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Monday, November 15th, 2010

Marshes, vineyards and the universe

Mid-way between Sacramento/San Joaquin River Valley and the San Fransico Bay, the Suisun Marsh houses an intricate tidal ecosystem sensitive to extremely minute variations in biological and geomorphological conditions. Joining Dr. Josh Collins at Rush Ranch, our crew took a short trek into the marsh atop a small bedrock outcrop rising above the flat acres of pickleweed. From this vantage point underneath a flight path to a local airbase, Dr. Collins dove into fascinating detail of the tidal landscape spread out before us. Unlike the continental scale tectonic processes we have been observing in the faults of California, tidal systems […]

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Monday, November 15th, 2010

Water, water everywhere…

As the damage to New Orleans from Katrina all but fades from the consciousness of American society, there is a strikingly similar disaster impending on the West Coast, merely awaiting its own “perfect storm.” A sequence of unfortunate but not altogether unlikely events could easily unleash devastation upon hundreds of thousands of residents and millions of dollars of infrastructure below sea level in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river delta. The aging levee system between San Francisco and the state capital has prevented normal deposition of river and tidal sediment, while agriculture and development have drained the ground water and […]

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Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Westward ho!

Bucknell on the Susquehanna is no longer on the East Coast. On Saturday morning, BotS’s fifth Bucknell bus departed from campus, headed for Harrisburg International Airport. A full day of traveling later, at about 6 p.m. local time, our aircraft touched down in San Francisco under clear skies. For the next two weeks, we will explore comparisons and contrasts between western watersheds, ecology, geology, resource management issues, and more. It has not been easy to get here. The better part of our previous week was spent discussing and preparing for this trip and a year of planning before that on […]

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Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The Lower Susquehanna

Located along the mid-Susquehanna River, Bucknell University sees only half of what passes through the watershed into the Chesapeake Bay. Last week, the Bucknell on the Susquehanna program took a journey to the lower reaches of the watershed to explore contrasts and similarities to our own portion of the basin. Monday Stop I: Lancaster County Planning Commission After a bit of a close call with a tree , BotS arrived at the Lancaster County Courthouse to meet with members of the county planning commission, and to hear about the challenges and successes of Pennsylvania’s most comprehensive county development plan. With […]

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Thursday, October 28th, 2010


There are many types of photography, but all of them aim to achieve the same basic principle: to stop time. The role of the photographer is to choose what portion of space is to be frozen in time, for what length of time, and what is the focus of the image. I have personally become quite accustomed to journalistic photography, which focuses primarily on capturing people and places in action. Most of my blog so far has displayed this form of photography, capturing BotS in many of the unique locations we visit, usually pointing at, picking up, or sampling some […]

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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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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

…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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