Westmoreland libraries will receive book that provides a ‘snapshot’ of county’s natural areas
Retired biology teacher Dick Byers of Stahlstown set out with a group of volunteers to document Westmoreland County’s natural areas and preserve a “snapshot” of the region’s flora and fauna for future generations.
The next generation will have a chance to read all about it through the county’s library network. Each library will receive copies of “Natural Areas In and Around Westmoreland County” thanks to the Westmoreland Land Trust.
“The land trust is so pleased to make this donation,” Executive Director Betsy Aiken said. “We hope this excellent publication will deepen readers’ appreciation of our county’s exceptional natural resources and the value of their conservation.”
Alongside a group of volunteers, Byers — who edited the book — set out to document natural areas within a 35-mile radius of Greensburg, encompassing 98 distinct locations.
“We tried to describe what the casual visitor most likely would see and listed the more common species, plus a few rare ones for interest,” Byers said.
The authors are primarily self-educated naturalists, and Byers asked them to return to each area a minimum of four times per year.
“Once in every season,” he said, “to note the changes, the lay of the land and the best time of year to visit.”
A little bit of the history of each site is included, as well as a list of birds and plants that visitors are likely to see. Scenic views and can’t-miss features are also provided.
Sections of the book delve into the healed scars of mining, logging and even war that transformed parts of the region, and describe current threats such as invasive plants and deer overpopulation.
“Every natural area is different,” Byers said. “A record of what the area looked like, before the changes yet to be, is worth keeping.”
The land trust works to conserve land in Westmoreland County of ecological, historic, scenic or recreational value.
For more information, see Westmoreland-landtrust.org or call 724 325-3031.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .