STREAMLINES: News and events from BWA
What happens in the woods at Mount Wismer
Maybe it’s the low, end-of-year light, but on the trail to Mount Wismer, I seem to feel forest life settling down all around me. Black bears denning up, sows soon to birth young. White-tailed deer snuffling the leaf litter for acorns and beechnuts. Coyote and foxes, fishers and otters, rabbits, mice, and voles — do they smell snow coming? The cold-blooded creatures are still.

The sense of connectedness to the natural world is strong here. It’s quiet. The only sounds are the crunch of boots, rustle of leaves, and sighing breezes among bare branches.

And then I hear voices.

To read more about Carol Hillestad’s day on Mount Wismer and the vital role the place plays in climate change, click here.

To see a video by Matt Trezza (Instagram @tv_mattt) of Carol’s hike on Mount Wismer, click here.
Climate change in the Poconos 'not trivial'
The Pocono Record recently asked BWA to participate in a “group editorial” on climate change in the Poconos. BWA Board President Mike Stein and Executive Director Alex Jackson responded, along with other community members.

Click here and look for the section “The threat of climate change on our area is not trivial” to read Mike and Alex’s contribution.
Illegal fill is still finding its way to building lots in Monroe County, keeping watchdog agencies on the alert.

The county Conservation District Board discussed two such sites during its November meeting. Both building sites were in Penn Estates, in Stroud Township, and on both building sites the illegal fill came from New Jersey. Also on both sites, the fill was used to level a steep slope, but there were no safeguards in place to make sure the fill stayed in place. Loose fill can make its way to streams and creeks, polluting the water and endangering fish and other aquatic life.

“One site is our usual ‘bad actor,’” resource conservation Specialist John Motts told the board. “The other is a new guy.”

To read more about this and other issues discussed at the November MCCD board meeting and reported by BWA board member by Paula Heeschen, click here.
Where exactly is the Pocono Plateau?

The southern front of the glaciated Pocono Plateau escarpment begins at the Pohopoco Mountains in Carbon County. This escarpment proceeds northeast up to Big Pocono State Park, over to Mount Wismer and eventually tapers off near Promised Land State Park in Pike County.

In the west, the plateau borders along the Lehigh Gorge, which it follows over to the Wyoming Valley. But the Moosic Mountains cut off the Poconos near Wilkes-Barre. So it’s a pretty interesting topographic feature to pin down – some debate exists (map shows one interpretation).

The name Pocono is derived from the Munsee word pokawachne, which means “creek between two hills.” Which creek? Likely the Lehigh and Tobyhanna, with their headwaters in the interminable peat bogs and fens in northwestern Monroe County and beyond.

Brodhead Creek (formerly called Analomink) on the other hand, originates atop the northeastern/eastern plateau. The tributaries generally do not penetrate the plateau itself more than a few miles. 
– Alex Jackson

Do you have a question about the Brodhead watershed? Email it to BWA Executive Director Alex Jackson at Your question may be answered in a future newsletter.
Don't decorate with beautiful, tree-killing oriental bittersweet

It’s awfully tempting to cut this colorful weed and use it in holiday decorations. That’s one way the berries of this tree-killing vine are transported to new locations. Resist the urge!

The vigorous and aggressive twining vine of oriental bittersweet can girdle a tree, choke off its nutrients, and kill the tree in just a few years. If you have bittersweet growing on your property, make a note of the location. Then, in spring, well before the plant sets fruit, go to for details on how to eradicate it.

For information on other invasives in the Poconos and how to eradicate them, click here.
Have you heard about BWA’s Annual Appeal? This year-end fundraiser is happening now, and we need your help!

Our ability to protect water relies on members like you. Because even with grants and hours of volunteer work, we still must raise $70,000 each year to fulfill our mission.

Your support makes this foundational work possible. Every gift you give stays right here, in the watershed, working to keep our drinking water safe — for all of us, for fish and wildlife, and for generations to come.
And there’s a bonus! If you are among the first 20 donors to contribute $100 or more, you will receive a set of four BWA cork coasters – the perfect place to hold your glass of clear, cool water.
Looking for a great gift for your favorite environmentalist? BWA has an online apparel shop – a special way to support BWA’s clean water mission. Click the button to see our shirts, hoodies and tank tops in a variety of colors and styles, for adults and children.
As the year draws to close, we’d like to thank our Perennial Club members who have been contributing steadily all year long. Their monthly donations keep BWA strong in the fight for clean water. Our much-appreciated Perennial Club members are:

  • Jillian DePete-McMahon
  • Frances Ferrari
  • Ann Foster
  • Delaney & Amy Henasey
  • Jim & Carol Hillestad
  • Colleen Jamison
  • Chris & Theresa Merli
  • Joan Merli
  • Rob & Sally Sedwin
  • John Smith
  • Eleanor & Douglas Taylor
  • Brenda Wilkins
  • Julie Wynne

Perennial Club is a time-saving way to keep your membership current through automatic, online donations. For information, click here.
Pocono Heritage Land Trust will hold a volunteer day on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, at Pomeroy Nature Preserve, 675 Hickory Valley Road, Stroudsburg. From 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers will assist in removing autumn olive near the meadow. This will involve cutting large autumn olive with a chainsaw, so bring ear protection if desired. PHLT will have disposable ear plugs available as well.

To sign up for this or other volunteer days on PHLT preserves, click here.
Alex Jackson
BWA executive director
Surviving and thriving in winter
As we enter winter, our native wildlife use three general strategies to survive long enough to greet us in spring: hibernation, migration, or resistance/foraging.

Hibernation strategies differ. Insects tend to enter diapause (a period of suspended development), while mammals use brown fat and muscles to shiver and generate heat. Reptiles, amphibians, and fish hunker down, and some pump natural antifreeze into their blood.

While migrants temporarily abandon the Poconos for warmer climes, foragers – such as deer, rabbits, coyotes, otters, and bobcats – tend to “stick it out.” They often rely on the microhabitat of hemlock forests, bogs and fens for protective cover.

In such ecosystems, some of these hemlocks and black gum trees are more than 600 years old. If these old trees could talk, they may tell tales of elk, packs of wolves, wolverine, and mountain lions also seeking shelter under their graceful limbs.

While the wild animals wait for warmer weather, we lucky humans can better appreciate the beauty of the colder months. While you’re out and about, take some photos of our watershed’s natural wonderland and keep them handy for our winter photography contest, coming in January!