September 22, 2022 by lancasterherp
The Lancaster Herpetological Society (LHS) wants to thank everyone who attended the meeting this past Friday. It was the first indoor meeting of the group since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also want to thank That Fish Place/That Pet Place for graciously allowing us to use their conference room for the meeting!
We were fortunate to have long-time LHS member Zach Barton speak about his yard renovation project. Having a lot of time at home due to the pandemic, he decided to transform his grassy yard into something that would welcome native amphibians and reptiles. He wanted to create a safe haven for any herps that might wander into his yard from the suburban sprawl of his residential neighborhood.
Inspiration for the project came from the spring of 2019, where Zach took a tour of the Rain Gardens in Lancaster City. Rainfall and stormwater from the city flow directly into the city’s sewer system, which can overflow during times of intense rain. In these instances, the overflowing rainwater, now mixed with sewage, can flow out of sewer system and into the surrounding waterways. Rain Gardens have been constructed around the city to slow the flow of water into the sewer systems, helping to prevent them from overflowing. They also add some refreshing greenery to the concrete and asphalt environments of the city. Inspired by the candid discussion of the city’s various Rain Gardens, Zach thought he could do something similar with his own yard, and attract native herps along the way. Specifically, he wanted to create a Shade Garden which would be a refuge for salamanders from the hot summer sun.
Before starting the project, Zach’s yard was a fairly traditional suburban yard: grass and some trees that were not native to the state of Pennsylvania (a Norway maple, Japanese maple, and a Lilac tree). In order to attract native reptiles and amphibians, you need native plantlife to attract native insects, which become a food source for the herps. The Norway maple was a very large tree, but it still had to go!
It was both exiting and inspiring to hear about Zach taking his idea and making it a reality. I think it got everyone’s imagination going, thinking about what similar projects they could do on their own properties. The talk was a wonderful way to start indoor LHS meetings after a long absence. Once again, we want to thank everyone who came out to the meeting, and especially Zach for giving the talk. We are also grateful to That Fish Place for giving us a space for the meetings. Watch for a future email to detail next month’s meeting.
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