Here's a great story from our local paper, the Centre Daily Times, about a great guy and his love for nature and birds.
Deal secures bird sanctuary
By Anne Danahy
PATTON TOWNSHIP -- Spend a few hours on Karl H. Striedieck's picturesque property on the Bald Eagle Ridge and you start to lose track of the number of unusual birds you hear.
"There's that cuckoo," Striedieck said of the bird making a clicking noise.
The chirping came as Striedieck talked about a conservation easement he signed last week with ClearWater Conservancy. The easement, supported by a $104,500 federal grant, permanently protects Striedieck's 245-acre property from development. The goal is giving forest interior birds -- such as scarlet tanagers, warblers and wood thrushes -- a route for migrating and habitat for nesting, breeding and getting cover.
"I thought at least I could do my part with 245 acres. It really doesn't affect my life that much," Striedieck said.
He made the comments from near the top of the 95-foot fire tower that he bought for $100 and had moved from Reynoldsville to his property.
"It's the greatest view in Centre County," Striedieck said.
It's also a bird watcher's paradise. In 1993, the group he was with saw 39 golden eagles in one day.
William Hilshey, ClearWater Conservancy's conservation easement manager, said the easement on Striedieck's property is the first one in the Pennsylvania to be completed through the federal Landowner Incentive Program. The goal of the program, which is administered by the state, is to support easement on private lands that have "species of greatest conservation concern."
"With land grant programs like this people can enjoy the property and still protect the resources that need to be protected," said Hilshey, who worked with Striedieck to coordinate the grant and easement.
The grant targeted the 190 acres of forest land on Striedieck's property, but the easement also protects the 35 acres of early succession fields -- with lower growth favored by some birds -- and 10 grassy acres. The easement means that Striedieck and whoever owns the land after him are limited in what they can do with it. Housing developments, for example, are off limits.
Striedieck's property -- most of which is in Patton Township -- is also about a mile and a half from State Game Lands 176, known as Scotia Barrens, which is also a designated important bird area.
Brad Ross, wildlife biologist consultant for ClearWater, said along with the forest, the early succession habitat is very important for birds such as Eastern towhees, field sparrows, indigo buntings and catbirds.
"Those are the two key habitats that this property possesses that are really valuable," Ross said.
Striedieck, a retired military fighter pilot, lives on the property with his wife, Iris. He started buying the property in 1966, when he got 14 acres.
"When you lived out here in the 60s, it didn't look like you needed an easement on anything," Striedieck said.
In 2004 he talked with ClearWater about looking into one. A longtime member of the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Hawk Mountain Association, Striedieck said "it just seemed like the right thing to do."
When he was growing up his mother would take him to a fire tower and drop him off and he'd watch birds all afternoon, he said.
Later he became interested in raptors through the Hawk Mountain Association. He also learned falconry, which he still does, along with flying gliders from the runway on his property.
Striedieck said what pushed his interest in getting an easement was seeing the area in transition.
"This property is getting gobbled up by developers," he said.
Iris Striedieck said the easement is in keeping with her husband's love for nature.
"One of the things that's consistent in his life," she said, "is his appreciation for nature and birds and flying."