall 2021 turkey hunting seasons (shorter seasons in most WMUs and elimination of rifles) resulted in higher turkey survival into the 2022 spring breeding season. At the WMU level, reproductive success in 2021 improved in 15 of 23 WMUs compared to the previous three-year average. It was similar to the previous three-year average in two WMUs (2F and 4E) and was below-average in six WMUs (3A, 3B, 3C, 4C, 5D and a slight decline in 2D and compared to 11 WMUs in 2021).

"Remember, every summer turkey-sighting reported to the Game Commission helps to improve wild turkey conservation in the Keystone State," Casalena emphasized. "Since public involvement began in 2016, the number of turkey sightings reported each year have doubled. Public participation enhances our agency's internal survey by increasing the sample size and providing broader coverage of turkey reproductive success across all WMUs," Casalena added.

Back Woods Bass Results

Bob Strunk reports the rankings for the final tournament set for this week.

Wednesday Night Harveys Lake Lunker

Top 30 for finals 9/7

1. Shaun Kucharski 29.89 lbs

2. George Gendler Jr 28.01 lbs

3. George Hogan 24.27 lbs

4. Cody Cutter 23.90 lbs

5. Justin Kubilus 22.94 lbs

6. Joe Zombek 21.86 lbs

7, Joe Simko 20.24 lbs

8. Jake Rolands 19.00 lbs

9, Gary Mikulski 18.83 lbs

10, Greg Mikulski Sr 17.75 lbs

11. Greg Mikulski lll 16.63 lbs

12, Damien Strohl 16.36 lbs

13, Nate Hazeltine 16.20 lbs

14, Brian Cutter 16.00 lbs

15. Jimmy Quinn 16.00 lbs

16. Greg Mikulski Jr 15.34 lbs

17. Nick Dudeck 13.00 lbs

18, Steve Hovanec. 12.61 lbs

19. Travis Sciandra 11.55 lbs

20. Harlow Rolands 11.50 lbs

21. Duane Deno 11.30 lbs

22. Frank Kline 11.28 lbs

23. George Gendler Sr 10.96 lbs

24. Chuck Petterman 10.61 lbs

25. Gary Collins 10.27 lbs

26. John Kelley 10.07 lbs

27. Andrea Harris 9.98 lbs

28. Dave Brill 9.00 lbs

29. Chris Kalna 8.25 lbs

30. Jim Roberts 7.00 lbs

DEP declares drought watch;

asks for water conservation

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the Commonwealth Drought Task Force has declared a drought watch for 36 counties and asks for voluntary water conservation in those counties.

"A few counties have experienced very dry conditions over the summer, and a number of others have inched into increasingly dry conditions in recent weeks. We're asking Pennsylvanians in all of these counties to use water wisely and follow simple water conservation tips to ease the demand for water," said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh.

The following counties are on drought watch: Berks, Bucks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, and Wyoming.

Residents on drought watch are asked to reduce their individual water use by 5 to 10%, or a reduction of three to six gallons of water per day.

DEP is notifying all water suppliers in these counties of the need to monitor their supplies and be prepared by updating their drought contingency plans as necessary. Varying localized conditions may lead water suppliers or municipalities to ask residents for more stringent conservation actions.

There are many ways to conserve water at home, including:

—Run water only when necessary. Don't let the faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving. Shorten the time you let the water run to warm up before showering.

—Run the dishwasher and washing machine less often, and only with full loads.

—Water your garden in the cooler evening or morning hours, and direct the water to the ground at the base of the plant, so you don't waste water through evaporation.

Water your lawn only if necessary. Apply no more than 1 inch of water per week (use an empty can to determine how long it takes to water 1 inch). Avoid watering on windy and hot days. This pattern will encourage healthier, deeper grass roots. Over-watering is wasteful, encourages fungal growth and disease, and results in shallow, compacted root systems that are more susceptible to drought.

—When mowing your lawn, set the blades to 2-3 inches high. Longer grass shades the soil, improving moisture retention. It also grows thicker and develops a deeper root system, so it can better survive drought.

—Check for and repair household leaks. For example, a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

—Sweep your sidewalk, deck, or driveway instead of hosing it off.

—Replace older appliances with high-efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy.

—Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

—Set up a rain barrel to be ready to re-purpose rain when it does fall. For information, see this Penn State Extension guide.

The next Commonwealth Drought Task Force meeting will be on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at 1:00 PM.

Full day set for Appalachian

Trail Hall of Fame induction

The Appalachian Trail Museum plans a full schedule of free events for the 2022 A.T. Hall of Fame class induction on Saturday, Oct.1, 2022.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a lecture by Warren Doyle entitled "My 50 Year Love Affair With The A.T."

Dr. Doyle, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020, is the founder and first coordinator of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA). He has

completed the Appalachian Trail eighteen times, including nine thruhikes and nine section hikes. Dr. Doyle's lecture will be in the Hall of Fame Room within the Ironmasters Mansion.

Two events will follow at 11 am. Gwen Loose, Vice President of the Museum Board and Museum Curator, will lead a dedication of the Museum's new interactive trail map display, followed by a guided tour of the Museum.

At the Ironmasters Mansion Hall of Fame Room, Larry Luxenberg and Jim Foster will lead a panel discussion of the 2022 Hall of Fame class. The class is made up of the late Jim & Molly Denton of Front Royal, Virginia; JoAnn & Paul Dolan of New York, New York; Laurie Potteiger of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; and Tom Speaks of Cleveland, Tennessee.

Information on the 2022 Class can be found at the Museum's website, www.atmuseum.org

The Hall of Fame Induction ceremony will begin at 1:30 in the Furnace Stack parking lot. The ceremony will be a free event, but registration will be required due to limited space.

To register, send an email to atmbanquet@gmail.com.

At 3 p.m., two guided tours will be featured, one of the Ironmasters Mansion, led by Andre Weltman, Chair of Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Gwen Loose will lead another tour of the Museum for those who missed the morning tour.