DANVILLE – While taking a Penn State Master Gardeners course, Suzy Wickham learned of an island steward program.
“We were writing and talking about water quality of the river when classmates told me about the program. I thought it was perfect way to get the kids involved in a volunteer activity,” the Danville resident said.
She, husband Tom and kids ages 19, 15 and 10 plan to paddle to island Number 109, in the Port Trevorton area, for the first time during the July 4th Weekend.
They expect to camp on the island which is next to Herrold Island where there is no trespassing.
The voluntary stewardship program, of the Susquehanna River Trail Association Inc., involves more than 20 stewards taking care of 23 campsites on 20 islands, association president Brook Lenker. Some islands have more than one campsite.
The association, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, manages islands on what is known as the 51-mile-long middle trail between Sunbury and Harrisburg. The islands are owned by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The Wickhams will be serving as stewards along with Stephen Williams, of Lancaster County, who was steward of Island 109 last year. He described it as “long and skinny and a couple of acres.”
“I am so glad to be able to share it with other people – we will be able to tag-team,” he said.
Stewards are asked to visit the island at least once a month and to pick up trash, remove invasive species and check on the status of the island.
“When the river level rises and falls, stuff floats downstream and gets caught in branches and trees. You end up with old tires and junk that floats downstream,” Williams said. Stewards are asked to look for dangerous situations such as a tree limb that has fallen, making it less safe for people to stay there. “We want to keep it safe for people and the idea is to keep it looking very natural,” he said.