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Friday, August 30, 2013

TLC "Identifications" at your service..

The other day, I received a text from one of our volunteers.  There was a picture attached, and it said--

"Any idea what kind of snake this was? It was in my yard this morning"

This is a common email/text that we get from our TLC volunteers--and we're always happy to identify the newest thing they found in their yard!! 

After consulting with my handy reptile guide book, because snakes are one species that I actually avoid meeting at all costs, I believe that we are looking at a Eastern Garter Snake.  Any suggestions/corrections are welcome!

Just think--in addition to helping TLC spread their mission, as a volunteer you have quick access to the TLC staff as your in the field identification.  Help us today by contacting our office at: 610-347-0347 ext. 101 or

In the meantime--watch where you walk in case you find yourself toe to face with one of the 21 species of snakes native to PA.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trees in your Backyard

 From our Forest Steward friends, I thought this press release was worth passing along.  The composition of our native woodlands is ever evolving, and here are some things to look for as these pests and diseases find their way into PA. More questions about forests?? Our Landscape Visionaries team is happy to help!

Allyson Muth
Forest Stewardship Program Associate
Phone: 814-865-3208

For Immediate Release

August Is Tree Check Month!

University Park, PA – With invasive pests and diseases threatening the diversity of Pennsylvania's woods, it's incumbent on landowners and the general public alike to keep watch over the trees that contribute to our state's beauty. The US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) has declared August "Tree Check Month." It’s the right time to get out into the woods and watch for signs of diseased and dying trees.

In Pennsylvania, we already see the impacts of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and the dead and dying ash trees throughout the state (EAB has been confirmed in 39 counties, but the entire state remains under quarantine and the insect is expected to spread throughout); Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) and the dead and dying hemlocks on mountainsides and along streams, soon to impact water quality and temperature; and the native forest tent caterpillar and non-native gypsy moth, which have been and continue to be part of Pennsylvania's forest ecosystem. And while there are practices, chemical, and biological control methods that can help mitigate the spread of these insects, the task is daunting. It’s a sad time for our forests.
Now with two more threatening insects, one with an associated fungus, on our borders or in isolated areas of the state, it is imperative that we all become more vigilant about dead and dying trees.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), Anoplophora glabipennis, is a non-native insect first discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996 and detected in Chicago in 1998. In the 2000s, it was found in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and most recently discovered in southeastern Ohio. While not yet found in Pennsylvania, ALB is one of the more aggressive invasive insects that could easily make its way here. ALB kills trees as the larvae feed in the branches and stems. ALB grows, reproduces in, and kills up to thirteen genera of trees, including maple, birch, horse chestnut and buckeye, poplar, willow, elm, ash, and alder.

Asian Longhorned Beetles are large, shiny, black insects with random white spots. They measure 1 to 1 ½ inches long, with black and white banded antennae as long as (females) or twice as long as (males) their bodies. Adults are active from mid-May until early August. The females scrape a small notch in the bark to lay eggs. The larvae bore in to the branches and trunk to feed in the wood and cambial layer of the tree. Mature larvae pupate within the galleries they have made, and adults chew their way out leaving round, dime-sized exit holes. August is a peak emergence time for the adult beetles and a time when landowners and members of the public can help to check trees for the beetles.

In 2011 Thousand Cankers Disease, a disease complex that attacks black walnut (Juglans nigra) made up of a native (western species) walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis) and a native fungus (Geosmithia morbida), was found in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Until recently this disease primarily affected eastern black walnut planted outside its native range in Western States. In the summer of 2010, it was first noticed in Knoxville, Tennessee, well within the native range of black walnut and it has begun to spread. In 2012 the walnut twig beetle and the fungus were identified in southeastern Ohio.

To kill the tree, as the beetle feeds on black walnut branches, it creates numerous galleries beneath the bark. The adult beetles carry the fungal spores and introduce them into the phloem when they construct the galleries. Small cankers develop around the galleries, which then enlarge and coalesce to completely girdle the branches. Trees die as a result of the canker infestations at the thousands of beetle attack sites. Usually the first sign of infestation is thinning crowns in the black walnuts, yellowing or wilted leaves on limbs, and then branch death.

The most important thing you can do to protect your trees is to check them regularly and encourage others to do so too. You don't have to wait for August to roll around each year to do these checks. Learn about other symptoms and signs of infestation and disease. Early detection is crucial to maintaining Penn's Woods. For more information on these and other insects, visit the DCNR Bureau of Forestry’s Forest Pest Insects and Disease website, at:

To report possible infested trees in Pennsylvania, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 1-866-253-7189, the DCNR Bureau of Forestry, Division of Pest Management at: 717-948-3941 or email:

The Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program provides publications on a variety of topics related to woodland management. For a list of free publications, call 800 234 9473 (toll free), send an email to, or write to Forest Stewardship Program, Natural Resources Extension, The Pennsylvania State University, 416 Forest Resources Building, University Park, PA 16802. The Pennsylvania DCNR Bureau of Forestry and USDA Forest Service, in Partnership with Penn State's Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, sponsor the Forest Stewardship Program in Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More unsung hero's

Last week we highlighted the interns and volunteers who help TLC as part of our Trail Blazer program, but they are only one cog in the wheel.  We also have a bevy of interns and volunteers who help us out on the office with tasks from helping to update our website, copying and printing information about upcoming events, creating presentations about important projects, and helping us to do our job more effectively. 

Thank you to all of our volunteers in the office, out in the field, and those helping us with special projects throughout the year.  We really couldn't do it without your help!  Are you interested in volunteering to help us continue to spread our mission?? Contact us: 610-347-0347 ext. 101 or to learn about all our volunteer opportunities in the office and out in the field!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Star Gazing....

We may not live in Big Sky Country, but there are some beautiful star gazing moments when you enter portions of Chester County.  Technology and a few neat apps have us all "experts" when gazing at the sky, but I still wish I could pick out constellations without the help of the app on my cell phone, I mean what happens if I'm stranded in the middle of an ocean without any electronics, and I need to find my way home...I'm always amazed at the sailors of yore who had quite exceptional navigational skills using the sky and a compass to guide them.  

If you are interested in learning more about the night sky--sans phone apps, come out to Bucktoe Creek Preserve on Saturday, August 24 for our Sky Tour with the Chester County Astronomical Society.  Click HERE for more information.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Verdant Pact

TLC conserves 145 acres of prime agricultural lands at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center Campus

New Bolton
Dr. Corinne Sweeney, Associate Dean for New Bolton Center and Gwen Lacy, Executive Director of TLC review the conservation plan for the campus.
With the recent signing of an agricultural conservation easement, The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has ensured that 145 acres of  Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center Campus will be protected from development and continue the area’s agricultural tradition.  TLC will administer the easement over its 25-year term.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for Penn Vet to continue the positive relationship we have with the Chester County community,” said Corinne Sweeney, associate dean for New Bolton Center. “The easement will help sustain the area’s long and proud agricultural heritage. We’re so pleased to be a part of it.”
The parcel of land placed under the easement — comprising nearly a quarter of the New Bolton Center’s 687-acre campus — is currently used as cropland and pastureland. The easement ensures that these traditional uses will endure, while restricting non-agricultural development.
Since 1952, Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center Campus, located in Kennett Square, Penn., has offered state-of-the-art veterinary services for large animals such as horses, cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. The campus is also home to a working dairy, a farrier and a traveling field service to offer veterinary care for individuals and farms in the nearby area. As a result, the School has formed strong ties to the Chester County agricultural community.
“The New Bolton Center Campus has been a staple of this community for generations,” said Gwen Lacy, executive director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County.  “We are thrilled to hold this easement on 145 acres of prime pasture and croplands.  It is reassuring to recognize that through this easement we all share a common vision of maintaining the rural integrity and the beauty of the landscape for years to come.”
Penn Vet will maintain ownership of the land, which is located along route 926 to the east of the main portion of the New Bolton Center Campus, while The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County will hold the easement and act as a guardian of its provisions.

Now is the Best Time in History to Preserve your Land!

Tax Rates are higher than ever, but the good news is that favorable tax incentives and offsets for private landowners are the best that they have been in history - especially for working family farmers and landowners of modest means - who preserve their land with a voluntary conservation agreement.Capitol Hill
But conservation minded landowners only have until December 31st 2013 to take advantage of the enhanced tax deduction. Note: Landowners must contact TLC by October 1st 2013 at the latest to begin the conservation process.
The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner's federal income tax. Specifically it:
  • Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
  • Allows many farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
  • Increases the number of years over which a donor can take the deduction from six to sixteen years.
TLC also has a Land Reserve Fund to assist landowners in the costs associated with conserving your land. Please contact Gwen Lacy, Executive Director of TLC at or call 610-347-0347 ext 102.

Nature's Medicine

The lost art of medicinal plants was highlighted at Bucktoe Creek Preserve this weekend. As part II of TLC's Wild Foraging Series, April Coburn, of Nettlejuice Herbals, led a group of 12 into the diverse world of Bucktoe's medicinal flora. Thirty-two species are known to reside at Bucktoe- our group only managed to see around eighteen. April discussed identification tips, the correct parts of the plant to harvest and time of year, along with procedures to concoct at-home remedies. Her personal medicinal remedies were available for purchase at the event, but you can also visit for more information on her products.

Medicinal Plants
Out of the numerous plants we discussed, here are a list of plants that I would like to share.
1. Plantain, Plantago majorGrows in very disturbed areas - easy to find in your backyard, or any common area where grass is mowed. Very effective way to draw out venom from a sting. Victim can briefly chew up the leaf and place it over the sting, rubbing in the leaf juice.
red clover
Red Clover
2. Red Clover, Trifolium praetense: Known as an allterative, meaning it is all around good for your body. Continued use of this plant in teas or diet can remove toxins in the body, and help with several types of lung issues.
3. Monarda, Monarda fistulosa: Also known as Sweet Leaf, this plant has askew, purple flowers with thin petals and a square shaped stem. As a member of the mint family, Monarda is very effective at helping to reduce fever. A few participants had positive experiences using this plant for medicinal purposes.
4. Walnut Trees, Juglans nirgra: The hole of the nut is used as an anti-parastic, and is used to help fight Chrones disease and IBS. One
Monarda fistulosa
participant had even read information on using these in place of heartworm medication for dogs.
5. Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis: Often found in wetland areas, jewelweed is a strong preventative and cure for poison ivy. Used as a preventative by using the leaves in a tea form (1/4 cup suggested), and as a cure by rubbing the juice from the leaves onto the infected area.

As always, please be sure to positively identify any plants before using for medicinal purposes. Poisonous plants can often mimmic plants that are used for medicinal or edible purposes.

April also provide a list of ethics and guidelines for harvesting medicinal plants from the Rocky Mountain Herbalist Coalition:
1. Never gather endangered or threatened plants. 
2. Positively ID before harvesting.
3. Ask permission, give thanks, acknowledge connection with all life, share appreciation. 
4. Leave mature, seed producing plants, grandparent plants, within the stand and at the top of the hill to seed downslope. 
5. If unsure, harvest no more than 10% of native whole plant and root. Gather only from abundant stands. Harvest conservatively.

Other than the numerous facts and helpful information gained during the hike, there was another take home message I really enjoyed: Sometimes, less is more. In our world today we sometimes believe more is better. Taking more medicine will relieve your headache faster, or using several types of ointments will make your skin glow again. When it comes to using plants for medicinal purposes, April stated that often times, taking less can be more effective.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


We spent yesterday at terrain for the Heirloom Tomato Festival touting native plants and how they benefit native pollinators.  This great photo came across my email, and I couldn't help but pass it along to all of the TLC blog followers.  This is just another reason to plant native plants to encourage native pollinators--it helps to raise nests of birds!

This photo and more interesting facts about gardening for birds can be found on Yard Map's Facebook page and while you are perusing the world of Facebook, remember to "Like" TLC's page!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cure for the barbs of Saddleback caterpillars

Elderberry Elixir from Nettlejuice
and more when you attend TLC's Medicinal Plant walk at Bucktoe Creek Preserve tomorrow, August 17th lead by April Coburn of Nettlejuice Herbcraft

Sign up today and enjoy the beautiful Saturday at Bucktoe on our Medicinal Plant walk. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The native Euonymus...

As fall rapidly approaches, I'll start to see one of my least favorite plants being pushed by landscapers and nurseries throughout the area touted for it's brilliant fall color: Euonymus alatus or Burning Bush.  Check back on this earlier blog post to learn all of the reasons that you should not use Euonymus alatus in your plantings.   

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to come across the native Euonymus the other day:  Euonymus americanus (or American Strawberry Bush).  This is the only place that I have ever seen this shrub growing in the wild, and every time I see it, it reminds me of what a wonderful plant it is which gets little to no recognition.  It gets this name from the fruits which turn a brilliant red color in the fall.  The leaves will also turn red in the fall, and it is a wonderful alternative to the non-native invasive version that appears in many mass landscaping themes. 

See if you can find it by attending one of TLC's many upcoming programs on our preserves!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monarch Visitors

If you aren't able to fill your calendars with TLC events every weekend--though we do our best to give you a selection, I would recommend taking at least one weekend from September 1st through October 31 to visit Cape May, New Jersey.  At the Audubon Cape May Bird Observatory you can observe the spectacle that is the migrating monarch's as they make their way 2000+ miles south to overwinter.

This monarch was found spending some time in the meadow at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.  Though I was not able to capture it in the photograph, this monarch was spending a fair amount of time on the Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)--- a great native plant and host plant! Learn more about what native plants you can purchase at TLC's booth at terrain on Saturday, August 17th or learn about what plants you can forage at Bucktoe Creek Preserve on our Wild Foraging Walk also this Saturday, August 17th.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

TLC's Unsung Hero's of the Summer

As the start of school is right around the corner, I wanted to give a shout out to our unsung hero's of the summer.  As a small non for profit organization, we could not be nearly as effective as we are without the help of volunteers--from an all volunteer board to the many extra hands that help us in the office and out in the field.

Before the end of summer, I wanted to highlight some of the various volunteers who helped us during their summer break.  The first group are the TLC Trail Blazers.  This group of interns ( a mix of high school, college, and graduate students--as well as some recent graduates who just volunteer their time to help out) meet every Tuesday and Thursday at Stateline Woods Preserve at 8am.   The group helps with land management tasks on TLC's nature preserves.  The projects are varied and range from invasive plant management to trail building to everything in between.    These interns may have some of the fun jobs, but they are also getting wet in the sporadic downpours that we have had all summer--and working really hard in the heat.  They have definitely put in their sweat equity throughout the summer months.   We hope that they have learned something along the way--though I think some of them might tune me out when I get distracted over birds, butterflies, and plants...

My hope is that each of them can positively identify at least one invasive and one native plant (and hopefully remember the common and Latin names...

If you are interested in volunteering with TLC--please contact our offices to learn about our year-round volunteer options at 610-347-0347 ext. 101 or

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fall Stand Out Grass

While I understand that I am in the minority when it comes to weather, the sweater that I have been wearing to keep myself warm the past few nights reminds me that fall is just around the corner.   I have even started to notice some trees losing their leaves, and a few flocks of geese starting to band together.  Before we know it, fall migration will be in full swing!

While to me that is a depressing thought, it also brings a great time in the garden, and allows some plants which may be fairly nondescript throughout the year a chance to shine.  Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama) is a great native grass that adds wildlife value to any urban, suburban, or rural garden!

The Astra Zeneca employee planting beneath the oak tree at Stateline Woods contains about twenty plugs of the Bouteloua and while at the moment it just looks like a tallish grass with large seed heads, it will transform in the fall to a brilliant reddish purple color.   This plant would be a great standout in the garden adding color and texture.

Want more feedback on planting things for your fall garden??  Visit TLC at terrain on August 17th for the Heirloom Tomato Festival as we recommend native plants, or schedule a personalized visit to your property through our Landscape Visionaries team today! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Slugging It Out

Photo Credit: Chad Hudson
TLC interns found this creature hanging out around the shed. If you have problems with them in your vegetable garden, put out a small cup with some beer in it.  They will crawl into the cup because they are attracted to the beer, but will not be able to get back out.  This is one way to save your lettuce--though mine is done until the fall weather anyway!

If the rain has gotten to your garden this year, but you still are looking for ways to supplement your diet with freshly grown goods (and haven't checked out the Kennett Farmers market) then join TLC on our second Wild Foraging Walk: Medicinal Plant Forage on August 17th--maybe a garden already exists in your backyard!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Orienteering Course...

We took advantage of the beautiful weather to set up our orienteering course for the next installment in Free Time Adventures In Nature on Monday.  Curious to know how it works?? A sneak peek of the course will be tested during our Sharing Nature with Children program tomorrow, August 3 from 10am--11am at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mantis anyone??

Photo Credit: Chad Hudson
We are always encouraging children and adults to turn off the screens and come outside to enjoy nature.  Our popular (and completely full!) Free Time Adventures in Nature program is currently taking place, and will be going on for another week.  During that time, children are encouraged to check out insects, flowers, and all things outside!  Our Assistant Land Manager and interns got in on the fun, and came across one of natures most fierce competitors (when you compare it ounce for ounce) a "praying mantis".

I know these insects are easy to identify for most people but they do not cease to be fascinating.  The quick reflexes of these ambush predators can help them to snag prey that is much larger in size than they are: birds, rodents, even snakes, frogs, and lizards. While they do their job cutting down on those pesky flies that bite us, they have an amazingly adaptable ability (say that three times fast) to attack much larger prey.   There are over 2300 species of praying mantis throughout the world, and all have an extraordinary ability to find prey of all sizes.  They are masters at camouflage, and some use bio-mimicry to fool their prey.  Next time you are out in the woods, keep your eyes out for our tiny predatory friend, the praying mantis, or keep looking because shortly we'll be finding their egg deposits for the next generation.

Do you want your kids to TURN OFF and GET OUTSIDE?? Are Free Time Adventures program is full but join us Saturday for our monthly Children Sharing Nature program at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. 

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