Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Water quality, rivertowns and greenways…

Once again based on campus, the BotS crew continues to examine the many different aspects of the Susquehanna River watershed. Starting at the headwaters of Buffalo Creek, we had the opportunity on Monday to take a variety of water quality samples as the creek progresses toward the Susquehanna River. In the mountains, with water flowing through inert bedrock, the stream is highly responsive to changes in acidity. Due to concerns of acid rain affecting the ecology of this portion of Buffalo Creek, the local watershed alliance has constructed a set of artificial wetlands that filter the water through limestone and […]

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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Headwaters in Native Lands: Part II

Day II: October 7, 2010 (…Continued) After a morning spent hearing a history rarely told in Western schools, we had lunch at one of the Onondaga Nation’s two significant income sources, a multi-million dollar enclosed lacrosse area. The arena is currently being converted for the season into a hockey rink, to which former BU LAX coach Jameison quipped, “Hockey just keeps you in shape for lacrosse.” Across the parking lot is the other income source for the Onodaga, a cigarette store capable of selling tobacco products tax-free. Yet this source of income is controversial, as the tribal leaders would rather […]

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Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Headwaters in Native Lands: Part I

It has been said that the beginning is a very good place to start, but the subject of the Susquehanna River is so broad and diverse that it has taken until Week 7 to reach the source of the river. This past week has brought the Bucknell on the Susquehanna crew to a wide variety of historically and culturally significant locations in the upper reaches of the watershed. Leaving Wednesday afternoon on Bus #4, we spent two and a half days in the Finger Lakes region of New York State exploring Native American culture, ecosemiotics (I’m still not convinced that’s […]

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Monday, October 11th, 2010

Perspectives on place

This week’s focus was on the headwaters of the Susquehanna. Over two and a half days the BotS Mobile made its way from Lewisburg to Wapwallopen, Pa., then on to Cortland, N.Y., Onondaga, N.Y., and finally Cooperstown, N.Y. On the drive to New York, we took a break in Wapwallopen and hiked into a small forest where there is a very pretty scenic overlook that shows a vast look at the Susquehanna River valley, complete with the Berwick nuclear plant across the river. You can see where the nuclear plant’s water intake is and it makes me wonder how the […]

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Boom and bust

It’s amazing how things move in cycles. Coal, lumber, oil and now natural gas have created many boom and bust cycles for Pennsylvania. Marcellus Shale, the next boom and bust cycle, is a very controversial topic in Pennsylvania and New York because of the negative impacts it has on the land and those who live on the land. Thursday we went to Dimock, Pa., a town that has been severely impacted by the drilling of natural gas wells. The process of hydrofracking the shale bedrock to release the natural gas involves sending hundreds of gallons of water under high pressure […]

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Monday, October 4th, 2010

The next wave…

Even as Pennsylvania recovers from the after-effects of the coal and logging booms, another natural resource has been discovered within the borders of the Commonwealth, the Marcellus Shale. Over the millennia, the 300 million-year-old shale has been compressed and cooked by the heat of the earth’s  core, producing natural gas trapped in the tight layers of the rock. To extract the methane from the rock, the gas industry has pioneered the use of two specific methods to extract the valuable resource from its present location approximately a mile beneath the surface of the Appalachian Plateau: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. […]

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Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The Legacy of Logging

William Penn’s woods have been subjected to grievous insults over the past century and a half, and the repercussions are still affecting entire regions of the state. Beginning in the mid-1800s, loggers stripped the hills of nearly every standing tree to fuel a growing nation and to sustain the efforts of the Union during the Civil War. The  loggers began with the magnificent stands of white pine, legendary for the size and quality of the trees, especially for ship masts. As is typical in boom and bust economies, the loggers began to expand their take once the highest quality lumber was […]

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Monday, September 27th, 2010

We Didn’t Start the Fire….

This week’s focus was on the socio-economic effects on the watershed. Coal mining and logging have been the historic socio-economic boom and busts of the area, and now Marcellus Shale is looking like it will be the next commodity to take the same course. This week has been full of field trips to Centralia, Pioneer Coal Mine and the Lumber Museum in Galeton, Pa. This was my second trip to Centralia and the Pioneer Coal Mine, but it wasn’t any easier emotionally to walk through Centralia. Centralia has had a coal fire burning beneath the town since the 60s. Slowly […]

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Monday, September 27th, 2010

…burning since the world’s been turning: mine fires and coal in Central Pennsylvania

There is no other state I know with such a wide-spread affinity for burning things as is found in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But on May 27, 1962, instead of simply burning up trash and debris in the Centralia town dump,  several firefighters accidentally set the ground beneath their feet on fire. The fire escaped from the surface, into a seam of anthracite coal, the very resource that established both town of Centralia all the towns all across the Hard Coal region of Pennsylvania. The fire burns on, decades later, as proved by the steam and smoke still escaping from […]

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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Measuring the Watershed

After a week on the road, it almost feels like a vacation to stay around Lewisburg for our activities. We nonetheless remained quite busy, visiting Cowan several times, electro-shocking a portion of a small creek to collect samples of aquatic lifeforms, and visiting local farms that ultimately affect the Chesapeake Bay that we just visited the week before. The beginning of the week involved understanding watershed science, from both a geomorphological and an ecological perspective. We measured stream discharge, surveyed a cross-section of Buffalo Creek, and I was amazed at the number of small fish that turned up in a stream that […]

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