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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Man Injured At Go Kart Track In Sweden Township

Coudersport Ambulance and Medics have responded to Watson's Go Kart Track in Sweden Township where a man is reported to have a head injury.

Injuries In Otto Township Accidents

Otto Township emergency services in neighboring McKean County are busy this evening. While attending to a victim of a go kart accident, they were called to a second call behind the Otto Eldred High School for a hit and run vehicle-pedestrian accident.

Several police departments were involved in locating and apprehending the hit and run vehicle and its driver.
WESB News: 07/30/07 - Gifford Man Drives into Pedestrians A Gifford man has been charged after running into several pedestrians in an alcohol- related incident Saturday night in Duke Center. Court records accuse 49 year-old Thomas Sink of hitting several people with his SUV on Sweitzer Drive. Sink left the scene and was followed by an off-duty Bradford City Police officer to his home in Gifford. Bradford Township Police then arrived and arrested him. Sink was sent to McKean County Prison on $20,000 dollars bail A male and female were taken to BRMC for treatment of unknown injuries.

Bike and Build--Yellowstone Ahead--Bridget Sheehan Posts

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hail Storm

I usually do my blog posts in order; neatly and efficient. Today is a little different. This is only because I am so excited to tell you all that I am in a little library tucked in the woods of Idaho with Greg and Win, I can't even believe they have Internet.

The day began with a beautiful bike ride through a national forest and a hike down to a waterfall with a perfect "Lucky Charms" like rainbow. 10 miles later we sat down at a gas station for lunch where we found out our plans for tonight were not exactly nailed down.

We are supposed to camp in Yellowstone tonight at a campsite that we have already reserved and paid for. Then the leaders found out that it was 40 miles into the park, and then they found out that it would cost us $400 altogether to get in, not $75.

So after that little bump in the road everyone at lunch went crazy. How many miles are we biking today? How much will it cost? Will we see Old Faithful? How many minutes every hour does Old Faithful erupt? What if I don't want to camp out?

Win, Greg and me just couldn't handle it so we biked on, but about 10 miles down the road it began to rain. We stopped and put our electronics away and that's when a little cafe caught our eye, we decided we would stay out of the rain and lightning and enjoy some hot cocoa.

As soon as we stepped in the door of the cafe it began to pour and hail. The hail storm was unbelievable! We sat sipping our hot cocoa for about 30 minutes until the sun came out again. Soon enough our fellow bikers came down the road soaking wet, they apparently did not find shelter as we did.

After making some clever jokes their way we continued on and we didn't even go two miles until we saw a sign that said "library." I looked to see where the arrow pointed and according to the sign there was a library off the highway in the middle of the woods. This we just had to check out. So here we are, in the middle of the woods in Idaho, using the Internet. 20 miles to go and we will be in West Yellowstone.

Although i have no idea whether or not we are camping tonight or biking through the park or even seeing Old Faithful. Right now that really doesn't matter.

Brianne Downing Posts For Bike and Build

27 July 2007

I climbed a mountain today

I don't have much time to type before this little restaurant with WiFi closes; we climbed more than 4,000+ feet in about 5 miles, at a 10% grade, up Teton Pass today. About halfway up the mountain, I started sobbing as I struggled, pedaling between 3.5 and 5 mph. I wasn't sobbing from the pain in my legs or from the pain in my arm (from the fall down the stairs).

I was wailing because I was pedaling up a flippin' mountain, amid the clouds, in Wyoming -- and I'd pedaled from Rhode Island to get there. I finally pulled over to a viewpoint and called Mum. I had to calm down quickly so she wouldn't think I was seriously injured (I was sobbing). We talked for a bit and then I called Dad. It was pretty cool to know that I was almost to the top of Teton Pass and he was almost to the top of Chinook Pass on his way to go fishing.

I got back on the road, and just a bit later saw that favorite sign of mine -- the steep downhill sign. At once, my tears came back. I'm riding up a mountain. I'm almost to the top! Oh my gosh.

As I pedaled closer, still up this 10% grade, I heard screams and shouts coming from the summit. All of the Bike & Builders ahead of me were cheering me on. I was in a state of euphoria, and the tears and wails just kept coming. I reached the top, Patrick and Lauren rushed to hug me and I got off my bike, amazed with myself. I made it to the top.

I called Mum back, told her I'd made it, and then I rushed with renewed energy to catch up with Logan, Courtney, Nathan and Marie on a hike to the very top. From there (around the bend in the trail), we saw Idaho in the distance. Just amazing.

Evan Dana Posts For Bike and Build

Friday, July 27, 2007



Ashton, ID (72 miles)

I had a great stay with the Cummings' the other night in Landers with Sam. We each took turns, some of us better musically equipped than the other, playing the super-duper-electro-ORGAN-erator. Really neat.

The next day I was astounded with the amazing beauty of the mountains as the patchy clouds highlighted a few peaks at a time. We had a 30 mile climb (moderate-low grade), on which I stopped more with the descent than the climb. Due to some construction, we were trucked 4 miles over some gravel, but rode the bulk of it. After crossing the Continental Divide, which divides the watersheds for the Atlantic and Pacific, we saw signs for "10% grade [down] for next 17 miles". Wow. We stopped frequently, some due to the cold wet air, but mostly for the view. I'll let the pictures do the talking though. There was so much more astounding landscape, but only photos will do it justice.

Today we crossed the Teton Pass, at 8468 ft - a 2k+ climb in 5.5 miles. Yeah, it was steep. It took me the first third of it to accept the grade, accept the effort necessary, and just settle into a groove. I was climbing solo through thick clouds for who knows how long. Occasionally the grade would weaken, but never decline. Then as I rounded a bend, the sun snuck into a corner of the mountain and illuminated it in the majesty that it deserved...

A few more stretches of dense clouds later, I crept out above the clouds to see them below me, and a nearby mountain peak reaching out of the sea of white. All those phrases poets said are actually true. I almost chocked on its beauty. I was tearing. I was laughing. It took my breath away. I flew up the last 200m, with exclamations of accomplishment and awe. I then climbed to the peak of the nearby mountain and saw the clouds stretch out endlessly below me, and I thought for a second that I must be flying.


Serious Vehicle-Pedestrian Accident by Fairgrounds

Shinglehouse Fire and Ambulance personnel and medics are reported to be on the scene of a serious motor vehicle-pedestrian accident in front of the Potter County Fairgrounds in Millport at 3:45 pm.

A life flight helicopter has been dispatched to the Charles Cole Memorial Hospital helipad to transport the patient to an out of town hospital.

Rabies Clinic Today in Coudersport At Gazebo

A Rabies Clinic Will be held today Saturday, July 28, 2007 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Gazebo on the Courthouse Square in Coudersport.

All dogs and cats at least 12 weeks old can be vaccinated against the rabies virus. The first vaccination is good for one year. Subsequent vaccinations are good for 3 years. All animals must be on a leash or in a container. Cost is $5.00 per animal.

The clinic is sponsored by Dr. Ronnie Schenkein of the Coudersport Animal Health Center.

Missing Sykesville Woman Sought After Fatal Fire

Area woman still missing---From the Dubois Courier Express
DuBOIS - The state police are continuing their search for a woman who hasn't been seen since a fire heavily damaged her rented home in Sykesville.

Joey Lynn Offutt, 33, has been the object of an intensive search since the July 12 fire at 90 Dr. Fugate Drive, Sykesville.

In the course of the fire investigation, the remains of an infant child were located inside the residence. Results of an autopsy to determine the identity of the child and the manner of its death have not been released.

Two other children in the home escaped injury and were last reported to be staying with relatives.

Offutt has not been seen since prior to the fire. Investigators feel there are suspicious circumstances surrounding her disappearance and have a concern for her welfare.

Her vehicle, a red 1994 Saturn Coupe with Virginia Registration JXN8871, was located near the Nittany Gardens Apartments in State College.

Offutt is 5 feet, 3 inches tall. She weighs 110 pounds. She has a small build and brown hair and has glasses.

She also has a speech impairment, a lisp, and is known to frequent the State College and Winchester areas of Pennsylvania.

Anyone with information on Offutt's whereabouts should call the state police at 371-4652 or Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers Toll Free at 1-800-4PA-TIPS. All callers to Crime Stoppers remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Autistic Teen Found Safe After Search In Sweden Twp.

WFRM Reports:

The search for an autistic teen in Sweden Township late Thursday night ended happily early Friday morning. Some 45-50 volunteer emergency services personnel from Coudersport, Austin and Roulette assisted Sweden Township Police and the Coudersport Borough police K-9 unit searching the wooded area surrounding the residence on the Ice Mine Road that the 16 year old had left at around 11:00 p.m. He was located about four hours later some two and a half miles from the residence, and other than being tired, he was said to be in good condition.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oil And Gas Rules In Pennsylvania

Pa. court says state controls natural gas and oil well sites

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Local governments in Pennsylvania are pre-empted by state law from regulating the location of natural gas and oil wells, even if they are in residential developments, the Commonwealth Court ruled Friday.

Overturning the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, a seven-judge panel of the appellate court said the Legislature eliminated municipalities' authority to restrict well placement when it amended the state Oil and Gas Act in 1992.

The court sent the case back to Allegheny County and directed the Oakmont Borough Council to grant the conditional use permits sought by Huntley & Huntley Inc., an oil and gas exploration company seeking to drill in a residential subdivision.

A lawyer whose firm serves as Oakmont's solicitor said the ruling leaves local governments virtually powerless to control the growing number of gas and oil wells that are being drilled in many parts of Pennsylvania.

To read the rest of this story in the philly-burbs see

Just For Your Enjoyment!!!!

2007 Potter County Fair Opens Sunday At Millport

Marking its 71st running, the Potter County Fair will open Sunday, July 29, 2007 at the fairgrounds in Millport. While the faces at the fair have changed over the decades, many things remain the same: the event's old-time charm and the fact that parking and admission are free, as are the nightly concerts - all things that add to the fair's attractiveness for all ages. An added bonus is that the fair educates as well as entertains both children and adults.

Activities for Sunday, July 29th:

Check in of Rabbits..........................8:00 am-10:00 am
Rabbit Show....................................................11:00 am
Check in of Swine...............................12:00 to 5:00 pm
Horse Pull........................................................12: noon

Check in of Goats,
Sheep and Beef.....................................2:00 to 5:00 pm
Pony Pull..........................................................3:00 pm
Weigh in of Market Animals............................6:00 pm
Opening Ceremonies and Kiddie Parade.........6:00 pm
Music..(to be announced)............7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Potter County Man Guilty Of Killing Osprey

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Glenn Andrew Batson, of Coudersport, Potter County, recently pled guilty to killing an osprey, a state threatened species, at the Rainbow Paradise Trout Farm in Coudersport, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials. On June 20, Batson was ordered by District Judge Annette Easton to pay a fine and replacement costs totaling $3,000. He also faces the loss of his hunting and trapping privileges for up to three years.

On April 24, Batson, an employee at the trout farm, was witnessed shooting the osprey with a .22-250 rifle because the bird had been preying on trout. An individual, who has stopped by the farm to take photos of the majestic birds, was shocked when he heard a gun shot and watched as one of a pair of osprey fell to the ground.

After contacting the Game Commission Northcentral Region Office, Wildlife Conservation Officers (WCOs) Mark Fair and William Ragosta, of Potter County, and WCO Thomas Sabolcik, of McKean County, promptly followed up on the information provided by the informant. The officers were able to retrieve sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute the case.

"Protection of wildlife is one of the primary missions of the Game Commission," said WCO Fair. "To do our jobs effectively, we rely on individual's to assist us by providing information on cases, such as this. Through the timely and detailed information provided, we were able to see justice served in this case."

Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," are large eagle-like hawks. They are primarily fish-eaters and, in areas of good habitat, can be seen diving from the sky into the water to catch prey. They currently are listed as a "threatened species" in Pennsylvania, but in recent years they have made considerable progress on their road to recovery. Their population, like other birds of prey, was devastated by the widespread use of the now-banned pesticide DDT.

The Game Commission, in cooperation with East Stroudsburg University, Wild Resources Conservation Fund and local Audubon Society chapters, worked to restore ospreys to the Commonwealth in the early 1980s through a pioneering hacking program, similar to the one used to fuel Pennsylvania's bald eagle recovery. The first Pennsylvania-hacked osprey returned in 1983, and two years later the state documented its first nesting pair since 1910. Additional reintroduction efforts were sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Tioga-Hammond Dams in Tioga County, by the Moraine Preservation Fund at Moraine State Park in Butler County, and by Juniata College and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Raystown, Huntingdon County.

In 1998, ospreys were down-listed from endangered to threatened in response to the success of these programs. As of 2004, at least 65 pairs of ospreys nest were documented in 17 counties in the state. Due to budget cuts, osprey nest monitoring was discontinued in 2005 and 2006.

"Ospreys are still a fragile species in our state," said Tony Ross, Game Commission Northcentral Region Wildlife Management supervisor. "They have made considerable gains, but there's still plenty of unoccupied habitat waiting for ospreys to use. Until they move into these areas, we'll continue to consider these birds a species of special concern."

For more information about ospreys, visit the Game Commission's website (, click on "Wildlife" then choose "Endangered and Threatened Species" and select "Osprey" under the "Threatened Species" listing.

Hymn Sing At Berkheimers Friday & Saturday

The Annual Hymn Sing at Joel and Melissa Berkheimers is Friday, July 27 and Saturday July 28, 2007. Watch for the sign at Route 6 and Fishing Creek Road in Roulette. For more information you can call 814-274-7526.

Bike and Build----Pictures From Wyoming

Thursday, July 26, 2007 Bridget Sheehan

Tourists Galore

We moved off Route 20 and onto apparently "Route Tourist." Gosh that was like a bad Sam joke. The trailers that pass me at about 90 mph have made me too tired to post about Dubois but here are some photos.

And then the backboard shattered...

As I'm sure you've realized by now we usually stay at a lot of churches, YMCA's, schools, etc...Well in Lander we got a real special treat, we got to split up and stay in peoples homes! Yes I said it, real houses! This meant showers, dinner tables, and most importantly, beds!!!! Before I get into that though, let me tell you how amazing the town of Lander, Wyoming is.

We got into town around 11:30, here's a picture from the ride. We finally started seeing some mountains.

Once we got into town of course we were starving so Greg, Marie and I went to a local Pizza bar. We sat down and ordered two pizzas and root beer floats. To our surprise when we went to pay the bill, one of the regulars who had been sitting near us already paid it! This was just the first of many signs that the people of Lander are so generous and caring. I mean they let 30 smelly dirty bikers into their homes!

After dinner at the park, our hosts took us to an amazing natural Lander wonder, Sinks Canyon. Sinks Canyon is so named because the Middle Fork of the Popo Agie river flows out of the Wind River Mountains and through the Canyon. Halfway down the canyon the river abruptly turns into a large limestone cavern, and the crashing water "sinks" into fissures and cracks at the back of the cave. The river is underground for 1/4 mile until it emerges down canyon and then continues its course into the valley below. Where the water goes while it is underground is unknown.

Not only was this Canyon amazing but just the drive during dusk was enough to make me want to pack up and move to Lander. The mountains were gorgeous and just minutes away was a natural water slide and tons of hiking paths. Blocking the rode during our ride were two huge big horned sheep, the first I've ever seen outside the zoo!

Driver Escapes Fiery Crash On 144 In Southern Potter

From Elmira Star Gazette:

State Police at Coudersport responded to a one-car crash where the driver barely escaped the collision.

Shortly after midnight Thursday morning fire and rescue crews sped to the crash scene on state Route 144 near Crossfork in Stewardon Township where the driver barely escaped.

Keith David Kneep, 52, of Phillipsburg, Pa., was driving south on Route 144 when, for unknown reasons, the 2001 Dodge pickup truck he was driving left the road on the west side and slammed into a tree.

The truck caught fire, but Kneep pulled himself from the vehicle and the Kettle Creek Emergency Management Services crew took him to the Crossfork Fire Department.

A helicopter airlifted him to an unidentified hospital from the fire department.

Police said Knepp had fractured his leg and was conscious at the crash scene. Any other details on his condition or injuries were unavailable this morning.

An investigation into the accident and its cause continues.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Otto Township Old Home Days

WESB News: 07/26/07 -

Otto Old Home Days This Weekend
Otto’s Old Home Days runs Friday thru Sunday in Otto Township. Otto Township’s annual Steak Bake is Friday night at 6pm. The pony pulls and lip-sync are Friday night too.

Saturday’s events begin at 8pm with a volleyball tourney. The kiddie rides and games open at noon. The Hero’s Scott Douglas will be broadcasting live beginning at 12noon Saturday.

Antique Engines Roar This Weekend In Port Allegany

From Port Allegany Online:

The twenty-eighth Annual Demonstration of the Allegheny Mountain Engine and Implement Association will be held July 27, 28 and 29
at their grounds located at 4783 Route 155 in Port Allegany. The grounds will open at 9 a.m. daily with the Tractor Parades at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Special Events include Senior Citizens Day on Friday which allows Seniors in for a $2 admission. On Saturday there will be a Kiddie Pedal Pull at 2 p.m. and a White Elephant Auction at 6:30. A church service will be held at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

A three-day pass is available for $5. Adult admission is $2.50; those 12-16 will pay $1.50 and kids under 12 will be admitted free. Admission includes a free souvenir show button.

Hercules built engines and related equipment will be on display as well as antique tractors, Hit and miss gas engines, large gas engines, threshing, shingle mill, model engines, blacksmith, stationary baler, craft displays. There will be a flea market, good homemade food and something for everyone!

The Allegheny Mountain Engine and Implement Association (AMEIA) was formed in 1975 to preserve the past for future generations to enjoy. The Association’s interests include five areas. They are oil field apparatus, agriculture implements, domestic items ranging from sewing machines to old washing machines, lumber industry equipment and road building equipment.

For more information go to

Harold Barnard took a moment from mowing the AMEIA grounds to pose for the R-A camera. Club members are busy getting ready for the Twenty-Eighth Annual Demonstration to be held July 27, 28 and 29. The public is invited to attend and see the antique engines, tractors, cars, trucks and models. There will be a large flea market area and crafts galore. Also available will be good, homemade food. The plan is food and fun for everyone. Photo/story - Pam Fischer

Items Recovered From Camp Burglaries--Is It Yours?

From Elmira Star Gazette:

State Police in Coudersport have recovered numerous stolen items recovered during cabin burglary investigations in Eulalia, Homer, Keating, Sylvania, Portage and Wharton townships and Austin Borough.

Owners of some of the property have not been identified and police are asking for the public’s assistance to determine ownership.

Burglaries took place from December 2005 through June 2006.

Anyone who was a victim of a cabin or camp burglary or theft in the above townships during the timeline and have missing items, is asked to call the state police at Coudersport at (814)274-9690.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brianne Downing--Du-bois, Wyoming

Du-bois, not Du-bwah.

I left off last night saying that today's ride would be a steady uphill; topo wasn't kidding.

Dave and Darcy were wonderful hosts, and they had great sleeping arrangements for us. Greg, Kyle and Marie slept on full size air mattresses, Sarah slept on a large comfy couch, Anne and Emily slept in twin beds and Chantel, Courtney and I shared a king size bed. I was the last of the three of us to head to bed, and was surprised to find the two on opposite sides of the bed when I got upstairs, leading me to have to climb from the foot of the bed, between the two of them, turn around and shimmy my way under the covers without waking them up. It was definitely a feat.

This morning, I slipped on the stairs and fell most of the way down. I hurt my lower back and my right arm (near my elbow), but Darcy was right on it and got me ice and calmed me down.

After breakfast and our cue sheet meeting at the park, several of us headed over to a local cafe for beverages. There, I ran into Nicole, the publications intern for NOLS I met yesterday. We chatted a bit about dog-sitting, dog personalities, dirty houses, other odd jobs and working for NOLS.

Once we left, Emily and I rode together until first lunch around mile 35. It was pretty much a gradual but noticeable incline until 2 miles to lunch, when we came across my favorite road sign signaling a steep downhill up ahead. My highest speed of the day: 42.8.

After first lunch, my arm became much more in pain, and it was very difficult at times to focus on the ride. I don't have very good balance (or coordination sometimes), so riding no-hands wasn't an option; instead, I rode much of the next 20 miles holding my right arm at my side or bent across my torso.

Katie stuck with me, as she'd hit a rough patch of gravel and took a tumble (or saw a pack of grizzly bears and fought them off, according to Marie's account). We rode in pain to second lunch, where we both iced our wounds. I took off a bit earlier than her, but stopping to take pictures of the GORGEOUS red rocks to either side of the highway and scoring free rice krispy treats from some travelers from Green Bay, Wisconsin (thanks Glen, Anne, Pearl and Berney!) allowed enough time for her to catch up.

We counted down the miles bit by bit, distracting ourselves from our pain by playing a round of Historically Bad Ideas in alphabetical order, until we finally reached Dubois around 4p or so. It was a long day, and we rewarded ourselves with ice cream from the gas station on the far side of the main drag.

Today's been a really long day, but the views were absolutely incredible. I took plenty of pictures, yet I doubt any will serve the Rockies justice. Tomorrow's ride will take us to Jackson, and we hear it's a tough ride: a steep uphill climb and then downhill the rest of the way. There's construction in two sections of the road, about four miles each. Tommy said the WYDOT crew will actually shuttle us through the construction work; Katie and I hope it'll be over the really steep parts. We're told that tomorrow's ride will have even more beautiful scenery, and we'll come up on the Tetons!

We have a build day in Jackson the day after tomorrow, so if my arm is still bothering me by then, I might go to a doctor to make sure it's not broken or anything.

Please keep the comments coming, head over to the Bike & Build route tracker and take a look at the mail drop schedule while you're there (I love mail!). If you're the praying type, please pray for healing!

Too tired to write much now, so I'm showing, not telling. Will have more details tomorrow, or the day after, upon arrival in Jackson (I can't WAIT)...

$1,000.00 Reward Offered For Arrest Of Cow Shooter

WFRM Reports:

A $1000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the wounding of several Holstein cows at a Hebron Township farm on a couple of different occasions over the past few weeks.

It’s not known what caliber gun was used but authorities believe the shootings occurred during daytime hours on property along the Dingman Run Road.

Anyone with information is asked to call the local barracks at 274-8690.

Man Bitten By Rattler At Asaph Sunday

From the Elmira Star Gazette--July25, 2007--

ASAPH -- A downstate man bitten by a timber rattlesnake Sunday while he was doing volunteer work for the state is recovering from his injury.

“It’s my understanding he’s okay,” said District Forester Roy A. Siefert. “I believe he’s recovering.”

Siefert declined to identify the man, after he asked workers not to release his name.

The 42-year-old man is a “conservation volunteer” and was working on habitat improvement for the Pennsylvania Forestry Bureau on State Forest land near Asaph, about 10 miles northwest of Wellsboro. He was working with another conservation volunteer.

The man was moving a large rock when the snake struck, hitting the man on his right hand, Siefert said.

His co-worker helped him out of the woods and drove him to the Ansonia area, several miles south of Asaph. Once there, the co-worker established cell phone service unavailable at Asaph and phoned a 911 dispatcher for help.

A Wellsboro Fireman’s Ambulance took the bite victim to Wellsboro and a Life Lion helicopter transferred him to Hershey Medical Center, where he was admitted.

The man is from Manheim, Pa., just northwest of Lancaster in Lancaster County, Siefert said.

Dangerous Plant Found In Potter County--Can Cause Burns-Blindness

Giant hogweed in Potter County (republished with permission)
Plant's sap can cause burns, blindness; officials work on eradication.
July 25, 2007
StoryChat Post Comment

Provided The large plants in the center of this photo are giant hogweed as seen near Little Kettle Creek in Potter County.
If you see it

•Pennsylvania residents who believe they have found giant hogweed can call the "hogweed hotline" toll-free at (877) 464-9333.

•New York residents can contact their county Cooperative Extension offices: Chemung, (607) 734-4453; Steuben, (607) 664-2309; Schuyler, (607) 535-7161; Tioga, (607) 687-4020.

Beauty is only skin deep.

Case in point: Giant hogweed.

The huge plant, which can reach 15 feet in height and produce flower clusters 5 feet in width, contains a chemical that causes severe burns to the skin. If the eyes are exposed, it can cause permanent blindness.

And it's here in the Twin Tiers.

"It's a very nasty plant," said Brett Chedzoy, a senior resource educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schuyler County. "It's very bad. And it's spreading. The sap is extremely potent.

"Some children here cut down some of the plants, and they ended up in the emergency room," he said. "It's not like poison ivy, where you get a rash for a couple of weeks."

Giant hogweed sap from the exposed stem or bruised leaves causes "muffler-like burns" that will blister and, when exposed to prolonged sunlight, will darken and cause significant scarring for months until they eventually fade.

Where it is and isn't
According to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, giant hogweed is found in more than two dozen New York counties, including Schuyler and Steuben -- but not Chemung.

Pennsylvania started the first giant hogweed eradication program in the Northeast in 1998 after finding a hot spot of infestations in Erie County. In Pennsylvania, it is primarily in the northern counties from Erie to Potter County. It hasn't been found in Tioga or Bradford County, but the highest-priority site in the state is a streamside infestation in Potter County.

Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources sprayed 800 plants this year in one stretch along Little Kettle Creek, near Carter Camp in Potter County. Officials are especially concerned about the stretch along Little Kettle Creek because seeds that reach the waterway can be spread over a vast area, and quickly, too. Each plant can produce more than 15,000 seeds.

"That area is the highest priority in Pennsylvania," said Melissa Bravo, an Agriculture Department botanist-weed specialist and Wellsboro native.

"We are very concerned with the site at Little Kettle Creek," Bravo said. "When it gets down in fertile soil, like the riparian area along Little Kettle Creek, in that nice black, rich soil, it really takes off.

"That infestation has probably been there a long while," she said. "It was only reported to us in 2003. We think it's probably associated with an old homestead in Carter Camp somewhere. Someone planted it, then over time the seeds dispersed down through the stream."

Specialist learns tough lesson in field
Bravo and five others sprayed the Potter County patch at Little Kettle Creek in late June. She advised the others to wear long sleeves and other protective clothing. She didn't take her own advice, and discovered firsthand how the burns feel from giant hogweed.

"I have small burns on my arms from the elbow to the wrist where I came in contact with the cut stems," she said. "My forearms are splotched with purple streaks and some obvious round stem indentations. Knowing how the sap reacts to sunlight, we (three of us ended up with burns) covered all the burns with Band-Aids to prevent any exposure to sunlight. That lessens the degree of discoloration. Still, it's been a month and you can still see the discolorations."

Despite the scope of the Potter County infestation, giant hogweed is pretty much under control in Pennsylvania, said Bravo, whose is the acting giant hogweed coordinator for the regional program and manages all noxious weed eradication programs for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

"The eradication program is working very well," Bravo said. "Our program is working so well, New York and other states are looking to model their program after ours. Ohio and Maryland began treating sites a few years ago, and New York is planning to start this fall. Once New York hires a field technician to begin treatments, I have offered to train them."

In Schuyler County, children land in ER
That can't happen soon enough for Chedzoy, new to giant hogweed and apprehensive about its future in Schuyler.

"I just came back (Friday) morning from a farm up in ... the town of Hector in the northeast corner of Schuyler County," he said. "We went out and sprayed a couple of patches of giant hogweed on a farm. At that point, the hogweed was already 10 feet tall.

"The farm belongs to Tatiana Stanton, who is the New York state goat specialist and a professor at Cornell. She pointed out to me several large patches in front of her driveway. It surprised me. It's really starting to spread out there.

"She said that her neighbors' children tried cutting some plants down last year and they wound up in the emergency room," Chedzoy said.

Most people are educated early-on about poison ivy, what it looks like and its potential danger, he said. Not so with giant hogweed.

"I'm a forester, and I guess I assumed that everyone could identify plants, but then I realized that's not the case," he said. "Probably a lot of people don't know hogweed from an oak tree. And this is much more serious than poison ivy.

"I'm afraid that if this continues to spread, people are going to unwittingly get into it, and the consequences can be severe."

Second-hand contact also poses a threat, he said.

"This stuff grows along the roadside ditches, and they get mowed, and the mower goes back to the shop and people work on it, and they come in contact with the sap," he said. "That's a bad scenario."

Northeast Steuben County a hot spot
The scenario in Steuben County isn't that great either, said Carl Albers, a Cooperative Extension educator.

"We continue to get calls on it," he said. "I got a call on it (last Wednesday). It's definitely here. It's established. No doubt about that."

Steuben's infestation seems to be centered in the northeastern section of the county, he said. And, like the others, he warned residents to be wary of any contact with the noxious weed.

"You should not mow it," he said. "Especially, you should not use a string trimmer on it and any type of brush cutter. What you need to do is find a glyphosate herbicide that is labeled specifically for controlling weeds in waste areas. That's what you need to use.

"The best way is to spray the plant and go back and check it in about three weeks," Albers said. "Because, quite often, you won't get everything the first time. You need to be persistent. Because it sets seed, it can come back another year. You've got to go back the next year and see if you have any plants coming up from seed."

Hogweed can be controlled, experts say
Chedzoy said it would take an aggressive campaign to eradicate hogweed in Schuyler County -- and elsewhere.

"It seems to be pretty widespread," he said. "It has been in the area for at least five years.

"It's on both public and private land," he said. "I think a lot of people have it on their land and don't even realize it.

"We should have been more pre-emptive about getting rid of this stuff when we had the chance. At this point, I would say that we are just going to have to learn to live with giant hogweed, because it's going to spread, and fast."

Bravo, who collects and analyzes the data on giant hogweed from all 15 states, disagreed.

"I think because it has been in New York a lot longer and is in more counties, it seems daunting at first and some infestations can be quite large, but on an acreage basis, giant hogweed in the United States is not widespread," she said. "In New York, there are only 325 sites in 28 counties. (Pennsylvania) has over 520 sites in 15 counties and our program is a success.

"A few of these sites in New York are fallow field infestations and quite large, but overall, from the data I have seen for New York, I think New York can contain and stop the invasive spread of this species if the program starts soon."

Our thanks to George Osgood of the Wellsboro Bureau of the Elmira Star Gazette for allowing us to republish this excellent article. It, along with the identification picture will let us watch out for this potentially devastating plant and report its location to the proper authorities. Editor.