‘Nature Awareness’ Posts


Nature Awareness #5

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Explain where your household garbage ends up and what recycling is available in your area? (minimum 100 words)

I use IESI trash service for my area, which delivers all garbage for this area to the Blue Ridge Landfill located on Orchard Rd. in Scotland, PA. It has a long list of clients from around the area, and is involved in three different programs from the Department of Environmental Protection. Air Quality, Land Recycling & Waste Management, Water Pollution Control, and Water Resources Management. They apparently also create 5.1MW of electricity from methane, which they sell to a power company, though I don’t know which one. This is a positive step in the “gas-to-energy” field, which leads me to believe they are at least -attempting- to be environmentally conscious, as much as a landfill can be anyway 🙂

My recycling is also picked up by IESI, but distributed among several facilities. Glass, plastics 1 & 2, aluminum and tin cans are taken to the Washington Township Recycle Center on Rt 16 in Rouserville, PA., and newspaper and cardboard are taken to Chambersburg Waste Paper on Loop Rd, Chambersburg, PA (who I might add, has a hilarious but awesome site logo).

Just doing this small essay has made me think about how intricate waste management systems are in general. Someone was able to create a method of garbage disposal, so that all consumers have to do is pay a quarterly fee and place two bins out on the end of their driveway once a week. Once that truck comes up early in the morning to pick these bins up, a whole array of systems and processes begins. Sorting, distribution, policy, environmental concerns and regulations. It’s a pretty complex process, and most people don’t appreciate the thought and the mistakes that must have gone into making it what it is today.

At the very least, people (myself included) should take a few more minutes to help out by making sure cans are clean, caps are off of soda bottles, and paper/magazines are sorted. Though in my case, we save all of our newspapers to use as starter for our woodstove in the winter.

As far as septic waste, which was not specifically requested in this article but I plan to include anyway, I have not had our septic cleaned yet since we just moved into our home. I am scheduled to have it cleaned in Spring of 2011, and will research and choose a company then to empty out our tank. At our old house before we moved here, our septic had not been cleaned by our landlord in over 29 years. I can only imagine where it has been going all of that time, or what the tank must look like. I feel sorry for any new owners who attempt to clean that up.

(Word Count: 453)

Landfill Methane Outreach Program, “Pennsylvania Landfill Methane Projects”. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. July 15, 2010 <http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/landfill_methane_outreach_program/14091/pa_landfill_methane_projects/589657>.

IESI District Market Manager, IESI Corporation.


Nature Awareness #3

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Describe the park or patch of untended nature closest to your home and what kind of park it is. (minimum 100 words)

The closest untended patch of nature to me is my back-yard, or along the edge of it. Behind my house is an undeveloped set of acreage probably a square-mile in size with gentle rolling hills and large boulders which are common for this area. There is a small house that rents a very small parcel of it about a half-mile back, but the whole of the acreage is owned by a development company.

The way I’ve come to understand it, developers bought the land back in the 80’s to develop, but the township has yet to give them permission to create a driveway onto any of the surrounding roads. They own an easement onto my property as of 1982 and 1985 (they purchased two separate ones), but nothing has been done with it since.

So there it lies, full of song-birds, deer, wild turkey’s, and barred owls among a mix of other critters. It is densely populated with foliage, black walnut, oaks, white birch, maples, and various other indigenous trees. My father and I have created several paths throughout there, and are currently encouraging the turkey population to come closer with gifts of cracked corn, and rotten fruit for the deer.

The divider between that property and my own is a narrow unnamed stream that feeds into Rock Creek below. If I ever get the money, I wouldn’t mind purchasing all of the woods back there and create my own little Gettysburg haven of wilderness. Right now it serves its purpose as my wild spot.

In general, this patch of land that I am on, and the land behind me was all once part of the encampment that surrounded the confederate military hospital two doors up. When dad and I plowed our garden last year, we found a rusted horseshoe, so I can only imagine back in the 1860’s, these woods were also used as cover and rest for their wounded.

(Word Count: 321)


Nature Awareness #4

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(Explain where your household water comes from; what waterway is nearest to your home, and where its source is; where it drains; if there are any large bodies of water (lakes, ocean) near your home; what you know about the quality of water in your region; and what the major concerns in your area regarding your water supply are. Minimum 300 words)

Our household water comes from a 17 foot well set at the corner of our house. There is also an unnamed creek in our back yard that feeds into Rock Creek in Gettysburg and appears to come from an underground spring (as well as road spill-off). There are several surrounding streams nearby (50 in Adams County alone), but none seem to feed directly (from above-ground) into ours, though I’m sure the waterways underground do.

Rock Creek eventually feeds into the Monocacy River in Maryland, which eventually feeds into the Potomac River, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. Hard to believe that my little tiny stream here makes its way out all the way to the ocean from Gettysburg.

On a more mid-atlantic scale, the physiographic province that Gettysburg is located on (and oddly enough this is the same province I lived in when I started the CTP in Maryland), is the Piedmont Province. More specifically, I am in the Gettysburg-Newark Lowland Section of the Piedmont Province. This area is mainly rolling low hills developed on red sedimentary rock. The general drainage pattern is dendritic, or branched like a tree, and elevations are generally 100-200 feet (600 feet in some isolated hills, but Gettysburg as a whole ranges from 400-1000 feet above sea-level). This sedimentary rock in the area came from a narrow, inland dip that formed when North American and Africa separated more than 200 million years ago.

A lot of times after a heavy rain, we’ll see some trash spill over onto the banks of our stream. Chip bags or soft-drink containers. My cousin who has lived up here for years seems to think it’s from the campground up the way, but the stream that goes through there feeds into another leg of water that feeds into rock creek, which is downstream from us. So the trash could not come from there. My guess is it’s mostly from trash thrown on the side of the road, which is very very sad.

Besides a few small ponds that dot the countryside here, the next biggest body of water closest to me is called Lake Heritage. It appears to be a rather high-end community of lake-side homes, but I am unsure whether it feeds into my stream underground, I highly doubt it.

When researching local water concerns in the Gettysburg area, I was put in contact with the PA Department of Environmental Protection, specifically the Watershed Management Program. Through them I learned a lot of the biggest concerns locally are sediment and nutrients from local agriculture. These usually lead to increased nitrogen and phosphorus in the streams which cause algae growth which can deplete the amount of oxygen in the water, endangering aquatic life. It also affects the aquatic insects because it lays on the bottom of the stream as well, which covers their living spaces. Poor agricultural and farming practices can have a large amount to do with a lot of these particular concerns.

It appears that those that are not on independent water systems like us may also start to see severe limits to water supply due to development. The development is putting the aquifers at their limit of production and increasing the amount of storm-water running off, which reduces the amount of water recharging the aquifers. These storms can also have erosion effects on streams, which could affect my stream at some point.

(Word Count: 571)

Physiographic Provinces of Pennsylvania. Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey. Landforms of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. September 11, 2009 <http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/map13/map13.aspx>

Brown, Andrew. GEOLOGY and the Gettysburg Campaign. Gettysburg: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 1962. <http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/education/es5/es5.pdf>

Physiographic Provinces and Their Subdivisions in Maryland. Maryland Geological Survey. A Brief Description of the Geology of Maryland. Resource Assessment Service. September 11, 2009 <http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/brochures/mdgeology.html>

Ground Water: Where Does It Come From?. Carroll County Health Department. Water Quality – Well Maintenance Handbook. Resource Assessment Service. September 11, 2009 <http://www.carrollhealthdepartment.dhmh.md.gov/envirohealth/wellhandbook.html>

Additional Source: http://maps.google.com