Posts Tagged With: bald eagles

Raystown Natural Resources – the foundation of your Raystown Region Experience

By Jeff Krause

Common sights at Raystown Lake include fishermen trolling for stripers, bikers on the Allegrippis trails, sun bathers on the beach and campers sitting by the fire ring.  These recreational activities are shared among the 1.5 million visitors each year who travel to Raystown to escape their busy lives.  Although not often mentioned, there is one common bond between all these recreational activities – the beauty and diverse natural resources that make the Raystown Region special.   After all, would visitors still come if the green forest mountains and clear, fish filled waters were replaced with paved parking lots and unclean, unfishable waters.  We must remember that our natural resources are the foundation for the outdoor recreational experiences we enjoy so much.

SONY DSCSome of the unique offerings at Raystown include a world class two story fishery that provides common warm water fish such as black bass and walleye while also offering trophy size striped bass and lake trout.   Hundreds of annual fishing tournaments and the PA state record striped bass are testaments to the great fishery created by clean water.

The availability of fish have also made Bald eagles common place at Raystown and may be considered the favorite for wildlife viewing.  Numerous nesting locations have produced almost 60 young nestlings in the past 13 years and hot spots below the dam and near the Entriken bridges are good viewing locations from December through March.

The rock outcrops common at Raystown contain important shale barren habitat and great natural beauty.  These barrens which can exceed 100 degrees in early April provide a rare environment that host both plant and animals that only inhabit the extreme conditions.  Observing the evening primrose’s yellow bloom close to the water’s edge is one offering of this unique habitat.

The most dominant natural feature of Raystown is the nearly 18,000 acres of forest land surrounding the lake providing a landscape of mountains, valleys and ridges that surrounds the lake.  The plant and wildlife resources utilizing the adjacent forest and habitat include over 20 species of concern such as the bald eagle, osprey, several species of bats, golden -winged warblers and cerulean warblers.     Visitors may also see a river otter sliding down a bank, a fisher searching for food, a fence lizard scurry down a tree or one of the American chesntut seedlings attempting to re-establish itself from a century of blight.

When you pause to allow your adrenaline levels to drop after that adventure on the Allegrippis,  catching air under your personal watercraft or a ride on the zip lines, take a look around and take note of the supporting natural beauty of the Raystown Region that adds that breathtaking landscape to your experience.

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes, aelandesphotography.com

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes, aelandesphotography.com

About the Author: Jeff Krause is a Wildlife Biologist in his 19th year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has spent the past 15 at Raystown Lake.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bald eagles at home on Raystown Lake.

By Ranger Tara Whitsel

Freedom. Strength. Resilience. The Bald Eagle represents a multitude of things. Since the mid 1970’s Bald Eagles have been making a slow and steady comeback from the effects of habitat loss and DDT pesticide use. Fortunately, Raystown Lake has played witness to that success with populations steadily increasing around the lake.

2014 Eagle Map

The staff at Raystown Lake observed and began monitoring the first known eagle nest on the lake in 1999 near the Raystown Dam. To date, five nests have been located around the lake in addition to a steady migratory population. Each year the Natural Resource Staff at Raystown Lake implements a monitoring program to support the Pennsylvania Game Commission in their efforts to monitor and track bald eagle nesting within the Commonwealth. Although the bald eagle was removed from the Federal Endangered Species List, it remains federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. In addition, the bald eagle remains on the threatened species list in Pennsylvania and therefore protected under the Game and Wildlife Code.

Monitoring efforts begin in January when the Corps joined the PA Game Commission on a state-wide mid winter bald eagle survey. The purpose of this survey is to count the number of eagles across the state during a very specific period of time. The first survey was conducted on Raystown in 1990 with only 2 eagles being observed and while that number fluctuates each year due to a variety of lake and surveying conditions we have observed as many as 19 eagles during a single event, which includes both adults and juveniles. The Raystown Staff continues monitoring efforts over the course of the next 6 months to determine which nests will be utilized by a pair during the breeding season and the number of successful fledglings produced in each nest.

Since nesting was first observed at Raystown Lake, 2013 marked the fledging of the 70th at Raystown. Across the state, eagles typically begin nesting activities which includes cleaning and enlarging their nest during January and February. A female typically lays between one to three eggs that hatch sometime in late March or early April, which is approximately 35 days after incubation has begun. Both adults will tend to and feed the young until they leave the nest, or fledge, which at Raystown occurs on or around the fourth of July. The juveniles will remain near the nest throughout the fall observing other eagles and practicing their hunting skills.

To spot the eagles look skyward or toward shoreline trees with open branches. Generally, adult eagles are quite easy to spot with their signature white head and tail. Juvenile eagles have proven to be a slightly greater challenge to properly identify. While juvenile eagles are still significantly large birds; they retain brown feathers over the entire body until they are approximately four years of age and typically demonstrate the full white head and tail by age five.

If you are looking for the nests, the easiest nest to view is located across the lake from the public access area of the Raystown Dam. Many are surprised however, to find that the nest they are currently observing is not the original nest discovered in 1999. While we strongly believe it to be the same pair of eagles, the nest has actually been replaced three times, as each prior nest has lasted only a few years before either the tree in which the nest was located fell during winter or spring storms or the nest has fallen out of the tree due to its increase in size each year. After each loss of nest, the pair has usually rebuilt within a 100 yards of the previous nest site and generally within a few weeks if the start of breading season was near. The remaining four nests require a boat or a very dedicated and strenuous hike for observation.

We encourage you to take the challenge and visit Raystown for the opportunity to observe these powerful yet graceful birds of prey as they hunt and tend to their young. We do ask that you observe posted restrictions and not encroach upon the nests as we take each precaution to encourage successful nesting and development of Raystown’s bald eagles.

About the author: Ranger Tara Whitsel has been a Park Ranger/Natural Resource Specialist for the Raystown Lake Project since 2003 where she is responsible for ensuring the protection of the projects natural resources. Prior to joining the Raystown team, Tara began her career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a seasonal Park Ranger at Blue Marsh Lake, Philadelphia District in 2000. Tara is a 2003 graduate of Kutztown University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. Tara currently resides in Southern Huntingdon County with her family. Together they enjoy all types of outdoor activities.

EagleBest_MeganPhotography_EDitedWWW

Photo by Megan Photography  http://www.meganphotography.net

 

Eagle Update: This year, there have been no confirmed juveniles in the Raystown nests. By this time of year, they can usually be seen in the limbs surrounding the nest, exercising and getting their wings ready to fly, but none of that behavior has been observed. We speculate that this is because of the extended winter and ice cover on the lake. However, adult eagles are still in the area. 

This is the first year that the Shy Beaver nesting pair has not been successful.  Monitoring will continue, and hopefully next spring will be once again fruitful for the eagles of Raystown. 

 

 

 

Categories: 2014 Visitors Guide, History, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Huntingdon Lifestyle as defined by Webster’s

Publisher’s Note: This article first appeared in the 2008 edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.

 By Lisa Roth

Webster’s defines the noun lifestyle as a way of life or style of living that reflects the values and attitudes of an individual or group. Prior to 1993, I would have to say my husband’s and my own style of living reflected packrat values coupled with a lazy nomadic attitude. In other words, when it became impossible to ignore the need to spring-clean it became entirely possible to move. So move we did, every two or three years thanks to our educational needs, and we averted many a spring-clean as a result.

Then came our move to Huntingdon with a toddler and dog in tow. That move, coupled with having our first child, was the beginning of a whole new level of “expensive toy buying years.” John and I bought our first car, then another, our first home, then another one, two, three kids arrived, and more pets. One day I looked up and 15 years had passed.

We had been so busy growing a family, a career, a zoo-like atmosphere that we never stopped long enough to realize we had also grown roots. Strong, powerful roots. The years had passed and we hadn’t moved, like clockwork, to another place. Why didn’t we?

Huntingdon had ceased to be our stepping stone and instead became our destination. While it is neither the fastest nor slowest paced place in which I have lived, I love it. In 10 minutes, I can be anywhere downtown on foot and anywhere in town by vehicle. Driving time in this county IS driving time, not sitting in traffic time.

Here I am surrounded by natural beauty; cradled by gently sloping hills, ridges, and Tussey Mountain and lulled to sleep by meandering streams, creeks, and Juniata River. My heart soars with the birds of prey overhead and pounds at the sight of majestic bald eagles nesting at Raystown Dam.

We enjoy good food, good neighbors and friends, in a quiet, small town atmosphere. The county is rich with history, architecture, and wildlife and we enjoy many outdoor activities afforded us by its landscape. It is still a great place in which to raise a family.

Webster’s sociological definition of roots is the condition of being settled and of belonging to a particular place or society. John and I have now lived in Huntingdon longer than anywhere else, over our entire lives. Whatever your reason for visiting Huntingdon, make it a point to look around, try something familiar, and also something new. Breathe, relax, enjoy, maybe you’ll grow roots too.

Lisa Roth is a Development Specialist for College Advancement at Juniata College.

Webster’s is a dictionary.

Categories: 2008 Visitors Guide, Lifestyle, Retirement | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

And So It Begins…

Today is the official opening of the Seven Points Campground at Raystown Lake, which surrounds our office at the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center!  The campground is being managed this year for the first time by the Friends of Raystown Lake, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help promote and protect the environmental and recreational missions of the Army Corps of Engineers Raystown Lake Project by engaging in partnerships to further those missions.  As the recreation mission of the Corps continues to deal with decreases in the federal budget, organizations like the Friends of Raystown Lake are finding creative ways to keep a good thing going at Army Corps projects around the country.  We applaud them for that!

Although we have a good number of campgrounds, vacation homes, B&B’s, and hotels that are open year-round in the Raystown Lake Region, there is a general consensus that April is the “soft opening” of our tourism season.  By the end of April almost all of our places to stay and attractions are open for business (there are a handful that won’t  open until Memorial Day Weekend).  Here are a few reasons why April is a great time to visit the RLR.

  • The Fish! Trout season begins in Huntingdon County on April 14th.  Even if you don’t like to fish, it is always an amazing drive along route 26 between McAlevy’s Fort and  Huntingdon to see the linear tent city that develops beginning Friday, April 13th.  For the local trout stocking schedule, click here.  We have world-class trout streams in the Little Juniata River, Spruce Creek, Standing Stone Creek, Shavers Creek, Great Trough Creek, and Blacklog Creek.  We also have great fishing for species other than trout in Raystown Lake, and on the Juniata River.  Check out our partner site at The Alleghenies for great fishing options in the region.
  • The Blossoms! From yellow forsythia, white apple, soft pink pear, hot pink redbud, lilac, rhododendron, and white mountain laurel, the blossoms on our native trees and shrubs is gorgeous during April (some started blooming with an early warm spell in March).  Spring in our niche of The Alleghenies is equally as beautiful as our autumn leaves.
  • The Birds! Whether you are a novice who marvels at the sight of a bald eagle, or a seasoned ornithologist with a life list of songbirds, we’ve got the place for you!  For a guaranteed look  at raptors, check out Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, where their raptor center features a variety of live birds of prey that due to injury, would not likely survive in the wild.  For a great place to view and hear songbirds, check out the Hillside Nature Trail at Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake.
  • The Shows! April in Huntingdon County, brings with it a lot of great shows.  The Playhouse at McConnellstown opens its season with Belles in April as Juniata College closes its season with fantastic student performances in theater and music.  April also kicks off a great season of outdoor concerts with the live music at Mayfest of Huntingdon!  Shows also include minor league and NCAA baseball, as well as Penn State Football‘s annual Blue-White Game.

So whatever your passion is this spring, bring it to the Raystown Lake Region, and stop in and see us at the Visitors Center while you’re here!

Categories: Events, HCVB News, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dam & Eagle Tour

Publishers note: This article first appeared in the 2007 edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.  The location of the eagles’ nest visible from the breast of the dam has changed, as the winter of 2010-2011 caused the dead tree supporting it to fall.  The pair of eagles that built that nest is rebuilding in the same area.  This tour is still our most popular driving tour from the Visitors Center.

Old eagles' nest near Raystown Dam, Huntingdon, PA by Vickie Smith

This photo is of the former eagles' nest described in this article near Raystown Dam. The pair of eagles is building a new nest near this location since the tree fell destroying the nest pictured. (Photo by Vickie Smith)

By Pam Prosser

Gather the friends/family for a great tour
Grab Binoculars
Wear half decent walking shoes (easy walking)
Pick up lunch or dinner/ or wine and hors d’oeuvres at your favorite place
Go! 

The Dam & Eagle Tour is a winning combination of scenic drive, vistas, catching a glimpse of our resident American Bald Eagles home, a short hike through 4 eco-systems and opportunities to picnic and kayak if you wish.

Your adventure starts from the Raystown Lake Visitor Center and will last from 2-4 hours, depending upon how you design the trip for your group. Although my favorite time is first thing in the morning, the scenery and overlooks can be beautiful & romantic for a sunset tour.

Traveling from the Visitors Center to Huntingdon via Piney Ridge Road is truly a scenic drive if you like mountain views, on the right you’ll see Terrace Mountain which parallels Raystown Lake; and to the left you’ll see Tussey Mountain, the towns of McConnellstown, Smithfield and eventually Huntingdon. The ‘ridge road’ has plenty of ‘S’ curves so take it easy, enjoy the view. When you begin to descend the mountain, again, use caution; see if you can guess which set of guard rails gets the most company by locals and visitors.

Smithfield (US Rt 22) and Historic Huntingdon (access from 4th St) are your best bets for grabbing picnic food or arranging for a canoe/kayak delivery service should you choose to paddle the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River while on this tour.

Once you turn onto Snyders Run Road, just follow the signage and cue sheet provided. Note: the gate to the overlooks is open 9AM to dusk from Mid April to Mid December, you are permitted to hike in, just please don’t block the gate. Take some time at the overlooks to observe the actual dam and an incredible mountain view beyond the dam a Ridenour Overlook. Once you’ve enjoyed this, you MUST walk the 300 yards to Hawn’s Overlook, this view was featured on the front cover of the PA Visitors Guide a few years back, it is one of the most photographed places in The Alleghenies. If you want to add romance to this tour, this is the place to be around sunset. You may want to come back to this spot again and again, it is just that magnificent.

From the overlooks, drive a short distance to go over that dam structure you just saw at Ridenour. Once you go over the dam (thinking about how this earthen structure is holding back 8,300 acres of water) and park, look towards the mountain from which you just came (you can see the clearing at Ridenour overlook). With the dam on your right; find 7 while buoys close to the shoreline of the mountain.  Count, from the dam, to the 2nd and 3rd buoy; between these two buoys, move your binoculars ¼ of the way up the mountain to see the nest. It is in a dead tree so you can see it even when foliage is full. Of course, in the spring, one of the pair is in or around the nest, after the eaglets fledge, you’ll see them more often below the dam.

As you drive on Point Road parallel to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, be sure to have your eyes (unless you are the driver) glued to the opposite side of the river; between the dam and Corbin’s island, look for sycamore trees; the eagles often perch on the dead snag to fish below the dam.   As an extra bonus, there is often our resident great blue heron in these waters as well.

Options for other activities along Point Road are kayak/canoe/float trip, picnic, and a short nature trail.  Corbin’s Island Recreation Area offers picnic tables and a ramp for those who may wish to float the Raystown Branch of the Juniata. This area also offers picnic tables and rest room facilities.

According to the hiking professionals at the US Army Corp of Engineers, “The Riverside Nature Trail offers a rare opportunity to observe four distinct ecosystem communities during a hike of just ½ mile. You’ll return along the same path making a total journey of one mile through riverine, wetland, successional forest and open field ecosystems.” If you have children, you will want to pick up the trail map and have the kids complete the scavenger hunt; when complete bring to visitor center for a certificate of completion.

For those who plan the float trip, you’ll find the PA Fish and Boat Commission ramp at  “The Point”; continue on Point Road which will bring you back to Rt 22.

After such a great day, time to think about lunch or dinner or shopping to finish out the day; make sure you have our ‘Where to Eat, Where to Shop” brochure which will describe all your opportunities.

Cue Sheet for Dam & Eagle Tour

 

From the Raystown Lake Visitor Center Mileage
Right from Visitor Center Parking Lot to 7 Points Road

2.9

Right on Piney Ridge Road

6.9

Right on Crooked Creek RD

0.3

Right on US Rt 22

0.5

Right on Snyders Run Road

0.4

Straight on Henderson Overlook Rd

0.4

Right on Henderson  Overlook Rd

2.5

Slight left at stop sign to overlooks

1

Park at Ridenour Overlook park
Walk 300 Yards to Hawn’s Overlook walk
From Parking lot to Right on Stone Bridge Hollow Rd

1.5

Right on Stone Bridge Hollow Rd

1

Right on Point Road driving over the dam

0.4

Point Road to Corbin’s Island Recreation Access Area

1.1

Point Road to Riverside Nature Trail Parking Area

2.2

Point Road to Henderson Hollow & Snyders Run Road

3.8

Straight to intersection with US Rt 22

0.4

Left on US 22 West to Crooked Creek Rd

0.5

Left on Crooked Creek Road to Piney Ridge Road

0.3

Left on Piney Ridge Road to 7 Points Road

6.9

Left on 7 Points Road to Visitors Center

2.9

Categories: 2007 Visitors Guide, Group Travel, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birding Opportunities Abound

Publisher’s Note: The following article appeared in the 2005 Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.  Some links that are no longer active have been removed from its original form.  Lake Perez that is mentioned in the article has since been drained, although the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and Stone Valley Recreation Area that were once on its shores, are still going strong!

by Chet Clark, AmeriCorps Member, Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps

Information provided by:

Robert Criswell, PA Game Commission; Chuck Yohn, Juniata College; Jeff Krause, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Dave Kyler, Juniata Valley Audubon Society member

Whether it’s a trip to a known birding hotspot or an afternoon watching out the window at home, bird watching as a hobby is on the rise. In fact, in a recent survey, bird watching was at the top of the list for fastest growing activities in the country with an increase in participation of 232 percent since 1983. This increase in popularity is evident in many ways; for example, more than 500,000 copies of The Sibley Guide to Birds have been printed since its release in October 2000, making it the fastest selling bird book ever. Birding festivals are on the increase around the nation as well. In the early 1990’s only a dozen or so existed in the U.S., now about 200 take place annually.

The number of birding trails also is increasing. One unique birding trail was developed in Texas, and over half the states in the nation have followed its lead, including Pennsylvania. These driving trails incorporate stops along the open road at sites chosen for their great birding opportunities. One such trail has been developed in the Susquehanna watershed, which includes the Juniata watershed. The trail stretches across 27 counties (including Huntingdon County) and features 200+ bird and wildlife sites, trails, and scenic drives. Along with the development of this trail, a guide, titled Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail (available at the Raystown Lake Visitor Center), was created identifying the individual sites. With this guide bird watchers have directions to the best spots to enjoy the many beautiful species of avifauna found in the Raystown Lake Region.  Over 25 sites lie within the Juniata River watershed and adjacent areas of the region.

A good place to start your search for our feathered friends is at one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA). These areas were designated by Audubon as such for their abundance and/or diversity of avifauna. One such spot is the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River, situated in northern Huntingdon County, just off Water Street. “Lower Trail,” part of the Rails-to-Trails system which runs for 16 miles along the river, takes you into some excellent ridge and valley riparian forest habitat. This site is one of Pennsylvania’s most important Cerulean Warbler breeding areas. There are an estimated 50-60 breeding pairs of this illusive warbler along the trail. The Cerulean Warbler is a small bluish-colored (black streaks in the blue above with a white underside) warbler, with a habit of remaining in the high, dense tree canopies. Despite the difficulty of sighting them, their song (rapid buzzes followed by a longer drawn out buzz, zray, zray, zray, zreeeee) can usually be heard throughout the day. Excellent concentrations of other breeding riparian species also are found here. Neotropical migrants (such as the Northern Parula with its bold yellow chin and yellow and chestnut breast with a slate-colored body) are typically much higher in number in this area during the early portion of the spring migration (late April-early May), due to early leaf-out along the river.

Another IBA is Canoe Creek State Park. This area hosts an incredible array of birdlife due to its exceptionally diverse habitat. There are 220 species that occur, with 110 breeding at the site. The habitat types include: large tracts of unfragmented forest (that attract forest-interior neotropical migrants); forested wetlands with many small beaver ponds; laurel thickets; riparian forest; unspoiled emergent and shrub wetlands; native grassland and old-field habitat; and a 160-acre lake. The lake attracts migrating waterfowl in the spring. In the forest interior look for the brilliantly colored Scarlet Tanager. The male Tanager is a beautiful, rich scarlet-colored bird with black wings and tail. The female of the species is an olive shade with gray wings.

The Stone Valley Recreational Area is located across the 70-acre Lake Perez from Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Both areas present opportunities to view spring and fall waterfowl and passerine migration species. The tall white pines of the Stone Valley Recreation Area attract Pine Warblers in the spring and summer. At the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, visitors find plenty of bird watching opportunities as well as many public programs to take part in. The environmental center also allows for a close up look at many raptor species living there due to injuries too serious to allow for their release. Hiking trails abound and meander through habitats such as hemlock riparian areas, hardwood forest, and open meadows.

The Raystown Lake area also offers some unique birding opportunities. Two active eagle nests provide sighting opportunities all around the lake, with the best spot appearing to be just downstream of the Raystown Dam. This area is fairly reliable for catching a glimpse of the magnificent birds, as they are usually found perched across the river. The Fouses Crossing wetland site has access restrictions for waterfowl propagation between March 15 and August 15 but provides some unique spring and summer birding opportunities. Newly created wetlands along agricultural and moist soil habitat provide great spots to view wading birds such as Herons and Egrets, along with various waterfowl in the spring. The lake also provides winter and early spring viewing opportunities for a variety of waterfowl that utilize the lake as a resting spot during migration. This site is a waterfowl enthusiast’s dream with many species present at one time or another. Common species such as Ring-necked Ducks and Common Mergansers to the not-so-common Black Scoter and Ring-necked Grebe can be seen. One good vantage point is a large cove just south of the Seven Points Recreation Area, that can be accessed from various campground roads. Additionally, the warmer discharge waters of the dam and the dense riparian cover of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River make the four-mile stretch between the dam and the Point Access a great area for winter bird viewing. Recent hacking programs to reintroduce Osprey at Raystown make them a common, late summer find in the James Creek area of the lake. The many trails at Raystown Lake also provide great opportunities for viewing breeding birds in a variety of habitats. Maps of the trails are available at the Raystown Lake Visitors Center.

If the raptor is your bird of choice, then the Jo Hays Vista is the site for you. This IBA is located over 2,000 feet above sea level atop the Tussey Mountain Ridge. The hawkwatch  is known for its high numbers of spring migrating Golden Eagles (more are seen at this site than any other east of the Rocky Mountains), which peaks in the first three weeks of March. Counts of up to 150 annually have been recorded. Along with Golden Eagles, spring counts of up to 6,500 from 15 other species of diurnal raptors have been recorded at the site. Good numbers also can be seen during fall migration. The surrounding area provides good habitat for many breeding birds. Due to the lack of fragmentation throughout the ridge, many forest-interior species are found here. Some representatives include the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, several warblers, and the Scarlet Tanager.

These are just a few of the birding opportunities in Raystown Lake Region. Explore www.pabirdingtrails.org for more information on these and other birding sites in the area. To learn more about birding, contact the local Juniata Valley Audubon Society Chapter. Other interesting information can be obtained by checking out the following websites:

http://www.scbirdcl.org/

http://www.shaverscreek.org

http://www.birding.com/wheretobird/pennsylvania.asp

 

Categories: 2005 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Raystown Natural Resources – the foundation of your Raystown Region Experience

by Jeff Krause

Common sights at Raystown Lake include fishermen trolling for stripers, bikers on the Allegrippis trails, sun bathers on the beach and campers sitting by the fire ring.  These recreational activities are shared among the 1.5 million visitors each year who travel to Raystown to escape their busy lives.  Although not often mentioned, there is one common bond between all these recreational activities – the beauty and diverse natural resources that make the Raystown Region special.   After all, would visitors still come if the green forest mountains and clear, fish filled waters were replaced with paved parking lots and unclean, unfishable waters.  We must remember that our natural resources are the foundation for the outdoor recreational experiences we enjoy so much.

Some of the unique offerings at Raystown include a world class two story fishery that provides common warm water fish such as black bass and walleye while also offering trophy size striped bass and lake trout.   Hundreds of annual fishing tournaments and the PA state record striped bass are testaments to the great fishery created by clean water.

The availability of fish have also made Bald eagles common place at Raystown and may be considered the favorite for wildlife viewing.  Numerous nesting locations have produced almost 60 young nestlings in the past 13 years and hot spots below the dam and near the Entriken bridges are good viewing locations from December through March.

The rock outcrops common at Raystown contain important shale barren habitat and great natural beauty.  These barrens which can exceed 100 degrees in early April provide a rare environment that host both plant and animals that only inhabit the extreme conditions.  Observing the evening primrose’s yellow bloom close to the water’s edge is one offering of this unique habitat.

The most dominant natural feature of Raystown is the nearly 18,000 acres of forest land surrounding the lake providing a landscape of mountains, valleys and ridges that surrounds the lake.  The plant and wildlife resources utilizing the adjacent forest and habitat include over 20 species of concern such as the bald eagle, osprey, several species of bats, golden -winged warblers and cerulean warblers.     Visitors may also see a river otter sliding down a bank, a fisher searching for food, a fence lizard scurry down a tree or one of the American chesntut seedlings attempting to re-establish itself from a century of blight.

When you pause to allow your adrenaline levels to drop after that adventure on the Allegrippis,  catching air under your personal watercraft or a ride on the zip lines, take a look around and take note of the supporting natural beauty of the Raystown Region that adds that breathtaking landscape to your experience.

About the Author
Jeff Krause is a Wildlife Biologist in his 19th year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has spent the past 15 at Raystown Lake.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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