Geography of Craft


map of the bioregions relating to the Delaware River and its tributaries, including portions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and Maryland (from The Encyclopedia of Earth)

As a woodworker, I make a habit of studying the bioregion for site specific projects to get a sense of scale and context, with an eye towards material provenance, land use and ecology. In preparing for my residency at Mildred’s Lane, I was pleased to find a detailed atlas of the bioregions affecting the Delaware River and its extensive tributaries at the website of The Encyclopedia of Earth. Mildred’s Lane is within the Lower Catskills bioregion, the dark green area at the Northeastern corner of Pennsylvania where it borders New York (top right of the above image), described by The Encyclopedia of Earth website as follows:

62e. Low Catskills
The Low Catskills (62e) is a forested and highly dissected ecoregion less than 5 miles (8 km) wide in northeastern Pennsylvania. Here, the Delaware River has deeply entrenched into the glaciated Appalachian Plateau, creating cliffs and steep-walled valleys. Many high-gradient tributaries occur and stream organisms associated with riffles are common. Topography is rugged for this part of the commonwealth and local relief ranges from about 450 to 800 feet (137-244 m). Crestal elevations are from approximately 1,300 to 1,800 feet (396-549 m) and are high enough to insure a short growing season of about 130 days, varying according to local topography and slope aspect.

The soils of Ecoregion 62e are mostly Inceptisols. Most formed on Olean Till and some developed on Quaternary alluvium. They overlie nearly horizontal, Devonian age sandstone, siltstone, and shale of the Catskill Formation. The soils are characterized by stoniness, shallowness, low fertility, and acidity, which, together with the rugged terrain and brief growing season, make the area best suited to woodland (Higbee, 1967). The natural vegetation was mostly Northern Hardwoods (dominants: sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, and hemlock) (Cuff and others, 1989, p. 52). Some wetland vegetation occurs on poorly drained sites, and northern rock plants grow on the Delaware River cliffs in northeastern Wayne County (Erdman and Wiegman, 1974, p. 50).

The boundary between Ecoregion 62e and the less dissected Northeastern Uplands (60b) occurs at the forest density and topography break shown on the Scranton Ecoregion 62e extends across the Delaware River into New York, where it becomes much more extensive. 1:250,000-scale topographic map; Ecoregion 62e is much more rugged and wooded than Ecoregion 60b