ENVIRONMENT

Behold the Crow

On winter afternoons, thin inky streaks flow across Pittsburgh skies. They follow invisible channels leading over leafless hillsides, empty schoolyards and ice-​strewn rivers. They drift, break apart and reconstitute, often in the city’s East End in great airborne swirls. They are the crows of Pittsburgh.

A Rhapsody in Blue

by R.F. Levine
This summer, as Pittsburgh hosts World Environment Day and the world focuses on biodiversity, a small river 90 miles north of the city will do what it has always done. Quietly, its waters wind along a 117-​mile path from Chautauqua County, New York, into western Pennsylvania, where it joins the…

Protecting Cook Forest

by Bette McDevitt
Anthony Cook has a name that carries responsbility. He is the fifth generation of the Cook family — and the fourth named Anthony — involved in the creation and preservation of Cook Forest State Park.

The Ligonier Valley

Located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, the Ligonier Valley rests between the northern stretches of Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Ridge. Its pastoral scenic beauty includes productive farmland, historic farmhouses, and fields and woods crossed by the Loyalhanna, Indian and Tubmill creeks.

Our city, our water

An April 23 Forbes article describes “America’s 10 Thirstiest Cities,” and, of course, each is west of the Rockies and faces some degree of water crisis. Closer to home, the Great Lakes, which hold roughly 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, have dropped dramatically in the past decade. Explanations…

The Coast of Lake Erie

Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastline is a place of beauty, drama and hidden environmental treasures. The bluffs and beach along this shoreline and the nearby forested ravines and gorges, seasonal pools and interior tributaries, make a special destination for anyone intent on exploring Western Pennsylvania’s most interesting natural areas.

Rose-​Breasted Grosbeak

There is a veteran haberdasher at a certain long-​established men’s clothier in downtown Pittsburgh who watches birds. Let’s call him Kenny. Seeing this column one day, he asked me about an unusual avian visitor he saw in the trees of his yard. “It was black and white with a big…

Rocks of Ages

The Laurel Highlands. The very name hints of a special place. Its boundaries lie in the eye of the beholder, but most agree that the Highlands are east and south of Pittsburgh in Somerset, Fayette and Westmoreland counties. Thousands of skiers, hunters, hikers and rafters enjoy this unique geography, but…

Parks for the Future

by Christine Fulton
When I was growing up in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County’s parks were special places to me. I learned to ski at Boyce Park, and my family had fall picnics at Hartwood Acres. As an adult, I’ve explored them in different ways — mountain biking, rollerblading and going to concerts. And since November, when…

Laurel Hill Creek

In Somerset County, the cold, clear waters of Laurel Hill Creek run through forests and farmland, state parks and backyards, joining the Casselman River and, just downstream, the Youghiogheny.

The Ruffed Grouse

Imagine a bird like a chicken, but a little sleeker, a little more wild. Rufous, gray, with a tail that is barred with black and white stripes at the tips. When the tail pops open in a half circle, it resembles an earth-​tone parasol. What’s most visually arresting about the…

The Great Blue Heron

Years ago, I found a long, light bone with honeycomb latticework inside that probably belonged to a juvenile Great Blue Heron. After a winter storm, the bone lay in a pile of sticks that had blown down from the crown of an oak tree just off the 18th hole of…

Fall Run Park

by Paul G. Wiegman
The verdancy of summer is best experienced in a narrow western Pennsylvania ravine. These places are particularly inviting after thundershowers wash the air crystal clear, polish the leaves to a glistening shine, and fill streams with roiling water.

Gone Fishing

At various times in a fisherman’s life, it becomes desirable to try a new spot. Perhaps an old place gets too crowded. Maybe the fish move on. Or maybe one simply wants a change of scenery. Of course, truly knowing a fishing spot means getting there early, before the fish…

The American Robin

by David Liebmann
The early bird catches the worm,” so the proverb tells us. As the light and warmth of spring slowly thaw western Pennsylvania, it’s likely that the American Robin will be that early morning bird with an unsuspecting wiggler in its beak.
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