MIDDLESEX TWP — It may have been a school night, but Thursday evening's Community Conservation Night at Glade Run Lake drew many local families.
With food vendors, kayaking and a presence from the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, members of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy were able to remind people of something very important.
“We haven't gone away,” said Siggy Pehel, president of the conservancy board. “We need your help.”
The idea to have a community event started with the concept that the conservancy wants to reach more people, according to new board member Karlee Holmes.
Hoping to attract more group members and spread the word about what the conservancy does, visitors were asked to participate in an “email drive.” By providing their email, they were entered into a raffle.
Some lucky person went home with a prize basket. The conservancy also added several new names to its correspondence list.
“We want to be seen,” Holmes said.
For popcorn vendors Arlene Fusko and Nikki Logsdon, it was a good night for business. Between the weather and the community interest, business was popping.
“It's been very pleasant,” Fusko said. “This has been a real bonus.”
Fusko and Logsdon, who work for Popped Envy out of Sarver, said the nice thing about food trucks and food stands is they can operate with social distancing. They're also outside.
“It's hard to do anything when you're so restricted,” Fusko said.
Opening the event to food vendors worked on a few levels, according to Holmes. It was a good way to draw visitors. It also helped raise money for the lake.
“All the food trucks are giving back a percentage,” Holmes said. “(And when) better than right now — during a pandemic — to have food trucks? It's a good way to social distance.”
That money will go directly toward developing the lake — specifically, its watershed.
There's about 2,000 acres around the lake that feed into it ecologically, according to board member Becky Miller. Preserving those ecological feeds has been a primary focus of the group.
“We have been doing water quality monitoring,” Miller said. “So, we don't have a big problem (later) and say, 'Why didn't we see this coming?'”
Miller said so far, the conservancy has talked to about 20 people who own property within the watershed about ways they can preserve the area through conservation easements.
The conservancy in September voted to work with Allegheny Land Trust to protect the watershed. One of the next steps for the group is to educate the public on different types of easements and what they mean long-term, according to Miller.
“Just (so they) know that there are other options out there,” Miller said.
Once secured, conservation easements stay with a property forever. Miller said about 90% of the people the conservancy has talked to have shown an interest in knowing more about them.
Regardless of whether the lake is able to expand in years to come, residents are enjoying it as is. Jim Bridgeman and his family stopped by the lake Thursday night for dinner.
“This is one of our favorite spots,” Bridgeman said. “We come here at least once a week.”
Bridgeman said the lake's been particularly important to his family during the pandemic.
As of Thursday, the conservancy is selling lake “swag” for the next three weeks. According the Holmes, this is a new campaign launched to help the group raise money. Information about buying some is available on the conservancy's website.
Overall, Holmes said she and her colleagues hope to grow public interestin both the lake and the conservancy.
“People know the lake's here,” Holmes said. “But they don't know our group's here.”