Notes from the StreamsIllustrations by Ted Walke
Illustrated reports from our Waterways Conservation Officers throughout the state.
The following are only a few of the entries which appear regularly in Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine.

Illustration of valveMechanicsburg mystery

A local landscaper was performing routine maintenance on an irrigation system when he found nearly two miles of pipe and numerous valves clogged with black-and-white clam-shaped objects. Being aware of the zebra mussel problem in the Lake Erie drainage, and knowing these creatures inhabit water intakes and water systems, he was concerned they had spread to the Susquehanna watershed. I informed him that the zebra mussel has not been verified as living in this drainage, but we would be seriously interested to know if they had established themselves here.

Two weeks later I again spoke to the landscaper. He had returned to the site and asked the landowner if one of the old valves he replaced was still available for inspection. Indeed it was, and this time the inside of the valve was covered in green. Because he was in the nursery business, he quickly identified the problem as sunflowers.

Evidently, mice and chipmunks were storing their winter food supply in the underground pipes from the numerous bird feeders the landowner had on his property. When the time came to irrigate, the whole system was full of sunflower seeds, and thankfully, not zebra mussels.­WCO Lee Creyer Southern York County.

Illustration of turtleTurtle in the road

During a recent springtime patrol in the vicinity of Haycock Creek, Bucks County, I encountered a large turtle in the middle of the road. Because there was no traffic, I pulled over to remove the turtle from its potential fatal position. After closer examination of the healthy wood turtle, I observed two small legs protruding from the turtle's mouth. Evidently, a small frog was squashed earlier by a passing car, and the turtle was getting a fairly easy meal. Later, after thinking about this incident, I was amazed at the sense of smell, sight, or both that the turtle exhibited to find that small delicacy in the middle of the highway.­WCO Stanley D. Plevyak, Northern Bucks County.

Lessons learned

Illustration of WCOWhile I was still in our agency's training school, I was assigned to field training in a very busy district in the southeast. We worked long hours from late Friday afternoon straight through the weekend, which included dealing with some very serious boating violations. By Sunday evening, we almost had our whole work week completed in terms of hours. Even though I love to work, I felt as if I had completed several weeks of training in that short period. He assured me that Monday would be a short and easy day. It was also the hottest. As we began our patrol we went to a nearby fish passageway to study how it works and observe the various species of fish using it. While I was down in the observation room, I heard my training officer yell something that I could not discern, but I knew from the volume and tone of his voice that something was wrong. I ran up the steps to his location where he informed me that while leaning over the railing looking down into the passageway below, his expensive pens fell out of his pocket. He said we would have to shut down the passageway to retrieve them, at which point he handed me a huge crank. I started cranking and an hour (or two) later I had succeeded in finishing the task, despite being ready to pass out from the heat.

Surprisingly enough, he did recover his pens. Then for another hour (or two) I began the arduous task of cranking the gate back to its fully open position. However, while I was doing that, he went to his nearby patrol car to get a drink, when he managed to slam the car door on his hand. Once again, hearing his blood-curdling screams, I rushed to his rescue only to find him holding his hand and running, hunched over in pain, in circles around his car next to a very busy freeway. He said I was going to have to take him to the hospital. I told him I had no idea how to get there and suggested we call an ambulance because his hand was bleeding profusely. He declined, so I bandaged his hand and went back to the task of re-opening the gate.

I learned several lessons from this training experience. First, no day in a district is easy. Second, do not carry expensive pens while on patrol. Third, opening and closing a fish passage gate by hand is a lot harder than it looks.

However, my resident training officer also learned a lesson from this experience, though he did not know it at that time. By way of this stream note, paybacks are tough.­WCO George Geisler, Northern York County.


January/February 1999 PA Angler & Boater


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