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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 or info@alleghenydefense.org

Fisher Scouting

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


Dear Ryan,

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!!

Sincerely,

Jim Tebary


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

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