Bethlehem Events, Things to Do, Area GuideBethlehem Guide
Bethlehem Alive on Facebook
Charities, conservation, events, festivals, concerts, fairs, recognition
Community News
Press Releases
Our forests never sleep, even in winter!
11/18/2016

Autumn leaves are dropping; starting an inevitable timeless recycling process that enriches the soil. You might think that once the leaves have all dropped, that forests begin to wind down for a long winter snooze. 

But according to Dr. Emile DeVito, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s staff biologist, critical ecological processes and fascinating animal behaviors begin in the fall and continue right through winter. 

As Emile explains, falling leaves pile up on the forest floor. Water, molds, and other fungi combine to decompose the leaves, gaining energy from the tough lignin, which has the same chemical makeup as sugar and starch. 

On sunny warm days, invertebrates living in the rich organic layer of the soil begin shredding and chopping up the softened leaves. As pieces get smaller, even more critters attack. By early spring, many nutrients will be newly available to the root and fungal mats in the dark, rich organic humus – the soil layer beneath the leaf litter in our forests.

If you’re a hiker, you've likely encountered forest floors free of leaves and humus, but instead sprinkled with little dirt-like ball bearings. You are walking on mineral soil particles that have been scrubbed of organic material and compacted into worm poop! 

But most of the earthworms in our forests are non-native, invasive species. Unfortunately, European earthworms, and especially the recently-arrived Asian earthworms, break down leaf litter far too quickly, consume the nutrients, release carbon dioxide (CO2), and create ideal habitat for shallow-rooted invasive plants like garlic mustard and Japanese stilt grass. These plants also lower the natural acidity (raise the pH) of forest soils, encouraging more earthworms. 

Why does worm poop matter? One reason is that New Jersey’s growing season has lengthened due to global climate change. Today, on warm, sun-facing slopes, especially in forests growing on former agricultural land, there is enough time in the fall and early winter for earthworms to virtually eliminate the autumn leaf litter. Without leaf litter and with little or no snow to cover the soil, the tiny dirt balls of worm poop are exposed to powerful winter rains. Soil erosion can be extreme and result in heavy siltation in streams and waterways, even within our forests. 

Thankfully earthworms cannot get a strong foothold in the Pine Barrens. The pine and oak leaf litter decomposes very slowly due to sandy and acidic soils, and can get quite thick. 

By about Halloween, all of the rare snakes in Pine Barrens forests have made their way back to their winter dens. But these snakes do not retreat into their dens for a long winter slumber. They seek refuge well below the frost line in cold but unfrozen soil at a constant temperature of about 36 degrees. Timber rattlesnakes in the Pine Barrens hibernate in cold water near unfrozen, running forest springs.

Recent radio-tracking studies of these rare snakes reveal that they emerge to bask in the sun on warm winter days. This may help their immune responses in fighting minor bacterial and fungal infections. Sometimes they even switch winter dens, moving cross-country in the middle of winter. 

One massive adult male pine snake moved two-tenths of a mile in January. He may have followed the scent trail of a large, breeding age female that had gone that same way the previous September; this same male ended up following her very closely the next spring until breeding season arrived. 

On humid late fall and winter evenings with temperatures above freezing, watch for male “winter moths” flying in your car headlights! You won’t see females unless you hike through the forest and find them sitting on tree trunks, as they have tiny vestigial wings and cannot fly.  They simply emit their pheromones and wait for the flying males to catch their scent while on the wing.  

Late fall brings one last flowering shrub. Witch-hazel, a common forest shrub throughout north and central New Jersey, blooms in October and November. This year, mild weather may allow the delicate yellow, threadlike flower petals to still be visible on Black Friday! 

Watch for tiny flying insect pollinators that visit the witch-hazel, listen for the melancholy song of white-throated sparrows, and look for the many “winter finches” that migrate to New Jersey from the north to spend the winter here … in our forests that never sleep!

For more information about preserving New Jersey’s forests and other natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at  www.njconservation.org or contact me at  info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'

Keeping the 'great' in Paterson's Great Falls

Some good news!

Take action to defend and protect land and water

Interested in ecology? Become a Rutgers Environmental Steward

2016 wins and losses for New Jersey's land and water

Kick off a healthy New Year with First Day hike

Energy infrastructure: the new sprawl

Two great books for connecting kids with nature

Why do some trees stay green while others lose their leaves?

Melting ice, rising seas, hotter planet

Our forests never sleep, even in winter!

Documentary brings Great Swamp battle back to life

Defending the land they loved

Four years after Sandy, rising sea levels predicted

New Jersey: Small state, big diversity

10 great natural areas for enjoying fall colors

Removing obsolete dams brings rivers back to life

Humpback whales a welcome sight off NJ coast

NJ wine industry boosts agritourism

For good health, bathe in a forest!

Let's NOT make a deal!

New Jersey's spectacular waterfalls

Urban trees boost health and land values

Blue Acres: A win-win for open space, owners of flooded homes

Get mosquitos to buzz off - naturally!

Flawed pipeline approval process needs reforms

Speak out for our Atlantic Ocean and coast!

Help Pokemon Go lead into outdoors and nature

NJ 4th in peaches; don't miss out on peach season!

Water, water everywhere - keep it safe to drink!

Growing beer in the Garden State

Celebrate NJ's Revolutionary War parks and open spaces on July 4

Override Governor's veto of open space bill

Taming the wild blueberry 100 years ago

Celebrate and take action during National Pollinator Week

Get on the Circuit for National Trails Day

New tax deduction would give boost to NJ non-profits

Best nature movies

Call on Governor Christie to sign the open space bill!

Native seed bank may provide ash trees of the future

Urban farms bring healthy local foods

National Park Service turns 100

ARCHIVE

March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS

The Barn Nature Center offers tours, birthday parties, and events to the Bucks County Community. We offer a setting where children can learn about, pet, play with, and interact with a wide variety of animals, including reptiles, birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, and bugs! Where else can you hold a madagascar hissing cockroach, hand-feed parakeets and cockatiels, take a picture with an 11 ft snake, feed our 100 lb Sulcata Tortoise, or pet rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, or ferrets? We offer something for everybody! We offer daily tours to the public as well as larger events, including, but not limited to: birthday parties, field trips, school trips, Scouts events, etc.  We also have a rock climbing facility on-site that can be added to party packages or booked as a stand-alone event. The rock climbing area has a number of climbs for beginners to more advanced climbs for climbing enthusiasts. With over 30 foot walls, angled and tiered walls, there is something for everyone. We also have a game room, with pool, foosball, air hockey, etc. that can be utilized before or after rock climbing.

Buckingham Friends School is a K-8 school located in the heart of Bucks County.  It is a vibrant, diverse learning community that views each child as an individual and concentrates on developing his/her full potential through an emphasis on rights, responsibilities, and respect.  Students are taught in small classes and learn to develop a sense of community and the benefits of working together as a team, all in a safe yet challenging environment. They are encouraged to think deeply, reflect thoughtfully, resolve conflicts peacefully, and play exuberantly.  As a result, BFS students are known for their poise, self-confidence and empathy, and for their abilities to learn, to articulate their thinking and to advocate for themselves and others.



School of Rock is the nation?s leader in performance based rock music education. In our interactive music program, we believe the best way to teach music is to play music. We take students from the lesson room to the stage, developing both their confidence and musicianship with programs designed for all skill levels.  The School of Rock teaches guitar, bass, vocals, piano/keyboard drums, and combines weekly private music lessons and group band rehearsals to prepare students to take the stage in front of live audiences in an authentic concert setting. Now enrolling for SUMMER CAMP! School of Rock is the nation?s leader in performance based rock music education. In our interactive music program, we believe the best way to teach music is to play music. We take students from the lesson room to the stage, developing both their confidence and musicianship with programs designed for all skill levels.  The School of Rock teaches guitar, bass, vocals, piano/keyboard drums, and combines weekly private music lessons and group band rehearsals to prepare students to take the stage in front of live audiences in an authentic concert setting. Now enrolling for SUMMER CAMP!

The Water Wheel Tavern is ready to serve Doylestown once again. This iconic establishment has been given an extensive industrial chic renovation and we are eager to share it with you. Try our delicious new American pub-style menu, 16 Draft Taps and over 30 craft beers. We are also rolling out the red carpet with Live Entertainment on Friday and Saturday Evenings!

Doylestown Escape Room is the borough's first immersive mystery & adventure game. Behind the escape room door, with just 60 minutes to work, your group will rush to solve unique riddles, puzzles and mind tricks. Imagine a dark isolated alley; a harrowing rescue and narrow escape; a mind twisting, 60 minute quest for clues. Do you have what it take to save your friend and escape from Dead End Alley, before it's too late? In the escape room, creativity, teamwork and resourcefulness are the keys to freedom!

As the only Eastern Wellness Center in the Bucks-Mont area, Ground Luminosity offers acupuncture, eastern style massage (Shiatsu and Tui na), exercise classes (yoga, tai chi, chi gung), and plant based nutritional counseling. The bodywork therapies at Ground Luminosity stem from the Oriental Medical Theory that all illnesses of the mind and body, with their respective symptoms, are related to an underlying imbalance in an individual?s energy system. By employing massage and manipulation techniques each therapy seeks to establish a harmonious flow of Qi (energy) through the system, allowing for the body to heal itself naturally.

Opened in 1974 initiated by parents in the community, LifePath, a non-profit organization, has been providing a variety of community and residential services to individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities in 7 counties in Pennsylvania. LifePath's programs and services are guided by the principal of everyday lives, an environment of respect and dignity and opportunities to make decisions and choices about one's own life. If you are ready to make a difference in the lives of individuals in your community, we have a position for you! EOE

Residential housecleaning, weekly, biweekly, monthly since 1994. Owner operated. We ensure that you get personalized service and workers carefully selected for the reliability and professionalism you deserve. Sweeping Beauty's Guarantee: We will make your home sparkle. We give you the best housecleaning services for your money. We are totally reliable and trustworthy. You must be 100% satisfied. Five-time award winner of the Best in BucksMont, Sweeping Beauty is not a franchise. It is an independent company whose goal is to build a relationship with every one of our clients. Sit back and relax. With quality teams and a flat rate, you can rest assured that your home will be beautiful enough for a Princess. We back our work with our Happily Ever After Guarantee so you can feel confident about our work. Call Sweeping Beauty today for a free in-home estimate. Residential housecleaning, weekly, biweekly, monthly since 1994. Owner operated. We ensure that you get personalized service and workers carefully selected for the reliability and professionalism you deserve. Sweeping Beauty's Guarantee: We will make your home sparkle. We give you the best housecleaning services for your money. We are totally reliable and trustworthy. You must be 100% satisfied. Five-time award winner of the Best in BucksMont, Sweeping Beauty is not a franchise. It is an independent company whose goal is to build a relationship with every one of our clients. Sit back and relax. With quality teams and a flat rate, you can rest assured that your home will be beautiful enough for a Princess. We back our work with our Happily Ever After Guarantee so you can feel confident about our work. Call Sweeping Beauty today for a free in-home estimate.

SDG Design and Construction is a Pennsylvania Licensed and Insured residential contracting company, located in the heart of Bucks County, PA. With over 15 years of experience in the various facets of construction and home improvement, no matter how big or how small the project, our customers can always count on Affordable Pricing, Quality Workmanship, and Excellent Service. As a general contractor with long-standing connections and resources, we do ALL the work by providing a hassle-free, one-stop shop, complete home improvement package for whatever services are needed. These services include home remodeling and renovations, additions, custom carpentry, exterior improvements, and residential repair and maintenance. We service Bucks, Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware Counties, and surrounding areas of NJ and DE.

  become a sponsor

adbnrs