I spent New Year’s Day hiking with friends in the Bear Meadow/Detweiler Run area of Rothrock State Forest. Our path often followed the Mid State Trail.
I started reminiscing about my amazing friend Tom Thwaites, who carved our Mid State Trail system from the rocky tops and tram roads defining the Seven Mountain ridge and valley system. Rushing through mossy channels, thick rhododendron forests and towering hemlocks — though many are down or defoliated, Detweiler Run’s beauty still outshines other trails this close to State College.
Thwaites, physicist and nature lover, died last year. He watched hemlocks die but luckily didn’t witness the anticipated decline of rhododendrons and trout dependent on the cool microclimates under those trees. Warmer winter nights in the Northeast have facilitated the northern migration of the invasive hemlock-needle-consuming woolly adelgid beetle. Temperatures below zero reduce adelgid numbers, but we don’t get many frigid nights these days.
If your eyes are open, if you care about beauty, plant and animal life in Penn’s Woods, then you realize the truth: climate warming undermines delicate systems. Our blue planet is a full degree hotter than the average of temperatures between 1900-2000. Pennsylvania’s weather changes are moderate, compared to other states, but are still damaging.
As our state tree sickens and dies, as our forests degrade, can we look our children in the eye and say we turned away from God’s creation so we could continue our fossil fuel habits? Steps to prevent more warming exist. Are we wise enough to take them?
Dorothy Blair, Boalsburg