Here  my last post from the Chesapeake Bay RAVE, it’s been 10 days now since i left Pennsylvania, here a summary of those last RAVE days!


I arrived  Lewisburg late in the day, what a fantastic place!, historic buildings everywhere and a beautiful  old iron bridge,  i managed to take some  photos in last light of reflections of bridge columns and invasive plants that created a nostalgic  river scene , i arrived later in the evening to the Copper Beach bed and Breakfast an incredibly restored 1800’s building which i later discovered that was  a hideaway during the slave trade,  the owner’s gave me an interesting overview of the place in a Flip camera interview.

Next morning i joined   professional river guides and conservationists Alan and Betsy Quant  in a Susquehanna river Kayak group expedition , my goal was to document some people/river interactions in this healthy area of the Susquehanna, a wonderful day indeed with a good example of what a healthy river environment should be, this is a couple that really put passion, time and effort to create awareness, great people indeed!


After Lewisburg i arrived Sunbury to photograph the river confluence from Shikellamy State Park  Overlook, i take some long exposures of traffic and human occupation  next to the river., later that night i drove to Harrisburg again finding lodging somewhere along the highway, i go to bed very tired in the middle of a email session and without taking my day clothes.

Rockville Bridge/Susquehanna River

I arrived Harrisburg finally and Kelly introduced me to  the Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff, later that day i drove with Kelly  to Rockville Bridge a beautiful iconographic location  to meet  Brooke Lenker who was my guide in this strecht of the Susquehanna river, i joined him with a group of 8 children between 8 and 14 years old during a 8 mile paddle, this tour happened to end at night with a fantastic thunderstorm/lightning display in the distance.


I left for Lancaster first thing in the morning, on my arrival i met  Ashley Spotts a Stream Buffer specialist from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, after having lunch asian style she guided me around to locations that host important issues related to the watershed like farms,  cattle and streams, grasess, and residential development.

Petroglyphs on the Susquehanna River, Safe Harbor, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Next day i drove to Safe Harvor to meet Paul Nevin an expert in petrogliphs and native american occupation in the Susquehanna, here a brief story on his fascinating narrative:

These ancient carvings are reminders of Man’s long association with the river. Carved by Native Peoples perhaps 600 -1,000 years ago, the images of humans, birds, and animals, and the tracks they make, and of symbols related to their belief system such as Thunderbirds, Medicine Men, and other spiritual manifestations, offer a glimpse into how these people saw and related to the world around them. Abundant archaeological evidence found on this part of the Susquehanna documents that Native Peoples were here, utilizing the river’s rich resources, for more than 12,000 years. The petroglyphs are perhaps the most striking evidence still visible to today’s visitors to the river. All of the known rock art sites on the Susquehanna occur within a 27-mile longs stretch beginning just below Columbia, and extending to just below the Maryland line – the steepest part of the river. Long believed to be merely “prehistoric graffiti”, it is now known that the petroglyphs are images that convey information about the people who made them, their activities, and their beliefs. Several images at Safe Harbor indicate that these people were recording solar positions and other astronomical events. Other’s may be directional markers. Some imply that this place was being visited for religious and other cultural purposes. Many Native Americans regard rock art sites as sacred places, and believe that the carvings were made here because of the special nature of this place. Presently we can only guess at the meanings of most, but the carvings endure as intriguing messages for us to view with wonder.

Serpent and Human Figure on Little Indian Rock, Safe Harbor, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

With more than 150 images carved onto it’s surface, Little Indian Rock is considered the premier example of Native American rock art in the Northeast United States. This photo shows a three foot long serpent carved in relief, a rarity for rock art, a fully carved human figure with big hands and feet, and several life-sized bird and animal tracks. All of the large fully carved serpent designs at Safe Harbor are oriented to places on the surrounding hills where the Sun either rises or sets on solstices and equinoxes. This serpent is oriented due north. A railroad bridge spanning the mouth of the Conestoga River is visible in the background, and transmission towers delivering electricity from Safe Harbor Dam, just upriver, dot the hillside.

Mill Creek

Next day i joined Matthew W. Kofroth, Watershed Coordinator from the Lancaster County Conservation District along with Hedy and Ashley to the banks of the Mill Creek in a stream restoration survey, here a brief descrption:

In order to better calculate the benefit of stream restoration work a stream survey is needed to gather pre-construction data.  First a  longitudinal profile is gathered from the top of the project area to the bottom to determine the overall slope of the stream section.  The deepest part of the stream channel, or the thalweg, is surveyed using a rod and laser level to determine this slope.  In addition, several cross sections across the stream are taken to gain a perspective of what the stream profile looks like.  If there are eroded stream bank we can then document these through the cross section surveys and after restoration work is completed and the banks are regraded we can figure out how much stream bank now is not eroding away because of our restoration effort.   This can give us reduction limits of how much sediment and nutrients we are preventing from entering the stream system and thus the Chesapeake Bay.

Amish farms

i spent my last RAVE day driving through beautiful Lancaster fields, Amish and mennonites pass next to me in their traditional costumes and transportation, time is frozen here, no matter how hard this people work they always have a smile to offer, i decided to park my car and walk my way through a beautiful tobacco field, i can see the silluetes of a family at work, they are Amish, a middle age couple with 4 children, all except a 4 year old girl gather tobacco, the humidity and heat  are so strong that my shirt is wet my the time i reach them, they don’t seem to be bother by my prescence, they look at my camera and i decided to flip it to my back, i spent some hours in the field with them learning the harvest technique and remembering some of the things we have forgotten with our modern day lives, we had a wonderful and fluid conversation about live in the fields and how Amish are having a hard time buying land in this area this days, modern tourism (created upon their livestyle) and residential speculation have raised the cost of the land forcing them to migrat to states like Wyoming in search of cheaper lands, what an irony

After an hour or so i decided to venture and ask them if i can document their labor, he agreeds with a smile (i cannot mention their names by request) only asking me as a favor  to not be to descriptive/frontal on their faces, the next hour i photographed their harvest laying on my belly and with an occational 4 year old girl riding on my back, i am very pleased with this appoach not only visually but socially.

After Lancaster i  head back to Washington DC, i had a long drive in peak hour traffic, what a contrast from that tobacco field afternoon!!

Before my departure i have lunch with Cristina Goetch Mittermeir in DC sharing experiences from the field and general thoughts about the RAVE.

RAVE is over, thanks to everyone involved, now have to work on my RAVE work delivery and the future Exhibit in Capitol Hill!!


13/08/2010 Today i arrived Ashley to visit the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and it’s Executive Director Robert Hughes, we visited 4 sites (Newport Township, Nanticoke, Old Forge and Wilkes-Barre)   affected by abandoned mines and suffering from acid mine damage/drainage,  local media came along and did coverage also, i never spected to find such a polluted environment, almost two days after my clothes are stained with a intense orange color and the strong smell of sulphur remains.

(above) Newport Lake-“Loch Mess”-an abandoned water-filled anthracite strip mining pit 20 acres in size, 40′ deep down the center of the pit floor, nearly 200′ feet across, 4/10s of a mile long down valley; The pit is flooded with abandoned mine drainage that enters the pit in several fractured areas along one side of the highwall to the camera right, looking down valley (north) of where we were shooting. The abandoned mine water has an alkaline pH of 6.2, very low acidity levels, and iron hydroxide levels that exceed 40 parts per million (40 mg/L). The orange-ish, red color exhibited in the pit and along the highwall’s edge is precipitated iron oxide that has dropped our of solution and deposited naturally on the rocks around the site and at the base of the natural vegetation that has grown around the water’s edge. Introduced the concept of native wetlands native vegetation or phytoremediation to treat the polluted abandoned mine drainage (AMD) utilizing plants such as cattails (typha latifolia), that have extensive, far reaching and dense rhizome root systems at the base of their stalks to filter out the iron oxide as it passes through the plants underwater roots.

(above) The Old Forge AMD Borehole (above) -This is a 50-80 million gallons per day discharge directly into the Lackawanna River, a major tributary to the Susquehanna River that mainly flows from Susquehanna County in the Forest City area at the very northern tip of the Anthracite Coal fields through Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, mainly through the City of Scranton and Old Forge, with several smaller coal town communities in between the Lackawanna Valley.

Drilled by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1961, the Old Forge Bore Hole is the biggest abandoned mine drainage outfall in the Northern Field. At 400 feet deep, and 3 ½ feet in diameter, it was intentionally set in the lowest area of the Keyser Valley (Old Forge), the bore hole relieves a mine pool with the surface area of Lake Wallenpaupack or the size of one of the Finger Lakes. Although detrimental to the aquatic life of the Lackawanna, without the bore hole this water would seep into basements of low elevation houses and businesses from Blakley to Duryea.

(below) The area upstream of the discharge on the Lackawanna River is a very productive fishery and is full of aquatic insect life and plant life. While there are occasional combined sewer overflow problems in the Lackawanna and Susquehanna drainages, the water quality just north of the AMD discharge is much higher than all the water that flows south of the discharge for nearly 3 miles until the confluence with the Susquehanna River. The bedrock of the Lackawanna River is glacial sandstones in nature and erosion forces have scoured out hundreds of potholes in the riverbed as well as smooth surfaces on the bedrock all around the AMD discharge. There is a very dramatic temperature change from the Lackawanna River just upstream of the discharge and at the discharge itself. The temperature is nearly 52 degrees at the borehole and around 64 degrees on the Lackawanna.

(below) Solomon’s Creek AMD Boreholes-Three boreholes that were intentionally drilled into the banks along the Solomon’s Creek in South Wilkes-Barre to relieve the pressure of the AMD from flooding basements following the 1972 Agnes Flood ( ). Solomon’s Creek flows through South Wilkes-Barre and further on south through Hanover Township, Buttonwood, and then out to the Susquehanna River, picking up, yet another AMD discharge from the Buttonwood Air Shaft that brings AMD from the West Side of the Wyoming Valley underneath the Susquehanna River back over to the East Side before discharging. The pH is around 6.2. The flow is over 10,000 gallons per minute. One of the 3 boreholes has an artesian flow and the other two are collapsed. The iron levels are high and upstream of the discharge is a cold water trout fishery. The sulfates are very high at this site too, with a noticeable smell or rotten eggs from the hydrogen sulfide gas that is given off as the water discharges and is aerated within the stream channel. This is another site that EPCAMR harvests the iron hydroxide and converts it to iron oxide.

At the end of the day Robert talks about future gas drilling in the area.

It’s time to take the road, next stop?, Wellisburg.

Media coverage here :

For more information please contact:

Robert E. Hughes
EPCAMR Executive Director
101 S. Main Street
Ashley, PA 18706
570-371-3523 (phone)
570-371-3522 (fax)

I am two days behind my blog posts, this days have been very intense with lots of places to visit and people to talk to, i am posting my first day on the field with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation , at the moment i find my self in Lewisburg, PA,  this will be my first morning off since the 8th of august, will focus in organizing field notes, editing/selecting  images and of course update all my trip details in this blog, enjoy and thanks for following!!

August 8/2010, spent my morning at the rental in DC with credit card issues and Visa’s 1-800 number never answers the phone, after a while everything is arranged and leave inmediatly for  Harrisburg, i get trapped in peak traffic hour  , i finally  Harrisburg and meet Kelly Donaldson  and Cathy L. Hiebert .

August 9/2010:  First morning in Harrisburg, early in the morning i walk with Cathy from Chesapeake Bay Foundation around her neighborhood, we visit a creek that feeds the Susquehanna river and  enterview her with my Flip Camera.

we meet Kelly at CBF’s headquarters around 9 am, we pack our cars and drive north to Bloomsberg, PA, to meet Andy Wodehouse Buffer specialist from CBF, heavy rain during all our beautiful drive!

We visit Schultz farm, a clean water farm award winner , this farm was also the first one to enroll in CBF’s program.

We drove a lovely rolling hill/farm scenery and  ascend to  Katawisa, where we hike to Roaring Creek, an abandoned stream channel when the Susquehanna river moved, breath taking views, to my surprise on my left side there is a huge pile of garbage 30 feet under my feet, i manage to take a couple of shots going downhill in a very steep and slippery slope , with one hand on tree branches, camera on the other.

Visit to Ken Baker farm, a warm season grasses field which was highly marginal, errodable crop land, David explains the environmental services this grasses provide by  retainings  sediments from sliding into the Susquehanna river, this grasses have deep root sistem and greater infiltration than traditional crops of soy or corn, they are very effective in restoring the land, We also hike through some ancient oaks covered with lichen.

We had a fabulous sandwich lunch at creekside restaurant in Orangeville, PA, i take my first roadside portrait of mike who works at this place, he tells me how he has grown up  next to the river, but never has  interact with it  due to the high levels of pollution.

After lunch i spent some time in Fishing Creek taking photos, when i was about to leave a grey heron lands in a light clearing of the river,  i got only two sharp photos with  the 400, (600 with the 1.4 magnification factor).

Andy takes us to our last spot, K-Farm in Orange Ville, PA, by now rain intensifies, we drive atop a mountain and get under unbrellas, Andy talks about how this place has all a farmer needs to grow grasses that could possibly be turned into pallets for fuel.

Since rain has only intensified, i manage to get some photos of this farm through my rental car’s windshield , the sliding water gives an  impressionistic effect.

Andy  tells us he  is going home and says goodbye, he has been amazingly helpful and  generous with his time, great human being!!

We head north and stay at the Woolands Resort in Wilkes-Barre, before dinner i spent some time taking photographs of Laurel Run (at one side of the hotel) , a huge exposed drainage dominates the view, is rusted and ready to collapse into the creek, i am done for the day!

For more information on this Chesapeake ILCP/CBF RAVE visit the following websites and Chesapeake Bay Foundation website

RAVE is born as an initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers.  Conceived to address the challenges of modern conservation, RAVE aims to achieve a full visual and media assessment in a short period of time by means of a multi-disciplinary team that includes several specialized ILCP photographers (landscape, wildlife, macro, camera trapping, portraiture), writers and cameramen. Their job is to bring back a comprehensive portrait of a conservation issue or threat in a very short period of time. More info at

I arrived DC last night  to participate in the Chesapeake Bay RAVE, it’s been 13 hours since i left home (delayed flight) , my wife Elizabeth drove me 3 hours  to  Los Cabos International airport from La Paz, then 11 hours more between San Jose , Charlotte and finally Reagan Airport in DC, i am staying at the Hotel Americana famous for it’s old fashion style which made it well known among the filming industry;. Today my friend, colleague and ILCP president Cristina Goetch Mittermeir picked me up in her fabulous statementmovil  to take me to ILCP’s headquarters in CI’s building.

Cristina's Statementmovil

Once in ILCP Cristina introduced me to some people i only knew by phone or email, the ILCP staff is very friendly and their work environment  fantastic!,  walls are framed by Frans Lanting, Daniel Beltra , Art Wolfe, Nick Nichols, Annie Griffits and Cristina’s own work among other ILCP fellows. After going through some RAVE details with Justin Black ILCP’s Director i received finally my flip camera which i will be using in the field to record video for ILCP’s EXPOSE blog. After having a wonderful and healthy lunch, Cristina drives me on her way to the airport to a camera store where i bought some items  required for this assignment.

The following hours led to a  a  visit to NG headquarters  to see  Joel Sartore’s (ILCP fellow) exhibit  RARE, after a long hot and humed walk i ride the metro back  to my hotel where i am  currently doing research for my  assignment,.

Tomorrow i am renting a vehicle and will drive 3 hours to Harrisburg to meet Kelly Donaldson from Chesapeake Bay Foundation ,  the following 8 days i will be following the Susquehanna river south of NY to Pennsylvania.

RAVE is born as an initiative of the International League of Conservation Photographers.  Conceived to address the challenges of modern conservation, RAVE aims to achieve a full visual and media assessment in a short period of time by means of a multi-disciplinary team that includes several specialized ILCP photographers (landscape, wildlife, macro, camera trapping, portraiture), writers and cameramen. Their job is to bring back a comprehensive portrait of a conservation issue or threat in a very short period of time. More info at