Nicodemus Wilderness Project
Nicodemus Wilderness Project
About Us Projects Education Links Volunteers Membership  
Nicodemus Wilderness Project


NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Fercliff Hill, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

« ++ ·
· ++ »

Fercliff Hill, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA


Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: Bloomsburg
Posts: 1
View this Member's Photo Gallery

I found the Nicodemus Wilderness Project while browsing a volunteer search engine. The site inspired me to solve a problem, myself, when I didn’t think that I could.

I live in the outskirts of a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I was raised here by my mother and grandmother, who are both widowed. My mother and I have relocated a few times in in the past, but have returned to care for my grandmother, as she is 77 years old and her daily routine and property maintenance have become unmanageable. My grandmother bought this house and land in 1973. It is located at the top of a hill, called Ferncliff Hill. At the bottom of the hill runs Fishing Creek. Growing up, I remember those hot, summer days, when we’d go down to the creek to swim in its cool clear, refreshing water. Nowadays, I routinely jog along its side.

There are several very important reasons that I respect this creek. The needs of Bloomsburg Water Company are supplied by Fishing Creek. It is considered a Cold Water Fishery by the Department of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, about 12 miles upstream, the folks of of Benton, PA, boast of the best fly-fishing strip for miles around. This creek empties into the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, about a mile beyond my grandmother’s house. Fishing Creek and the Susquehanna River are both part of the Cheasapeake Bay Watershed. Fishing Creek has its own watershed. It is the central artery of a 450 square mile watershed region. The Fishing Creek Watershed Association was formed to preserve this creek in its current state. Its objectives are to reduce soil erosion, reduce flood damage, restore wildlife, protect recreation areas of great natural beauty, eliminate all stream pollution, and improve the habitat of the streams within the watershed.

Identifying the Problem

My grandmother’s property is much lower than the public road, and also much lower than the the neighbors’ properties. Therefore, a bank was created at the top of her yard to guide the storm-water into the drainage system. However; in 1997, our township hired a company to install a public sewer system. While installing the main line for the residents on the avenue, the bank was inadvertently removed. Also, the top of the driveway was cut to install a gas line. When the road was reinstalled, it was not replaced at an angle that would ensure proper sheet flow drainage. Since this day, water runoff has poured onto her property, and down the hill during rain events. It carries with it, stone, gravel, and dirt sediment along with invasive plant species from the uncultivated farm fields above. The storm water erodes the soil, and has done significant damage to the road, her driveway, and her basement. The township’s storm water drainage system remains useless on this avenue, as no water flows into or through it’s drainage ditches.

Envisioning the Solution

I believe that I can help my grandmother, my neighborhood, and my township by implementing the best management practice based on my ability. This kind of solution I chose is termed a “Soft” Engineering Strategy because it is a method that uses site design techniques, rather than using hard engineered structures. I have chosen to plant a row of twenty trees along the lowest part of our yard, where a trench has formed from rainwater coursing through the yard. The main priority of planting the trees is to create a buffer, by which the sheet flow from a rain event will be absorbed. The row of tress, acting as a buffer will reduce the velocity of the water runoff and provide a chance for most of it to permeate back into the ground.

Taking Action

After envisioning myself taking on this project, every element immediately fell into place. My mother recommended a friend who owns a beautiful farm in Union County. He was wholeheartedly agreeable in allowing me to obtain as many trees as I could find in his fields. Eastern Red Cedar trees were selected for their beauty and for their effectiveness as a storm water buffer. According to my research, each tree absorbs one gallon of water everyday, for every foot of its height. Most importantly, the cedar trees were selected because they are a native species to Pennsylvania. Native species are important because they do not interrupt the food web of the area. Many native species of birds can be seen from my window daily, throughout the year. These trees may provide shelter for these non-migratory birds, such as cardinals and chickadees.

Upon my first arrival to the fields, I was taken aback by the natural beauty of my surroundings. There was not a trace of development for as far as I could see— only the dirt trail, fields, and the purple mountains of Union County. I stepped out into the waste high weeds and began my search for the violet-green tips of cedar trees, with the help of my my mother, my friend, and my dog. When we spotted the first tree, I immediately identified the eastern side of the tree and tied a yellow ribbon onto one of its branches. Based on my research I knew that the eastern side of the tree is where the taproot grows. It had to be marked to ensure that it would be planted, facing the same direction. I was careful while digging around this side of the tree, to ensure no damage would be done to the taproot.

I made four subsequent trips to the fields, obtaining a total of 21 trees, which ranged in size from about 1 to 3 feet. The farmer instructed me to plant the trees at least five feet apart from one another, to provide the roots with enough room to grow. I followed his instruction which resulted in a beautiful hedge of 20 cedar trees. I gave my last tree to a friend of the family. Her name is Sunshine and she lives in a highly developed area of the Pocono Mountains. She was ever so delighted. I felt that I had passed on an important gift. Not just a tree, but the spark ignited by such a great idea— the idea of restoring Mother Earth, one contribution at a time! Sharing the spark, I think, was just as important as planting the trees.

Benefits to the Community and the Environment

Since the trees have been planted, no evidence of storm-water can be seen on the eastern side of the house. This project has relived the Ferncliff Hill of a large contributor to its erosion. The Fishing Creek, Susquehanna River, and Chesapeake Bay now have one less source of sediment. The neighborhood, the township, and my grandmother will has one less problem to solve. The cedar trees I have planted will help to bring an end to Global Warming by reducing greenhouse gasses, and improving air quality by producing oxygen. The birds will have another place to nest on Ferncliff Hill.


Growing up in a beautiful agricultural area has shown me the genuine beauty and value of our natural resources, as many have become scarce and denatured during my lifetime. I plan to attend college at Bloomsburg University to study the field of Biology, with an emphasis on Environmental Conservation. I’m grateful to have found the Nicodemus Wilderness Project. Completing this project successfully, has enriched my life in so many ways. It has given me an indescribable feeling of accomplishment, duty, and resilience. It has truly been a foundational experience for me. It has inspired me to follow through by taking action within the environment, while studying through college. I have also gained the courage to become involved with the environmental conservation efforts in my community. I have attained a great sense of dedication to a cause of major importance and I am absolutely thrilled to share with my friends the motivation of renewing our planet. A few of them look up to me, and to my surprise, this project has attracted their interest. I always knew that helping to solve problems was intrinsically rewarding, but I now know the moving feeling of doing something good for the planet and for humanity. It has helped me to really see how my and everyone’s actions can help lead an entire generation toward a beautiful new Earth. Thank You, Nicodemus Wilderness Project, for this experience!
Date: December 30, 2009 Views: 7333 File size: 20.0kb : 256 x 341
Hours Volunteered: 82.5
Volunteers: 7
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 20 & 20 to 77
Native Trees Planted: 20
Print View