ENVIRONMENT

A Waterway Renewed

A beautiful place to enjoy nature this spring is approximately two hours north of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Bennett Branch in Elk County. The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area includes 24 acres of forested land, located off State Route 555 in Benezette Township, and provides direct…

Ode to an Ash

“When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder lions hunker down in tall grasses and even elephants lumber after safety…” —Maya Angelou

The Region’s Top 10 Air Polluters

Although the region’s air has improved dramatically from the height of Pittsburgh’s industrial past, southwestern Pennsylvania remains home to factories and power plants that release millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data to track toxic chemicals released…

Inconspicuous and Dangerous

The heavy smoke is gone. But particulates 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and gases formed by the reaction of sunlight and fossil fuels exhaust remain as the region’s most widespread, stubborn and dangerous air quality problems.

Up in the Air

Southwestern Pennsylvania and air quality have long had a complicated relationship. For the better part of a century, the region had been a place so polluted from the soot of industry and homes heated by coal that street lamps were lit in the afternoon and walking a single block could…

The Blue-​Gray Gnatcatcher

by David Liebmann
One spring, I ventured south to Savannah, Georgia, for some sun and warmth. As a coastal locale and part of the Atlantic flyway, it was rich with avifauna heading back to nesting territories farther north in places like western Pennsylvania. It was March, and the streets of that wonderful city…

The Northern Cardinal

by David Liebmann
Winter puts birders in a different mood. There are birds about, but they are fewer and generally more muted — focused on finding food, staying warm and getting through. The birds that stick around for a Pittsburgh winter are hardier, more committed, the stalwarts. They are the loyalists of cold.

Old-​Growth Majesty

One of the most spectacular places to visit in western Pennsylvania is an old-​growth forest in the Hearts Content National Scenic Area within the Allegheny National Forest. A timber company gave the property to the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1920s, and today this area is home to one…

Erie Bluffs State Park

One of the most distinctive places to explore in Pennsylvania is Erie Bluffs State Park. Located west of the City of Erie, the park sits along more than a mile of lakefront near Lake City, west of the mouth of Elk Creek and north of PA Route 5.

Swainson’s Thrush

by David Liebmann
Fall is a time of movement: college students packed in SUVs returning to classes, younger kids nervous to get back to school, the lazy days of summer fading fast. Millions of birds are moving, too, some passing through the Pittsburgh area en route to wintering grounds to the south.

The Best of Intentions

I just hope my mother doesn’t testify against me… if she does, I am in deep trouble.

The Clarion River

One of the best rivers in western Pennsylvania for paddling and nature watching is the Clarion River, starting about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh. The Clarion River corridor between the towns of Ridgway and Clarion is remote, rich in public lands and hosts large expanses of uninterrupted forest.

American Redstart

by David Liebmann
Are we separate from nature or part of it? Superior to all creatures, the apex of creation, or simply one species among millions? Does self awareness make us unique? What about our sense of past, present and future?

Great Allegheny Passage

One of the most wonderful trail additions in western Pennsylvania has been the Great Allegheny Passage which runs 150 miles between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md., where it joins the C&O Canal Towpath and continues to Washington, D.C.

Neither, Either, Or

If you want to explore the vexing subject of global climate change, Seamus McGraw is the guy to have as a tour guide. He will not torture your brain with elaborate science, tax your patience with lectures about evil consumer habits, or bash you over the head with partisan arguments.…
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