Michael Kensinger and his group, the "Friends of Tipton Wetlands" have been working on habitat improvements to several local wetlands which he refers to as the Tipton Wetlands.
Two of the three sites are wetland mitigation sites which were constructed by PennDOT when the remaining section of I-99 between Hollidaysburg and Tyrone were completed in the mid 1990's.
The district office has approved several requests from members of the Boy Scouts to incorporate trails, educational signs and benches to these sites over the years, with the primary purpose of enhancing the educational opportunities for the public at the wetlands.
When the wetlands were constructed and planted, PennDOT installed some nesting structures to improve the wildlife habitat in the short term until the site matured and nature could provide nesting areas. Nearly 30 years later, many of the wooden nest boxes have deteriorated. While the trees are maturing and do provide some habitat, it never hurts to add nesting structures for species such as birds, ducks, owls and bats.
Michael is doing the habitat improvement work through an Adopt and Beautify Agreement, which is a legal agreement that allows groups or members of the public to conduct approved "beautification" projects on PennDOT Property and Right-Of-Way.
These types of agreements are typically used for planting flower gardens or dramatic entryway gardens to communities. The Adopt and Beautify program was modeled after another successful program, the Adopt-A-Highway program in which groups agree to conduct litter pick up along state routes several times per year. Both programs have the litter pick up requirement and both provide signage recognizing the group's efforts.
Michael's request is rare but not unique (we have a similar arrangement at a wetland in Huntingdon County), however, it is much appreciated as he is doing the community a great service by improving the natural places that we are fortunate to have in central Pennsylvania.
Any habitat improvement work is usually demanding in terms of labor and time and the recipients can't say thank you. I am certain the wildlife appreciates his efforts to provide nesting sites and remove litter from their habitat.