Many Bellwood-Antis residents have been wondering if the pool will open this summer. John Frederick, Antis Township recreation and environmental director, said, “We’re fully expecting to open the pool this summer. We are more optimistic about the pool than anything else we are involved in, not only because of our optimism about vaccinations, but also because COVID does not do well in chlorinated environments like pools. That said, we’re still going to have to exercise some caution and follow CDC directives on number of users and such.”
Anyone walking the Bells Gap Trail in recent weeks has probably noticed the piles of cut and pulled trees, shrubs, and plants alongside the trail. This work is a result of Interfaith Power and Light, a non-profit organization dedicated to building faith-based solutions to climate change and other environmental challenges (interfaithpowerandlight.org).
One of the organization’s 38 state chapters is headquartered in Central Pennsylvania and has been active in local initiatives in Blair, Huntingdon and Centre counties. Most recently, they have coordinated volunteers to remove invasive plants and replace them with native trees and shrubs on local parklands.
Specific to the work on the Bells Gap Trail, Frederick reports, “They have embarked upon an initiative to replace non-native invasive plants like privet, multiflora rose, honeysuckle, and the Tree of Heaven with native trees and plants such as red oak, black cherry, red maple, arrowwood, ninebark, and gray dogwood. The non-native plants came from other parts of the world and were either brought here accidentally or on purpose over the last 300 years.
The organization’s environmental initiatives are based on their belief that “people of faith, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Ba’hai and people of conscience, have a responsibility to care for God’s creation.”
Non-native invasive plants threaten less established native plants by taking over the main understory of forests, crowding out or shading the wildflowers and the native shrubs and saplings. This also reduces native insect populations and the birds that feed on them, reducing biodiversity in both woodland flora and fauna.
Tubes have been placed on the young trees. The trees and tubes are supplied by The Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The tubes protect young trees from animals.
Frederick is appreciative of the local volunteers who have provided considerable help with the trail as well as the native plant project – Greg Williams, Trevor Curry, Kyle Knepp, and members of Penn State Altoona’s Alpha Phi Delta fraternity.
Says Williams, “The work is fun, great exercise, a way to make a difference in the health of the trails we love, a way to work inter-generationally, and good for our mental health to get out and about in a safer way.”
In other news, Antis Township conducts a limb collection each spring with the following guidelines: 1) Leave the branches as long as possible and no bigger than four inches in diameter. 2) Branches should be piled on the roadside with the trunks facing the road. 3) Residents should transport trimmings from trees cut down, tree stumps, and hedge and shrub clippings to the compost site. The spring collection is intended for limbs that have fallen over the winter months.