July 2011 Township Meeting

Published before the July 11, 2011 Haycock Township meeting…

Effort under way to certify Haycock habitat


Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:15 pm, Mon Jul 4, 2011.
By Hilary Bentman

By all accounts, Haycock is a lush, wooded paradise. It’s quiet and quaint. There’s little traffic and even less development. The 20-square-mile township is home to Haycock Mountain, Lake Nockamixon and state game land, providing opportunities for hiking, sailing and enjoying the natural environment.

But not everything there is natural. Haycock is home to invasive plants threatening the ecosystem. Residents are using harmful pesticides and herbicides. And the bat and bee populations have been decimated by disease, pollution and other elements.

There’s a group of individuals hoping to combat these issues. And they are hoping to put Haycock on the map as the first community in the state to be certified as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat.“This little project … will have a positive impact on the community,” said Julie Fagan, a township resident and science professor who is leading the Haycock Community Wildlife Team.

She will make a formal presentation to the Haycock supervisors on July 11, asking for support. “I don’t see a reason we would oppose it,” said Supervisor Kathy Babb, adding the township can’t offer monetary assistance.

The community wildlife habitat program is designed to engage residents and make habitat preservation or restoration a priority. It targets individual backyards, public grounds, schools, businesses and other places. The goal is to provide wildlife with the food, water, cover and shelter they need.

To be certified, Haycock, based on its population, needs 250 points.Points are awarded for activities such as holding educational workshops, certifying homes and other areas as wildlife habitat sites, organizing a stream cleanup, running a native plant sale and working with local authorities to modify or establish new eco-friendly policies.“It’s going to take a concerted effort to get that many points,” said Fagan, who has certified her own backyard.

The Haycock group’s goals include removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native ones. The group wants to limit the use of pesticides and herbicides and stress the use of organic methods, such as weeding and natural fertilizers. The local bat population has been nearly wiped out due to white nose syndrome. The Haycock group is looking to place outdoor bat houses. The group also will address the declining honeybee population by stressing the need for native flowers and beekeeping.“Without (bees) they don’t pollinate the things that we eat,” said Fagan. “We’re finding this to be a real problem.”

Workshops will be held to educate residents, which is a key element. Through the certification process, residents are taught about sustainable gardening practices, the need to remove invasive species, eliminating the use of chemicals, and conserving water.“As I became more educated about local habitats and ecosystems, I was quite horrified at how many invasive plants have taken over,” said Gina Frederick, an ecological landscape designer and part of the wildlife team. Frederick says one of the biggest offenders is the common evergreen privet hedge. “It’s terribly invasive,” she said.

The group has established a blog for residents to chronicle the effort, upload videos and learn more about the program. Residents can log on to haycockwildlifehabitat.wordpress.com


Published after the July 11, 2011 meeting

Bucks County Herald


Haycock considers becoming a Community Wildlife Habitat

Diane Marczely Gimpel

A Haycock Township woman asked the supervisors at their July 11 meeting to back her plan to have the township designated a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat but the supervisors put off her request until they could gauge residents’ support for the idea. The National Wildlife Federation, based in Reston, Va., calls itself the nation’s largest conservation organization. It aims to protect and restore wildlife habitats and combat global warming, according to its web site at nwf.org. Supervisor Chairwoman Kathleen Babb said that before she would agree to send a letter of sup- port to the nonprofit organization for the community habitat designation, “I personally want to see some fairly strong response from the community.” To measure community support, the township will place information about the proposal in its monthly newsletter and ask residents to respond if they are interested in participating. Community involvement is required because at least 50 backyards in the township must be certified by the federation as backyard wildlife habitats for the township as a whole to get community certification. There are other requirements for community certification as well. Township resident Julie Fagan, who is behind the effort, offered the services of one of her Rutgers University students to help interested residents fill out the application to start the backyard habitat certification process. The application has a $20 fee but the student’s services do not. Residents can schedule appointments for July 17, 24 or 31 at goingreenpa@yahoo.com to get the process started. Among other things, the application asks applicants to show their yards have or will have food, water and cover so wildlife such as birds can live there and raise their young there. “We’ll have ideas,” said Lisa Giordano of Bellmawr, N.J., a biochemistry student in Fagan’s Ethics in Science and Society class who plans to help residents with the application process. “We could help. We could make it as easy as possible.” While individual residences will have individual goals for their backyard habitats, Fagan has established goals for Haycock Township as a whole, including saving declining bat and bee populations, removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants and limiting the use of environmental poisons. She has other goals, too. “The whole thing with Haycock doing this is that Haycock would be the first community in Pennsylvania to be established as a community habitat,” Fagan said, adding: “It could give the community something to be proud of.” Additionally, Fagan contended the project would bring the community together toward a common goal and foster environmental education and awareness. Fagan has information about the proposal on a blog at haycockwildlifehabitat.wordpress.com.


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