On and Off The Mountain - Stephanie Grubert

We are into the first week in May and skies are cloudy, rain is keeping the earth moist and the Gypsy Moths have hatched. The current weather conditions are not a bad thing. Gypsy Moth Caterpillars cannot survive cool rainy spring weather after they hatch. Gypsy moth control is often aided by naturally occurring events. A cool damp May will produce 2 diseases (a virus and a fungus) will help keep the gypsy moth in check. The voracious leaf defoliators could be on their way out at this moment. In 2015 Luzerne County had perfect gypsy moth habitat with warm dry windy spring days. Not so this far this season.

I talked with David J. Gustafson, Chief, Forestry Division, and Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management Pennsylvania Game Commission last week that was optimistic about the natural remedy this year in Pennsylvania. “The Gypsy Moth cycle is every 8 to 12 years,” Gustafson said. “ They are here to stay. Even when we spray we don’t get them all.”

When I talked to the Forestry Chief on Friday we talked about the weather. A week or more of damp rainy weather just about now would go a long way to producing the virus and fungus that the Gypsy Moth caterpillars cannot survive.

So when you wake up and look out a day of doom and gloom, pray for the conditions to set the Gypsy Moth caterpillars to their demise. A few days of rain and damp for us is a potent antidote to the Gypsy Moth deforestation on the horizon.

Mountaintop is not on the Pennsylvania State Gamelands Gypsy Moth Spraying list this year. The Pennsylvania Game Commission will spray for gypsy moths on more than 32,414 acres of state game lands (SGL) this spring, or 36% of the total defoliated acres. SGL 207 is 2,057 acres in Rice, Fairview and Hanover Townships. In Luzerne County only 698 acres in SGL 260 near Shickshinny will be sprayed. The 2,057 acres in Mountain Top are far down the list, 14th of 22 affected Gamelands with higher concentrations of egg masses and therefore potential devastation for 2016.

Chief Gustafson told me that while the State Forests and DCNR are funded by the state budget and tax money, the State Game Lands and PGC receive NO appropriation from the General Fund, and NO state tax dollars.

“The PGC is funded primarily from hunting license revenue, sale of natural resources from State Game Lands (timber, coal, gas/oil,) and an apportionment of money from the Pittman-Robertson (PR) federal wildlife restoration act, which is an excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition,” he explains.

Gustafson continues, “Our current funding crisis in the PGC can be directly attributed to the fact that we have not been granted a license fee increase by the Legislature since 1999. As you might imagine, trying to function on the same fee structure for 17 years has become quite difficult.”

Both the PGC and DCNR have missions to keep trees healthy for the wildlife habitat and for public accessibility and enjoyment. We must pray that nature keeps up the rain and cold for another week.

Crestwood SB The Crestwood School Board

appointed Al Miller to fill the seat vacated by the death of Ken Malkemes. The board voted at a special meeting Wednesday April 27. Miller had run for a seat on the board in November 2015.

Appointing a person who had shown interest in the board by running was a positive decision. The timing was confusing. The Crestwood website listed the meeting date and time for Thursday April 28. The public managed to attend despite the confusing public notice.

The board has a second seat to fill. Norb Dotzel resigned to fill an open seat on the Slocum Board of Supervisors. Veteran 28-year supervisor Jim George died late last month.

Public service on local boards is important and necessary. The key word is “service” to the public good.

Gardens & Outdoors My garden preparation is far

from ready for the seeds and plants. I am hoping my garden tiller will be on the job in the next week or so. It is too cold for seeds. It is really too cold to enjoy time spent in the yard and the garden.

Charlie bought me dozens of seed packets, two, three and as many as six varieties of the same plant family. I have enough seeds for a few gardens. Meanwhile, the weeds that grow before the tilling are rich and green. I pray that my tiller will plow them under for some green soil rejuvenation.

Inside I am tackling the annual purging of the drawers and closets of clothes that no longer fit, are old and limp, or in need of some recycling on eBay. I do the eBay selling for a few months of the year. It is actually late for the spring summer offerings. I can’t bear to part with perfectly good items that I just didn’t get around to enjoying. Some I bought on sale with no real need, and others are new and in perfect condition but don’t fit. I take the best of the lot and decide whether a trip to the seamstress will put my lovelies back in the rotation or I put them up for sale on eBay.

Writing up the descriptions, taking photos, and measuring the items for possible sale is time consuming but it is a challenge and I want to send along my favorites to someone who will appreciate and enjoy them. It is a pleasant way of enjoying a rainy day inside.

Every time I was ready to go out the door for a walk on Sunday the rain showers started again and I stayed inside tackling my house chores. By Monday morning my stiffened limbs were crying for exercise. I found a heavy duty rain jacket and rain pants in my stash and set out to rack up my steps and miles for the day. There was no more rain for the 1.5 hours I climbed my mountain hill and back. I’d rather have the Gypsy Moths die of damp conditions than walk in the sunshine. That too will come.