Susquehannock Wildlife Society Ends 2016 with a Celebration of Successful Wildlife Themed Programs, Starts Fundraiser for New Stargazing / Wildlife Viewing Platform
Susquehannock Wildlife Society (SWS) was busy this fall creating and implementing an exciting
series of programs aimed at educating the public about wildlife native to Harford County, while
attracting visitors and participants to experience and appreciate the incredible diversity of species
and habitats that are found here and are worth protecting. Thanks to the award of a generous
tourism grant from the Harford County Office of Economic Development this summer, SWS has
been able to fund a portion of its operations and programs. This includes bringing on its first
executive director – former president and co-founder Scott McDaniel – on a part-time basis to
focus on growth of the organization through marketing, events, educational outreach, as well as
continued renovations of the Susquehannock Wildlife Center, which is under construction. Aimed
at creating a unique experience where the public can gain a better understanding of its own
wildlife and local landscapes, the following programs were announced and implemented with
great success during the past three months:
Deer Creek Snorkeling
With expert guide Keith Williams at the helm, SWS and members of the community embarked on a quest to explore this state-designated scenic river as few have ever seen it. Deer Creek flows more than 50 miles before it reaches the Susquehanna River and its watershed covers 38 percent of Harford County’s land area; running through a mostly forested and agricultural landscape that also includes portions of York and Baltimore Counties. Despite a number of human disturbances that have added sedimentation to areas of the creek, in many places Deer Creek is still pristine. Because of that, the creek is home to a wide diversity of wildlife. But not all species have been able to withstand the changes. The endangered Maryland Darter, a fish found nowhere else in the world except for Deer Creek, may now be extinct. The goal of this program was to enter the seldom-seen world of tranquility below the riffles and discover that, even though perhaps no longer home to the Maryland Darter, these life-giving waters remain incredible habitat for many other beautiful and important species of local fish. Many of the species encountered during the snorkel were captured on underwater camera and, via a video produced by SWS, can now be shared with those who were unable to attend the program.
Movies in the Wild
From the earliest vision of its wildlife center, SWS sought to incorporate an outdoor movie amphitheater, where the community could come together for enjoyable and educational nights outside watching original SWS productions as well as other quality documentary nature films. Thanks to the assistance of funding from the Harford County tourism grant, the necessary projection and sound equipment was purchased to proceed with these exciting programs. The completion of an Eagle Scout project provided rows of bench seating to accommodate guests on the hillside next to the wildlife center building and helped create a unique, family-friendly experience unlike any other in the region.
To top it off, SWS received permission from Marty Stouffer, narrator and producer of the PBS series “Wild America,” to present his award-winning nature programs to the community during these events. With this exciting content available, two events were announced to the public; each showing three episodes of “Wild Aerica” handpicked for a cohesive theme.
The final showing of 2016 introduced a successful Halloween theme for its episodes and incorporated a costume contest for children, which brought families out into the wild with SWS to learn about species often misunderstood due to their nocturnal nature – bats, owls, and coyotes. The outdoor movie series will pick back up when the weather warms in spring of 2017.
Broad Creek Fall Colors Paddling Trip
In late October, the blue skies, glowing leaves, and delightfully warm air contributed to a well-attended and successful autumn foliage paddle on Broad Creek. SWS led a fantastic crew of wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and folks just looking for a relaxing day on the water, with participants coming from Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Cecil, and Harford County. The highlights of the trip including spotting four native turtle species – including the Maryland state endangered northern map turtle, a bald eagle, belted kingfisher, and perhaps most exciting, an eastern screech owl hiding in a tree cavity! SWS will resume its paddling programs and events in the spring.
#OptOutside Black Friday Hike & Campfire
SWS follows the movement of outdoor recreation company REI to #OptOutside each year on Black Friday to emphasize the importance of getting outside in nature, rather than standing in line shopping. This year, SWS welcomed an enthusiastic crowd of visitors to the site of the wildlife center (not yet open to the public) in Darlington just before sunset to hike a loop around the property, see the future location of its stargazing/wildlife viewing platform, and then settle in around the campfire to warm up. While enjoying hot cocoa and s’mores around the fire, visitors listen to owl calls and discussed future plans for the wildlife center, including lessons on native wildlife, as well as kicking off a new fundraising campaign to raise money for the construction of the stargazing/wildlife viewing platform. CLICK HERE for more information about the fundraiser.
Light and noise pollution become a major concern for many people seeking a life more connected to nature. In a place not far from home, only 40 miles from Baltimore you could soon be able to see a dark night sky full of stars while being surrounded by the enchanting sights and sounds of local wildlife. Located on a beautiful 20 acre protected wildlife area nestled between the Deer Creek and Susquehanna valleys in Harford County, Maryland, SWS hopes to do just that.
The Susquehannock Wildlife Center, a place SWS hopes will become a local epicenter for
wildlife education, conservation, rescue, and research, is currently under construction but they
have been actively completing key elements that provide unique wildlife and outdoor
experiences for the community. Riding the momentum of their recently unveiled and wildly
successful outdoor movie amphitheater earlier this fall they hope the stargazing and wildlife
viewing platform will unlock new opportunities for the public to see wildlife as well the
wonders of our earth and beyond, like never before.
The platform will be constructed using volunteer labor being provided by local contractors and
craftsmen so all they need is the funding to purchase the necessary materials to properly, and
safely, construct the platform. This platform will allow visitors to gather in a centralized place
with comfortable seating to sit back and view the night sky and all of the wildlife that calls the
wildlife center home. During the day the platform will allow birders, hikers, and wildlife
enthusiasts a place to rest, set up there spotting scopes, and view the property from a high
vantage point. They are reaching out to the community to consider donating to this project so
that it may become a reality.
SWS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting local wildlife through education,
rescue, conservation, and research. Donations to help its work and ensure the stargazing
platform becomes a reality are welcomed and encouraged! www.susquehannockwildlife.org