Results of prescribed burn detailed by Nature Center
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Joren Husic sets up the Dobsonian telescope in hopes that there will be a window in the clouds for viewing, during picnic of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.
The educational center at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center was named after an osprey flew down the river when buying the land was being considered. On July 13 another osprey, namesake for the Osprey House, went up the river as members met for the annual picnic.
The program for the night was about the April prescribed burn on the mountain and the new introductory video. In addition, Joren Husic displayed the Dobsonian reflective mount telescope, but it was too cloudy for decent viewing, and Stephen Kloiber set up a black light to attract insects.
Director Dan Kunkle said grasses were planted that could grow in terrible conditions. But the gray birch was blocking the sunlight. In addition, the birch brings the metals up from the soil. The Environmental Protection Agency required that the birches be removed.
"We have to arrest secession of birch and butterfly bush, both of which take up the metals," said Kunkle.
During the prescribed burn, monitoring equipment was situated at various locations. One thing monitored was the contents of the smoke and the distance it traveled, but that information will not be available for several more months.
CBS, the responsible party for the superfund site, paid for the triangular area to be burned. Bowmanstown, Palmerton and East Penn fire companies were each given $1,000 in appreciation of their help. They were given special masks that cost $50 each.
Shannon Henry was the burn boss.
The fire was started on the east end. Test fires were set with a drip torch which used kerosene and gasoline. The fire burned slowly into the wind and created a clear back-burned area. After 1-1/2 hours the fire was set on the far end and it burned quickly with the wind behind it.
By May 1 the grasses began to grow and by June they were tall.
Kunkle was asked if there would be other burns. He said he didn't know because they don't have the results from this one. One determinant would be if the smoke proved toxic.
No wildlife was hurt. They walked the area to check.
Although the mountain was polluted as a result of zinc smelting, Kunkle is quick to say that there were no pollution controls available when the New Jersey Zinc Company built its plant in Palmerton.
The introductory video was put together by Lee Slivak, Kathy Romano and Donna Gasser, and tells the story in a 15-minute format of the nature center beginning with its founding.
Anita Collins said a nature art show will be held through Aug. 9, daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus 6-8 p.m. on the following evenings: July 30, 31 and Aug. 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
On Aug. 12 there will be a program about the Perseid Meteor Shower at 7:30 p.m.