Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Spotlight On A Busy Master Watershed Steward - Tom Price, Bucks County

By Mimi Volker,
Master Watershed Steward Volunteer

If one were to contemplate how to optimally use the added time they have when retired, look no further than Tom Price, Bucks County Master Watershed Steward.

Tom Price retired as a Social Studies teacher from Central Bucks School District in 2013, and he has been busy ever since.

Raised in Bucks County, Tom found a love of the natural environment, mostly fostered by his grandmother, who opened the door to birding, gardening, and outdoor activities that encouraged more exploration. 

Finishing a career in teaching and having raised two young men with his wife Beth, he found more time to read, finally reading a book that had been sitting on a shelf for several years, Bringing Nature Home by Dr. Douglas Tallamy

This book brought the pieces together, namely, what one could do in one's own community to encourage biodiversity and allow a supportive habitat for all manner of creatures, as well as reciprocity between people, plants and animals. 

On his own property that borders Cooks Run (a tributary of the Neshaminy Creek) and a good deal of enthusiasm, Tom planted over 100 native trees and shrubs. 

A devotee of Dr. Tallamy’s approach, Tom has read each of his books, and encourages everyone who wants a more bio-dynamic property to explore Dr. Tallamy's writings, too. 

Currently, Tom is reading A New Garden Ethic by Benjamin Vogt, which deals with the impact of climate change, species extinction, and speaks to the need to create gardens that benefit both humans and wildlife. Tom highly recommends it.

Tom has been gardening for over 30 years, but it’s only been the last decade that he’s focused on native plants. Always seeking knowledge, Tom has trained as a naturalist with the Bucks County Audubon Society, studied with the Natural Lands Trust’s Forces of Nature program, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's Tree Tenders program, and our own Penn State Master Watershed Steward program

Tom’s property has been on two garden tours, the last one focusing on the theme of transitioning to native plants. 

Recently, Tom has been a witness to the impact of climate change on his own property, with stormwater runoff contributing to ever greater issues of soil erosion and the reconfiguration of Cooks Run. 

Hurricane Ida opened a whole new channel, creating a more spread-out waterway. Being ever mindful of these impacts, 

Tom does what he can by planting trees and shrubs that encourage deep roots to help stabilize soil and help prevent further erosion, in addition to creating wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and decreasing water runoff.

In addition to his own property, Tom has substantially contributed to several important public spaces by chairing committees in New Britain Borough, Bucks County: The Wilma Quinlan Preserve (WQNP), Orchard Park, and Bird Town. 

Tom is the driving force behind the management and improvement of these spaces and organizations, with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers. 

Tom wants everyone to know that this is the 50th anniversary of WQNP, a 35-acre tract along the Neshaminy Creek and Cooks Run. 

The project has been a recipient of several accolades and is a real-time example of efforts to transition a parcel of land to a native-friendly habitat that promotes the synergy of biodiversity. 

The preserve includes multiple pollinator-friendly meadows, thoughtful plantings of native shrubs and trees, and an easy-to-navigate, well-maintained trail system.

When garden and outdoor activities are curtailed because of winter weather, Tom spends his time reading, reflecting, and planning for what's next. Tom says, "I'm never finished and I’m always thinking about what else I can do." 

That sizes up Tom's "can do" attitude, and so many prosper from his leadership and example.

For more information on how you can get involved in your county, visit the Penn State Extension’s Master Watershed Steward Program webpage.

(Reprinted from Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Related Articles This Week:

-- Penn State Extension Beings 5-Part Backyard Stream Repair Webinar Series March 15

-- Award-Winning Master Watershed Steward Projects From 2021

-- Penn State Extension Drinking Water Team To Offer Water Testing In 18 PA Counties

Related Articles - Penn State Extension:

-- Penn State Extension 9-Part Webinar Series - Woods In Your Backyard [Now Going On]

-- Registration Now Open! Virtual 2022 Watershed Forestry Summit March 2-3

-- Penn State Extension 5-Part Webinar Series On Woodland Stewardship Starting March 2

-- Penn State/DCNR Forest Health, Insect And Disease Virtual Update March 17

-- Penn State Extension: Teach For Forests: Forest Education For Teachers, Youth Leaders

[Posted: February 22, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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