By Bailey Kozalla, Watershed Specialist
With the start of the winter season, much of the landscape throughout Northwest Pennsylvania has lost most of its color. Despite this, glimpses of glossy green leaves and red berries are often seen scattering the bottomlands, a signature of the holiday season.
The American Holly (Ilex opaca) is easily identified in the winter months against the contrast of a snowy scene. Inhabiting the understory of forests in moist soils, the tree normally grows between 15 to 25 feet tall but can reach heights of 60 feet. Its stout, stiff branches equipped with spine-tipped leaves is considered the hardiest broadleaf evergreen by many. Female plants possess its notable red berries which are an invaluable food source for wildlife species (but are poisonous to humans).
The tree's beauty and hardiness makes it a desirable native ornamental. There are over 1,000 native and non-native varieties of the species - before planting, make sure to check with a nursery to ensure you are receiving a native American Holly.
By Jake Cochran, DGLVR Technician
The Dirt, Gravel & Low Volume Road program is predicated on the concept of “local control." At the district level, this is achieved through the recommendations of the Quality Assurance Board (QAB). The QAB is a four-member “steering committee” that makes recommendations to the district board on project funding and local policies. This four-person body is comprised of a nonvoting chairman appointed by the conservation district directors, and one local representative appointed by each of the following entities: The federal Natural Resource Conservation Service, The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the county conservation district. The PFBC or NRCS may appoint members who are not necessarily a PFBC or NRCS employee to the QAB to serve as that agency’s representative. Local conservation agencies such as Trout Unlimited may be a potential source of QAB volunteers. These members assist the district with the establishment of local control and program requirements including but not limited to: fiscal, environmental, and written priorities, training incentives, and site inspections. The QAB’s recommendations are relayed to the conservation district board and action is taken on project approval and spending. The public is welcome to attend QAB meetings. The date, time, and location of these meetings are posted in advance on the district’s website and as a public notice in the local newspaper.
The Venango Dirt, Gravel & Low Volume Road Program QAB held a meeting on December 6, 2023 at 11:00 AM at the Venango Conservation District. The recommendations from this meeting were given to the Venango Conservation District's board of directors on December 14 at their monthly board meeting. The Venango Conservation District board of directors has approved funding for the following projects for the 2023-2024 DGLVR season:
Dirt and Gravel Road Projects
Canal Township – Wood Road - $95,877.00
Oakland Township – Gifford Road - $147,430.96
Pinegrove Township – Hale Road - $197,720.00
Irwin Township – Kerr Road - $80,000.00
Low Volume Road Projects
Irwin Township - Whieldon Road - $23,700.00