Millbrook Marsh Nature Center
Funding assistance for developing this website was provided by
a Wetland Program Development Grant from United States E.P.A.
website does not contain information about the operations,
programs or activities
To educate and inspire people about the natural world, and to instill a passion for the environment through science, history, culture and art.
The Overall Goal:
To protect, restore, and enhance the biotic, abiotic, cultural and scenic values of the site, and to promote public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of this heritage. Priority will be given to the protection of the wetland and stream ecosystems.
Marsh Nature Center
is a 36 hectare (62 acre) area that includes riparian zones, palustrine emergent wetland, palustrine scrub-shrub wetland, calcareous fen, upland borders of early successional brush and forest, and pasture and farmland interspersed with woody hedgerows, surrounded by residential, commercial, agricultural, and University land use. The calcareous fen is one of the largest in Pennsylvania, despite having been reduced from approximately 2.5-3 hectare to about 1 hectare. The hydrology of the site includes a high water table with areas of persistent saturation, seasonal flooding and ponding, and numerous springs. Slab Cabin Run, Thompson Run, and two branches of Bathgate Spring Run flow through the site. Some springs flow first through limestone bedrock resulting in alkaline conditions at the surface. Vegetation changes over the past 50 years include disappearance of some native species of special concern, and discovery of others, in addition to an invasion of non-native species. For more information about the ecology of Millbrook Marsh, please view A Natural History of Millbrook Marsh: A Wetland in an Urbanizing Setting (a thesis by Cheryl J. Lipton, Landscape Architect, MS).
Millbrook Marsh, like other wetlands, performs many functions that are important to society in general, such as improving water quality, recharging groundwater and providing natural flood control, as well as supporting a wide variety of fish, wildlife and plants. In addition, it serves an educational function exhibiting the interactions and interdependencies inherent in any ecosystem. Education is one of the most important elements for effective wetland protection. By introducing the public to the ecological and sociocultural values of wetlands in general, and Millbrook Marsh in particular, the need for strong protection and restoration efforts can be appreciated and embraced. The fact that the marsh is central to a rapidly growing community provides the region and state with an outstanding opportunity to develop a model for preservation of a unique ecosystem within an urbanizing setting. It provides the vital function of filtration of the massive loads of urban runoff that are directed into the streams of Millbrook Marsh before flowing into Spring Creek It must also, though, be protected from urban runoff in increasing quantity and decreasing quality. It moderates flooding which would otherwise be more severe. In addition to the benefits it provides the State College area, it provides critical habitat to several uncommon aquatic plants, with as many as ten species of special concern being reported for the site since its discovery. Therefore, its functions and educational potential should be realized, while at the same time, it is protected from encroaching development with all of the ensuing impacts.
The 62-acre site is leased from Penn State University to the Centre Regional Recreation Authority (starting in 1997). The Authority, through Centre Region Parks & Recreation, is responsible for developing and maintaining the property as a regional nature center. A conservation easement is maintained by the Authority for 50 acres of the tract with ClearWater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania Inc.
Those considering research or monitoring
on the property should first contact:
Ronald J. Woodhead, Director, Centre Region Parks & Recreation, or
Dr. Robert P. Brooks, Director, Penn State Cooperative Wetland Center
and submit a Research Request Form for Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.
Advance approval is required for all research projects.
From Route 26 East in College Township, travel
towards the Nittany Mall, turn left onto Puddintown Road (across
from Your Building Center Inc.).
Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is approximately 1/4 mile on the right. Look for a green and tan Millbrook Marsh Nature Center sign and the large barn with a green roof.