Tree cutters work quickly before bats leave hibernation in Somerset County
A small bat with mouse-like ears has crews working quickly to clear trees in preparation for an 11-mile, four-lane extension of Route 219 in Somerset County.
Two tree-cutting services have about six weeks to prepare 249 acres of a wooded area for the road construction. Their goal is to complete the work before Indiana bats, an endangered species, come out of hibernation to nest and roost in the trees.
“You can't disrupt their home if their home's not there,” said Ryan Beeghly, a partner in Beeghly Tree Service in Somerset.
Insect-eating Indiana bats typically come out of hibernation in the spring when they find homes in wooded areas. The endangered species is common to Pennsylvania and its habitat extends west to Missouri.
The tree clearing is an inaugural step in completing the Route 219 extension, which will connect Somerset to Meyersdale. Construction is expected to begin this summer and the goal for completion is fall 2017, according to Greg Illig, PennDOT project manager.
The project is being funded by a federal reserve associated with the completion of the Appalachian Highway Development System, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg.
Crews from K.W. Reese, Inc. of Mercersburg and Beeghly Tree Service began clearing trees Friday morning. The late March deadline will ensure work is completed before the bats emerge.
“That's the reason the state is doing it the way they're doing it,” Beeghly said.
K.W. Reese crews are clearing 147 acres while Beeghly Tree Service workers will take care of the remaining 102 acres. K.W. Reese project manager Daryl Booher said splitting the project into two portions will help the two companies get the work done on time.
“We knew we couldn't do it all in the time frame we were allotted,” Booher said.
Both companies are felling the trees and leaving them on the ground.
“It is a rather large area,” Illig said.
Indiana bats have played a role in other area construction projects.
In November, the Armstrong School District in Armstrong County approved donating $61,800 to the Indiana Bat Conservation Fund after officials learned that proposed high school construction would encroach on bat territory.
In October 2011, Duke Energy shut down nighttime operations at its wind farm after an Indiana bat carcass was found at the site in September.
Indiana bats were listed as endangered in 1967.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blairsville woman struck by car remains in Pittsburgh hospital
- Indiana County expects to save more than $2M by refinancing
- Evanko set to retire as Indiana County commissioner at year’s end
- Local painter’s public, private work rediscovered for Blairsville exhibit
- Smicksburg gains reputation as pottery hotbed
- Firefighters respond to blaze in East Wheatfield Township
- Blairsville-Saltsburg study cites savings in school merger
- Blairsville Borough adds new car to police fleet