of Chester County, PA

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Next Event
2015 Calendar - current list of programs, outings, actions and meetings for this year.

We have several programs, actions and outings that have not been scheduled yet. See a list of those things in the Environmental Issues and Outings sections


Jan 6 - Planning Meeting, John's Pizza, Frazer


Feb tbd - movie night



Apr tbd - Continuing event related to sustainable gardening

Apr 18 9am - 11am : Highway Cleanup

Apr tbd - tree planting, Earth Day Week







Oct tbd - Fall Banquest



Also check the event calendars of our friends at: Southeastern, PA Group, 4CP, Southern Chester County Land Conservancy, PA Chapter of Sierra Club

Local Environmental Issues - our volunteers are tracking and combatting threats to our water, air, land and food

Want to join one of these teams? Contact the leader. Volunteers welcome.

Sustainable Food

Leaders: Mary Ciarrocchi, Mike McGrory

Outline: TBD

Suggested Actions: tour of Kimberton Hills, Volunteer day at Dale's, WCU perma-blitz

Pipelines & Pumping Stations

Leader: Bernie Greenberg

Outline: New Chester County Pipelines - Though there are already many pipelines in Chester County, some quite old, a controversial new pipeline is planned by Sunoco Logistics named Mariner One. This pipeline will run from the Marcellus Shale in northern Pennsylvania wells to a Marcus Hook refinery and subsequent export. This pipeline will run through several townships in Chester County and will carry a derivative of natural gas-NGL, which is more combustible and odorless making a leak detection more difficult.

The State of Pennsylvania does not regulate intrastate pipelines and the PUC (Pennsylvania Utilities Commission) has ruled that the new Sunoco pipeline is a public utility not subject to local township ordinances. Several coalitions have been formed to impede the new pipeline including the 3C coalition (Chester County Community Coalition) based in West Goshen which has directed their efforts toward blocking the expansion of Sunoco's high-pressure pumping station and flare stack at Boot Road and route 202, which is an integral part of the new pipeline. This coalition may resort to legal action to achieve their goals. Another coalition also based in West Goshen has focused on property rights.

Mariner One is only one of many new pipelines proposed for Pennsylvania. Sunoco has two more in the planning stages and it has been estimated that 40 billion dollars of new pipeline construction will take place in this state over the next ten years. The safety of the new pipelines remains a serious concern. Leaks of highly combustible, odorless products could represent a serious threat to the health of our citizens and the preservation of our environment, including the purity of the streams and rivers through which the pipelines will cross. Proper planning will be essential to ensure protection and adequate funds must be made available to detect and control leaks. These funds could come from proposed impact fees which the pipeline operators would be subject to.

The Sierra Club will work to ensure that our community's health and environment are protected in the planning, regulation, and implementation of any new pipelines.

Suggested Investigations: Emergency preparedness, are some pipeline proposals better than others?, allied groups, allied legislators


Leaders: Susan Charkes, Jim Wylie

Outline: Chester County residents depend on conventional cars to get around. For example, over 80% of residents’ work trips are in single-occupant vehicles. [chesco.org] This reliance on conventional gas-powered vehicles contributes significantly to air and water pollution, traffic congestion, sprawl, climate change, impaired physical and mental health and the illusion that we need more highway lanes.

There is a better way — in fact, there are many better ways. We will explore, educate and advocate for increased use in Chester County of multiple alternative and supplemental transportation modes such as bicycles, electric cars and light rail, and we will encourage ridesharing and continued expansion of pedestrian and bike trail networks as well as public transit routes.

Suggested Actions: panel discussion on status/challenges of public trans (train, bus, shuttle), where does the money go: highways

Zero Waste Experiment

Leader: Eva Wylie

Outline: Can the Wylie household produce zero landfill waste in a month?

Suggested Actions: try it, document challenges and results, make a presentation to the group.


Leader: Bob Bruckman

Outline: TBD

Suggested Actions: support FAC actions, field trip to a fracking site

Water Quality

Leader: Leslie Siebert

Outline: TBD

Suggested Actions: water testing of streams, tap, bottled water; threats to aquifers

Oil Trains

Leader: Peggy Hartzell

Outline: TBD

Suggested Actions: document the Bakken oil trains stressing local infrastructure – increased risk of catastrophe in populated area

Outings - our team is planning adventures and outdoor education all around Chester County

Outings Team

Susan Charkes leads most of our hikes, some with associated lectures/discussions about the history or qualities of the regions that we explore. If you have suggestions or want to help Susan plan future outings, please contact her at susan@susancharkes.com.

At our 2015 planning meeting we came up with this list of potential outings. We'll add them to the calendar when we nail down the dates.

  • Tour of Kimberton Hills
  • Hike in Sadsburry Woods
  • Hike/Tour of The Great Marsh
  • Highway Cleanup - Rt 30 between Lowes and Rt 100

See Calendar for currently Planned Outings

See What We Have Learned for info about past Educational Outings

In the past couple of years we have explored: Cheslen Preserve, Stroud Preserve, Okehocking Preserve, Horse Shoe Trail, Binky Lee Preserve.

What's The Buzz? - Twitter and FB feeds from Sierra Club outlets
Southeastern, PA Group Facebook Feed

Phila area Beyond Coal Campaign Tweets

PA Environmental Digest

PA Chapter Tweets

Sierra Club National Tweets

What We Have Learned - some notes and slides from past programs

Things we have learned in recent programs:

Nov 2014 Program:
Permaculture Garden Tour

Thanks to Mike McGrory for organizing both the permaculture program last March and the garden tour in November at Dale Hendricks' house. We had a great turnout - about 20 people - for the walk around Dale's property which is filled with small gardens, from seadlings to mature plants, a greenhouse and an outdoor kitchen and bio-char station.

Please see the links below for the follow up documents from Dale's event.

May 2014 Program:

A great presentation by Annemarie Cantrel on the science, psuedo-science, lack of transparency and regulation and credible testing, conflicting test results, reluctance to label, farmers fear of going against industry sead giants and local legislation that takes some small steps to inform the public about what we are buying and eating.

Annemarie has graciously offered to share her presentation with us. Download it here.

March 2014 Program:
Sustainable Suburban Gardening

Melissa Miles and Tom McGlynn

On March 6th we hosted a timely presentation on the topic of sustainable gardening led by Permaculture designers Melissa Miles and Tom McGlynn. Tom and Melissa provided a background on permaculture gardening and demonstrated that if we employ design principles modeled after nature, we can increase our garden's yield while greatly reducing maintenance. Specific topics covered were building swales, managing weeds (e.g. If you can't beat it, eat it!), guilds, and perrenial vegetables. We even learned practical ways to prevent deer ticks (building a woodchip barrier, attracting their natural predators).

The presentation was enjoyed by 30+ gardeners of all experience levels, and great connections were made. Please see below for a copy of the presentation and a handout with some very useful info. The club will be hosting a follow up event in August for a tour of a mature Permaculture garden. Be on the look out!

Permaculture Presentation, Mar 6, 2014

Melissa Miles
Two Miles Micro-Farm
Eastern PA Permaculture Guild)

Tom McGlynn
Feed the Burbs

Book Report - Walking To Listen - podcast

This is the first in what hopefully will be many reviews and recommendations of books, films, audio books or podcasts that our members have "read" and would like to share their experience - good or bad.

"Walk To Listen" is a audio podcast documentary about and by a young man who, after graduating from college, had a crisis of purpose - what should he do with the rest of his life?

To help find the answer, Andrew Forsthoefe decided to walk across the country. 4000 miles, with a backpack and a tape recorder (ok, probably his smart phone) and listen to the stories of the people that he met. And he met a lot of people. A fascinating story and stories within the story.

Jim summarized the podcast at our Feb meeting, and played some excerpts and handed out free copies for anyone that would like to listen to this 50 minute walk-a-log.

Community Supported Agriculture

Our April meeting was about CSAs - Community Supported Agriculture. Randell Spackman, from Thornbury Farm and CSA spoke about the history of his farm and how CSAs work in general.

Dan Cellucci talked about the community garden he has helped to build at the Melton Community Center and how his organic restaraunt, Roots Cafe in West Chester, uses foods from the garden as well as the Thornbury CSA, and contributes to the composting system.

Bring your questions about CSAs, community gardens and food scrap composting.

Native Plants of the Northeast

Guest speaker Claudia West from North Creek Nurseries educated the group at our March, 2013 meeting about gardening with native plants and tips for having a successful garden.

The resources Claudia recommended are:

  • NatureServe Explorer Website
  • Plant Communities of Pennsylvania - pdf a DCNR publication
  • Bringing Nature Home - By Douglas W. Tallamy, Foreword by Rick Darke - Timber Press
  • Invasive Plants - by Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman - Amazon
  • Native Plants of the Northeast - by Donald J. Leopold - Amazon
  • Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve - brochure

Forward On Climate - Rally in DC

45 thousand of Americans gathered on February 18, 2013 in Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Include about 500 people from the Philly area and local Sierra Club volunteers. Despite the cold and wind, we joined together to voice as one our opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and demand action to combat climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Birds in our Backyards

Guest speaker Steve Saffier Director of Audubon @ Home gave a great presentation at our December, 2012 meeting about the Great Backyard Bird Count. Stay tuned for more info as the date for the nationwide count gets closer.

Steve recommended these books and resources during his talk:

Movie Nights - invite the Sierra Club to show a film and discuss at your venue.

We have a collection of DVDs about current regional and global environmental issues. We would be happy to bring the film and lead a discussion about the issues. [Some film distributors require showing rights, but usually if the group is no more than about 20, this is not a problem.]

Here's our current lineup:

  • Chasing Ice (climate change) - trailer
  • The Dinner (sustainable food) - trailer
  • Wisdom to Survive (climate change and faith) - trailer
  • Green Fire (Aldo Leopold's land ethic) - trailer
  • Lines of Evidence (climate change) - watch
  • Food Inc. (where our food comes from) - trailer
  • Flow (water quality) - trailer
  • The Last Mountain (mountaintop removal coal mining) - trailer

Contact Jim (jim.wylie@verizon.net) with film viewing requests.