Ben Moyer

Ben Moyer writes about nature, outdoors and conservation issues from his home in western Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.

The Blackberry: The Humblest Jewel

If you were tasked with designing a wild fruit to represent western Pennsylvania, you might come up with the blackberry. Its familiar, arcing canes spread over logged hillsides and reclaimed strip mines, beside railroad tracks and across abandoned farmland reverting to woods. Blackberries are an unplanned bonus from hard-used land. Such a luscious treat, blackberries …

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Memoirs of a Quehanna Chief

“Wanted: Young men, college graduates, comfortable outdoors.” ­—Uniontown Evening Standard I was enthralled by a classified ad that appeared in late March 1976. To work in some way conserving the outdoors where I’d grown up fishing, hunting and foraging wild plants was how I’d always envisioned my life. But what job could this be? The …

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Golden Eagle: High, Wild and Here

Imagine the view from a thousand feet up. Snow-mantled ridges cloaked in barren forest, angling southwestward as far as an eagle can see. On the northwest horizon stands a crisp urban skyline above the glint from three rivers. That’s the view golden eagles survey as they soar along the Laurel Highlands to their wintering grounds …

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What Happened at Thompson’s Island?

Were you to launch a canoe at the U.S. Forest Service Buckaloons boat ramp, where Brokenstraw Creek enters the Allegheny River, then float down toward the borough of Tidioute, the setting would appear much as it must have to a party of Seneca Indians paddling the same route in the late summer of 1779. Carried …

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Elk on the Alleghenies

Benezette, Pennsylvania is not a place you happen upon en route to somewhere else. There are easier ways across the Allegheny Plateau than to snake eastward in Elk County from Weedville along Rte. 555, with the Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek gnawing at the south berm while pine-studded Allegheny crests soar across the windshield. Benezette, …

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Nature’s shape shifter

Pennsylvania stands near the center center of an intriguing and complex natural phenomenon. Across the recent span of roughly three decades, coyotes have exploited every available habitat here, from remote woods of the Allegheny National Forest to Pittsburgh’s urban fringe, while carving out a still-evolving ecological niche. All but unheard-of before 1980, coyotes now live …

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