Celebrate Earth Day at Mill Cove Environmental Area

Photo by John Eaton Cheri Heimbach, of Baywings Falconry, plans to attend this month’s Earth Day celebration at Mill Cove Environmental Area and bring with her eight birds of prey, including Saphira, a red-tailed hawk.

MANSFIELD — The seventh annual Earth Day at the Mill Cove Environmental Area will offer plenty of free, hands-on activities and educational programs for people of all ages between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. Mill Cove is north of Mansfield.

Activities are free and open to the public, and fishing rods and archery equipment will be provided free to use during the day. Parking is free too.

“We offer a wide variety of activities appropriate for children, youth and adults,” said Dr. David Flesch, a retired Mansfield University biology professor, who has chaired this event since 2014. “Everyone will find plenty to do that will inspire them to make every day Earth Day.”

“More than 50 vendors will be selling unique items and food so plan to stay several hours and have fun,” Flesch said. Barbecued chicken, hamburgers and ribs; maple syrup and honey products; jams, jellies, tomato relish, free-range eggs and certified naturally grown aquaponic salad mix; cotton candy, various flavors of popcorn, peanuts, desserts and coffee will be available.

Earth Day is held rain or shine.

“Since you never know about the weather, we recommend everyone bring hiking shoes and rain gear just in case,” said Flesch.

“The purpose of Earth Day at Mill Cove is to showcase Tioga County’s natural resources and the importance of conservation through the Mill Cove Environmental Area. This will be fun learning for everyone,” he added.

Among the activities are birds of prey demonstrations at 10:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., zip line rides throughout the day and a 1:30 p.m. concert being given in the main pavilion by Van Wagner, of Danville. Wagner is a singer/songwriter, historian and Pennsylvania logger and coal miner who will sing songs he has written about Pennsylvania’s natural heritage with a focus on this region’s wildlife, forests and coal and lumbering eras.

Free trips on a zip line will provide an exhilarating way to view Earth Day activities. Riders who weigh more than 60 pounds and less than 250 pounds will climb the stairs, hook the harness to the zip line and take a quick, 100- to 110-foot trip from about 25 feet up in the air to the ground.

Cheri Heimbach and her son, Jonathan, of Baywings Falconry, of Lewisburg, will do two educational falconry demonstrations, the first at 10:30 a.m. and the second at 12:15 p.m. Youngsters may be invited to participate.

“We are planning to bring eight birds with us, including Radar, a barn owl; Starlight, a gyrfalcon; Sonora, a Harris’s hawk; Owlexander, an eagle owl; Finn, a peregrine falcon; Bandit and Kimber, both American kestrel falcons; and Saphira, a red-tailed hawk,” Heimbach said.

The birds will demonstrate their agility in capturing prey by chasing down lures and flying through hoops.

“We do not use live prey during our programs,” she noted.

Attendees will learn about birds of prey, where they come from, how they are trained, conservation and their role in maintaining the balance of nature.

“Our wildlife face many challenges today and we will touch on some of the ways the public can help keep our environment healthy for all living creatures,” Heimbach added.

Fish will be stocked in the Cove’s pond for the annual fishing derby. There will be fly-casting lessons, fly-fishing and archery demonstrations and a marshmallow archery event as well as archery target shooting.

The Lambs Creek Sportsman’s Club will host its signature BB gun shooting contest.

If weather permits, the Mountain Modelaires will fly small electric helicopters and quad copters and have a computer set up with an R/C flight simulator so people can try flying. There will also be a display of radio controlled aircraft and information about the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which charters the Modelaires.

Kiddie Corner will offer activities for toddlers to first graders.

The Mansfield Lions Club will do free vision screenings for youth ages six months to 17 years old.

Mansfield University faculty will also be involved in Earth Day.

“We have a host of ecological expeditions planned to provide a more in-depth discovery of the uniqueness of the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania,” said Flesch. “We will be looking more closely at the biology of Mill Creek with water quality testing demonstrations, aquatic insect surveys and a demonstration on calculating water flow in streams.”

A Benedict’s Bus Service shuttle bus will provide free rides to take those who park in the Mill Cove public parking area to the Earth Day registration area at the entrance to Mill Cove. Individuals with mobility issues can be dropped off in the registration area at Mill Cove before parking.

Sponsoring Earth Day are Mansfield University and Mill Cove Inc., a nonprofit organization formed to enhance the area for recreational and environmental education purposes.

To participate as a vendor, demonstrate outdoor skills or present a program or for more information about Earth Day at Mill Cove and directions visit the Mill Cove Environmental Area website at www.millcovearea.org or contact event vendor manager Patricia Butts at 570-463-1407 or pbutts6610@yahoo.com.

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