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A new column on the Allegheny!
Our efforts to protect the Allegheny National Forest are rooted
in the stories and personal experiences of the many Americans that
have come to know and love this forest. To submit your own story
for future issues of the Hellbender Journal send it to Allegheny
Defense Project, re: Testimonials, PO Box 245, Clarion, PA 16214
Maybe I am not as ecologically literate
as I could be - in fact, I know I am not - but I saw an animal completely
new to me in the Allegheny Forest. It was early in the morning in
the middle of summer, lush and green with shafts of sunlight cutting
through the canopy and glancing off the glossy leaves of rhodedendron
and laurel. Suddenly a shadow darted across the trail. Startled
from his place in the sun on a rock, a dark-furred animal I did
not recognize shot into the brush. I could see where it was by the
hay sented ferns rustling and bending as the creature made its way
away from me. It was not a racoon or an opossum, but just as I was
thinking it could only be a groundhog the thing darted up a tree
and then reversed itself in mid-trunk to check me out. A lean animal
with sharp teeth and tiny claws, it was obviously just as much at
home in the tree as it was on the ground. it sized me up, looking
like it might leap at me to defend itself if I moved. Then, as quickly
as it had appeared, it deftly sidestepped its way out of view to
the hidden half of the trunk, almost like a squirrel, and then nimbly
jumped to the ground and was gone. At home I searched the Peterson's
Guide to Eastern Mammals and finally solved the mystery. It was
a Fisher. I had never even heard of a Fisher.
- Jennifer Chesworth
Just a note to thank you and your organization
for your efforts in trying to protect the ANF. I have subscribed
to the Hellbender list for some months now, and have followed the
unfolding story of events. I was originally attracted to this because
of my love for the ANF. I also love anyone who doesn't believe that
"you can't fight city hall!" I’d like to introduce myself
and explain how the ANF has literally changed my family’s lives.
My name is Jim Tebary (pronounced like the gum). I'm a married,
53 yr.old currently employed as a maintenance worker for the Toledo-Lucas
County Public Library system, a 400 employee organization in Toledo,
Ohio. I live in Sylvania (yes, “city of trees”), Ohio.
My love affair with the ANF began in 1984, when
I first visited on a family trip. We were enthralled by the huge,
hilly forest , clear waters and abundant wildlife. (NW Ohio is flat,
mostly deforested with muddy streams). That trip literally changed
our family's lives. We began travelling the ANF and central Pa.
forests extensively. Our lives literally began to revolve around
visits to the "big woods". We fished for trout in Kinzua
Cr., tent camped at Dewdrop and Kiasutha and just looked for wildlife.
(We saw our first black bears, wild turkeys, deer fawn, pileated
woodpeckers, yellow- bellied sapsucker, porcupines, etc. in the
ANF). Since my wife & I both are physically impaired, we don't backpack
(but envy those who do!), but we do enjoy the interperative trails.
Our only son loved the woods so much he and his wife moved in 2000
after graduation to State College to be closer to them.
I guess the real reason I decided to write is that
we discovered that "there's trouble in paradise", seen
with our own eyes! Comparing our ANF to other forests, such as the
Adirondacks, we were shocked at the relative lack of diversity between
the two. Even allowing for harsher climate (less deer), more water,
and higher latitude didn’t seem to account for all the difference!
We also became aware of the aural and visual pollution forced on
the ANF by numerous gas wells.
Even though I'm very sympathetic to those whose
livelihoods depend on extraction from public lands, (I'm a union
steward-negotiator, CWA Local 4319 AND registered Republican. more
Teddy Roosevelt than Bush), I believe the time is past for more
denigration of public lands. I hope to retire to Pa. in the near
future and get involved in the fight to preserve and enhance the
ANF and other public lands.(I like to fight city hall, also! Last
year I was involved in a local media battle with Centerior Energy
and PUCO, our Ohio reg. agency. They spent several days trying to
rebutt charges I made against them in a TV interview. I was also
involved in a Federal complaint against my employer re: ADA non-compliance.)
Again, thanks for your efforts to help save the ANF!!
Spring 1971 Fish Camp
A spring cold snap brought a chill to our fish camp.
My three friends and I huddled around the smoky fire of oily old
boards we had ripped from a collapsed oil shanty . The billowing
black smoke burned our eyes and added to the damage our lungs were
getting from the cigarettes we shared. I was thirteen. Mike pulled
out some sixteen ounce cans of Budweiser. I tried to drink one but
nausea from the smoke and the cold and my youthful dislike of beer
made it impossible. So I pretended to drink.
It had been a good day fishing the upper reaches
of the East Branch of Tionesta Creek, just off Jo Jo Road in West
Kane. I had spent a couple hours fishing a section of stream near
an abandoned oil well. A small spring seep flowed through the 10
ft by 20 ft pit of gooey tar and slime and trickled slowly down
the slope into the stream. I watched the oil patterns on the water's
surface. The strong smell of decaying crude filled the fresh spring
air. Some how I realized something was very wrong with this scene.
My father had taught us how to fish for trout, especially native
brook trout, when I was very young. We had fished in many streams
across the northern tier of Pennsylvania, in the wild streams of
Lycoming County, Sullivan County , Elk County, and McKean County.
I had been raised to love the forest and the stream with an unconscious
appreciation that I had not even realized until that day. Now, as
I watched the crude oil seeping into the clear water and drift down
over the ripples I wondered about the 10 in brown trout in my creel,
and the crayfish we had boiled for lunch, and the shiny minnows
darting about and pebble encrusted stoneflies crawling in the sandy
bottom. Who, I wondered was in charge? Who was responsible for this
mess being here?
- Darrell E. Frey