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County officials tout eco-conscious efforts

April 16, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Along a stream once fished by President Carter, officials on Tuesday touted Franklin County's progress in environmental protection over the last decade.

The county has preserved more than 7,000 acres of farmland and recycled 180,000 tons of garbage since 1992, Franklin County Commissioners Chairman G. Warren Elliott said.

"Everybody keep it going. We've got some momentum," he said, showing off graphs charting the progress.

Elliott gave his pep talk in Franklin County's Ecopark, which was developed by the county government with the help of state environmental officials and community volunteers.

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In 1996, the county set aside the 61/2 acres along the Falling Spring, downstream from where Carter once fly fished. The park is off Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg.

It was envisioned as a place where people could learn about environmental protection, said Sherry Clayton, senior planner in the Franklin County Planning Department.

Since then, its nearly one-mile gravel trail has become popular with dog owners because many of the parks in the area don't allow pets, she said.

The park is a peaceful oasis surrounded by development, including Interstate 81 in the background.

It's a good place to watch birds, said Gary Hershey of Scotland, Pa., who is a member of the National Audubon Society.

There are duck blinds along the stream and volunteers have helped to plant native trees such as red maple, silver maple, box elder and pin oaks.

Professionals have been trying to rid the park of invasive Asian ailanthus trees, also known as tree of heaven or stinkwood trees, said Bruce W. Kile, forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Pesticides were applied to cut trees in order to minimize the impact to the stream, he said.

Wetlands with goose nesting platforms also border the stream.

The Commissioners planted a forsythia bush Tuesday in the park, proclaiming April as Earth Awareness Month.

An Earth Day Celebration is planned for 1 to 5 p.m. on April 27 at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro, Pa.

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