ForEvergreen Nature Preserve
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- Activities include walking, running, photography, catch-and-release fly fishing with license. A bald eagle’s nest perches in a tree close to the property.
- Leashed dogs welcome when owners clean up after their pets.
- Ample parking. Portapotty.
- Rain garden, pond, wetlands. Informative signage about wild trout.
- The Brodhead Creek Heritage Center is on the preserve, which includes a local nature museum. For information about the center, click here.
- For a feature on ForEvergreen by naturalist Rick Koval, click here.
An eye for eagles at ForEvergreen Nature Preserve
By Carol Hillestad
I’ve walked this loop countless times. It’s barely a mile, the gravel paths are wide, and the terrain is gentle. You can see the shape of the golf course that used to occupy this land. The views are pastoral and lovely but not jaw-dropping.
And then you see the eagles.
The American bald eagle has staged a glorious comeback since the 1970s, when there were only two nesting pairs in all of Pennsylvania. Then the toxic chemicals that made eagle eggs so fragile they broke before hatching were banned. Today, dozens of nesting pairs are known in Monroe County alone.
ForEvergreen’s pair has been here for about five years. Photographers spend hours here, long lenses at the ready. Walkers, runners and dog walkers often stop in their tracks to watch an eagle tending the nest, hanging out on a nearby snag, or perching at the top of the cell tower.
Yet eagles in the spring are only the most obvious joy of this place. In summer, you might see flights of bluebirds, stocky kingfishers diving for an aquatic meal, or turtles sunning themselves on logs in the pond. In fall, the large stand of milkweed is one of the best sites in Monroe County for Monarch butterflies. Acres of meadow plants left unmowed provide food and cover for juncos, titmice and cardinals in winter.
For trout fishers, ForEvergreen has special meaning. Brodhead Creek forms one long border of the preserve. Careful research by local trout experts has shown that this very stretch of the Brodhead is where trout fishing in America began. Catch-and-release fishing draws anglers throughout the season.
When leaders of Stroud Township bought the old golf course, they committed to allowing the land to return to its natural state. The paths are neatly maintained, but no longer is the land mowed right to the edge of the creek, or saturated with fertilizer and pesticides.
Allowing grasses, shrubs and trees to grow along the streambank helps slow runoff after heavy rains, preventing pollution and erosion. Eliminating chemicals on the land keeps them out of the water — which becomes drinking water for thousands of neighbors downstream. The best and cheapest “treatment” for water is to keep it pure from the start!
A picturesque new building has replaced the old golf clubhouse. It houses two of the oldest environmental defenders in the county — Brodhead Watershed Association and Pocono Heritage Land Trust. A rain garden receives runoff from the building’s roof. Planted with native shrubs and wildflowers, the rain garden allows rain to infiltrate the soil slowly. A signboard explains how it works, and how homeowners can include this “green infrastructure” in their own gardens.
No matter how often I walk here among tall white pines and along the bank of the creek, nature shows me something new every time. More often than not, I learn something about myself, too. One thing’s for sure — the sight of a soaring eagle will always make my heart leap.
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