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On the rise: Deer, flooding, Solebury Sustainability Forum attendance


Climate and sustainability worries are growing in Solebury judging by the doubled attendance at the second township forum on weather changes held April 4 at New Hope-Solebury High School.

Solebury’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) held its first forum at the school in 2022 when some 40 residents attended. “Quite a success” said township Supervisor John Francis, EAC liaison.

Looking out on a crowd of some 80 residents at this year’s sustainability forum, Francis grinned, “Tonight’s turnout is even better, I see.”

Noting that while the township “can certainly take additional steps to go greener in the municipal complex, an analysis (indicates) that we can accomplish less than 2% of the energy savings that our residents and businesses themselves can do on their own.”

He highlighted several measures the township is taking to achieve sustainability:

• Undertaking a review of ordinances to remove barriers to make farming sustainable by helping make it profitable;

• Increasing public knowledge about the township’s volunteer-run watershed associations, which are “watchdogs to help maintain and improve the quality of our water, which is very important as most of us are on well water. Never before has this been so important as we grapple with extreme climate events.”

• Solebury should “continue to monitor the New Hope Crushed Stone Quarry on Phillips Mill Road and the Primrose Creek that runs through it. “This continues to be challenging as the state Department of Environmental Protection takes the lead to ensure it is sustainably restored...”

Also on hand was Solebury resident Neale Dougherty, director of sustainability for Bucks County.

Dougherty warned about climate change because “we’re getting more water than we can handle.”

In addition, that brings a new problem called micro-bursts. These are intense rains on a small targeted area that call for localized storm water management.

As if high water and weather woes were not enough, Eric Allen, EAC chairman, brought up Solebury’s deer problem.

“Deer. We have nothing against them,” he said, “but we have too many of them. We have 77 deer per square mile. They bring lime disease, destruction of undergrowth in forests and then what you’re going to see is Arizona (no trees).”

Allen said the township needs more property owners to sign up to allow hunting on their properties.

More than 30,000 pounds of venison has been donated to local charities since January 2021, he said.

Additional sustainability woes were dealt with last year when the township banned single-use plastics, such as supermarket bags.

Supervisor Christie Cheever, a former EAC member, said the move was necessary because the lifespan of a plastic bag is 1,000 years, they kill 100,000 marine animals a year, and one bag is used for an average of 12 minutes.

The effort to reduce environmental degradation extends to New Hope-Solebury High School’s Environmental Club which plans an Earth Day and Electric Vehicle Festival April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school.

Four members attended the Sustainability Forum to discuss the club’s environmental efforts, which have included a canal cleanup, fundraising, gathering school energy data and reducing waste at school.

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