Volunteer Participation in Rails-to-Trails Habitat Restoration
On Wednesday, February 2 at 7:00pm, the Central PA Chapter of PA IPL hosted a discussion between Greg Williams, PA IPL Coordinator of Habitat Restoration; Ethan Imhoff, Board President of Central PA Rails to Trails (the Lower Trail); and John Frederick, Antis Township Recreation and Environmental Code Director who also is leading the charge on the extension of the Bells Gap RTT, where PA IPL began volunteering 3 years ago.
The idea of using abandoned rail lines as trails for recreation, historic conservation, exercise, and connecting and enhancing communities began in the mid-1960’s and has expanded to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light is a 12-year-old organization of congregations as well as people of faith and conscience concerned about global warming. Six years ago, the Lower Trail allowed PA IPL volunteers to embark on a habitat restoration program with the goal of removing non-native invasive plants that are crowding out native trees and shrubs. Hundreds of volunteers of all ages have, through this work, opened-up views from the trail, and planted thousands of increasingly scarce native trees and shrubs donated by Chesapeake Bay Foundation. These native plants are still available for free. They restore the base of the food chain that feeds native insects and thus native birds, are an investment in the future of more diverse and healthier ecosystems, and are the primary way to sequester excess carbon in our atmosphere.
We are particularly interested in matching other Rails to Trails programs across Pennsylvania with PA IPL members who might be interested in habitat restoration volunteering.