Pollution isn’t just a 20th century issue. The Industrial Revolution so polluted our waterways that by the 1850’s, Pennsylvania’s native trout population was decimated, leading to PA’s first trout hatchery in 1874. However, continuing urban development has eradicated woods and forests, exposing streams directly to the blazing summer sun. Trout prefer 550 water; at 800, mortality leaps to 80%-90% because warm water releases oxygen, and like humans, trout require oxygen. Without intervention, PA would be troutless.
SLCFSA Does Its Part
Kenny Shoemaker and John Herr started SLCFSA’s own trout nursery in 1968, just before the Clean Water Act of 1972. Each summer, the Chambersburg Hatchery sends us 1500 brown, 1500 rainbow, and 50 palomino fingerlings.
Resting in a secluded woods, our nursery is fed by a stream bypass, the stream originating from a spring 3 miles north. Gallons per minute range from 250-350 according to seasonal conditions, and dampers regulate flow as needed.
In all weather, morning and evening, nursery guardian Jeff Workman attends our 3050 trout babies, checking the pipes for clogs and adjusting flow. He also salts the water to 1% once a month to ensure healthy immune systems. The salt bath kills parasites and cleans the gills, making the fish nice and slimy. A slimy fish is a healthy fish!
Each spring, 3000+ new adults enter the real world, and life soon grows treacherous under the gaze of swirling eagles and lures of fishermen and children. Trout which escape can’t increase the population, as domestically hatched and raised fish do not reproduce.
Preserving the Future
The original cement block nursery continued operations uninterrupted for 47 years until June 2017, when SLCFSA completely rebuilt the 4’ x 50’ raceway of poured concrete with rebar. The hatches are heavy screen frames covered with fine-mesh netting to keep out curious predators. Even a frog couldn’t fit, and they are much too heavy for raccoons or weasels.
SLCFSA considered a larger nursery but any increase required a fish excrement treatment plant, costing $50-70K, so 3050 trout remains our yearly contribution to Pennsylvania’s population. Next time you pull your line, maybe you’ll find an SLCFSA trout!
Part of conservation is rebalancing disrupted ecosystems. Urban growth is one of those great un-balancers, destroying habitats which provide food and shelter for wildlife. Many of us who remember pheasants wandering in our neighborhoods years ago haven’t seen them recently.
Tasty for fox, hawks, and owls, pheasants are largely defenseless except for excellent eyesight. But without hedgerows and forests, where can they hide?
Since the 1980s, SLCFSA has provided pheasants for the community. Each spring, SLCFSA begins raising 40 peeps, approximately equally male and female, for release into the wild around October. You may see them gliding in and out of the weeds and bushes, displaying their gorgeous colors when you come to the ranges.
Youth Conservation School
Past president, Robert K. Mowrer, was instrumental in establishing parks and wild areas in the county. He also organized the Lancaster County Junior Conservation Camp, now called the Youth Conservation School. For many years, SLCFSA has paid the way for a Solanco student to attend this week-long camp each summer at the Northern Lancaster Fish and Game Protective Association.
Students, ages 14-16, come from all over the county. Some haven’t been lucky enough to grow up close to nature, to go camping on family vacations, and to enjoy the outdoors daily, so this school plays a vital part in encouraging a conservation mindset in youth accustomed to strictly urban settings and in allowing those of many backgrounds to rub shoulders for a common cause.
Curriculum focuses on proper waste management, maintaining the habitats of Pennsylvania’s diverse wildlife, and practical skills such as fly-tying and fishing, setting up and tearing down camp, chopping wood and making a campfire, firearm maintenance, how the Game Commission K9 Unit tracks poachers, and much more.
“Scouts was one of the keys in preparing me to be an adult” is a praise you can hear from many. How so? Scouts stimulates all sides of the growing child – mental, physical, and spiritual. It teaches mechanical skills, problem-solving, discipline, confidence, submission to authority paired with the ability to self-advocate, the value of history and traditions, understanding one’s inner self, and expending oneself on behalf of others.
SLCFSA sponsors New Providence and Quarryville Cub Scout Pack 76, Boy Scout Troop 76, and Sea Scouts. Scouts performs many activities throughout the year to promote conservation of natural resources, as well as support patriotic traditions, such as flag retirement ceremonies.
Cub Scout News: Twice in October, our Cub Scouts spread 100 lbs. of grass seed around our 200+ newly-planted arborvitae along our club perimeter.
Boy Scout News: Before Christmas, our Boy Scouts assisted at Fort Indiantown Gap with laying over 27,000 wreaths on the graves of our service men and women. They will help collect them on January 20th.
Cub Scout registration: Casey Bridwell (717) 826-3355
Boy & Sea Scout registration: Fritz Knerr (717) 687-0686
A pollinator meadow is a field habitat, denoted by grasses, in an open, sunny area. It attracts flora and fauna which cannot survive in other conditions but are nonetheless necessary for the entire local ecosystem. It also provides cover for smaller animals, giving them room to hide, breed, and raise their young. Of course, this perpetuates a food source for our many beautiful hawks and owls.
Pollinators living in these meadows come in thousands of forms, from bugs to rodents, bats, and birds. These keep the cycle of vegetation growing from year to year, helping to prevent erosion and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. Anything with seeds – apples, green beans, tomatoes – depends on a pollinator. Without them, we could not grow crops.
Of particular value are wildflowers, necessary for honeybees. Some studies show that eating locally produced honey can mitigate the effect of allergies.
SLCFSA’s fields also contain milkweed, required for the glorious king of butterflies. Monarchs lay their eggs in milkweed, and the caterpillars eat only milkweed. In that picture to the right you see one of our very own monarchs!