Wildlands Conservatory of Lehigh Valley
Video released on: October 30, 2013
George Wacker: Hello and welcome to this edition of Lehigh High Valley visions. Today we are in Emmaus, PA at the Wildlands Conservancy. We are going to take a look at some of their educational programs, take a walk on some of their trails, visit with some of their rescued animals and even get in a canoe and go down the Lehigh River. So lets get to it.
The Wildlands Conservancy’s roots stem from 1973, when Robert, “Bob” Rodale, a local champion of organic farming, and then chairman and chief of Rodale press, began the land protection organization based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1975, Air Products founder Leonard Parker Pool gave his 72 acre wildlife sanctuary to the conservancy to preserve it.
The Wildlands mission is to protect and restore critical natural areas and waterways and educate the community to create a legacy of a healthy, sustainable environment for future generations.
We are here now in one of the bird enclosures with a barred owl. And we are going to have Denise, who is a head naturalist here, tell us a little bit about the owl and about his cool eyes.
Denise Bauer: Those are his third eyelids, there are known as nictitating membrane and they are actually kind of like sunglasses. They’ll protect his eyes from wind, they’ll protect his eyes from bright sunshine and they are also kind of like a windshield wiper. They keep his eyes moist, they keep his eyes from freezing in the wintertime. And they also protect his eyes from bugs.
George Wacker: That’s really interesting.
George Wacker: The Wildlands is home to many animals that were rescued, unable to return to nature or purchased for educational purposes. Unlike a zoo, these animals are generally not on display for the public and for educational groups only.
George Wacker: How do you use an animal like this in terms of educating people who come through here?
Denise Bauer: The idea is to get people close to these animals, to get them to feel respect for these animals. To make them familiar with these animals. To remove the fear of these animals. Which makes them more likely to treat them kindly, with respect and to have the desire to protect them and their habitat.
George Wacker: The Wildlands conducts programs for more than 14,000 children, grades K-12 each year. Ranging from assemblies with their wildlife education animals to group specific field trips and after school enrichment. And it has multiple preserves in addition to its Pool wildlife sanctuary headquartes in Emmaus.
George Wacker: We are here now in the floodplain trail which is one of many trials and Wildlands Conservancy. And we here with Megan Sciarrino with Wildlands. And can you tell us a little bit about this boardwalk trail? Its pretty unique.
Megan Sciarrino: It is definitely unique. And the boardwalk is actually very necessary because this is our floodplain trail and without the boardwalk, people couldn’t come here and enjoy it the way that they love to.
Megan Sciarrino: On any given day you will see families coming with their children, people walking their dogs and its a really, really wonderful way to immerse yourself in nature locally. It is adjacent to the little Lehigh Creek, so wherever there is water, there is birds, so there is going to be a lot of bird sounds in the woods here, there is a lot of towering trees, and you don’t even know you are stones throw away from, say, Cedar Crest boulevard or some of the main arteries of Lehigh Valley.
George Wacker: And speaking of the Lehigh river, its about time for me to get suited up. Because we are going to take one of the Wildlands canoe trips down the Lehigh and around some of the islands there and we are going to learn a lot and have a lot of fun. Let’s go.
George Wacker: Over the past decade, the Wildlands Conservancy’s sought-after bike and boat adventures program has hosted more than 30,000 participants. Young and old, seasoned and not. For a get outdoors experience unlike any other.
George Wacker: Now Rod, can you tell us about what we are going to see today along the tour and what it’s all about?
Rod Honszny: Well, we are going to go upstream a little bit and go around two islands, Turkey Island and then at Island Park, we are going to hope to go into a lagoon that is supposedly about 100 acres and used to house an amusement park that closed years ago. See if we see any remnants of that and see how its come back from what it was to now its just a nature spot.
George Wacker: Alright. Well, without further ado, lets get on the canoes.
George Wacker: Along the way, we saw different types of birds that our guides were able point out to us. We were also able to explore Island Park and go inside an area affectionately known as “the gut”. This area is the site of the former amusement park which nature has reclaimed.
One of Wildlands Conservancy’s largest events is the Lehigh river sojourn. The event is Wildlands Conservancy’s 28 mile guided paddling trip on the Lehigh river. The event begins in the Pocono Mountains and ends in Lehigh Valley. Sojourners travel through our regions metro wilderness, treasuring scenic views, visits from resident wildlife and a shared appreciation for preserving the Lehigh river.
Thanks for coming with us on our trip to the Wildlands Conservancy. We trust you’ve learned a little bit more about what this great organization has to offer and we hope it has inspired you to get out in the trails or out in the water. We’ll see you there.