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Susquehanna Life

Tim Palmer’s Williamsport Connection

Tim Palmer was a student at Penn State under Prof. Peter Fletcher. Fletcher owned a cabin on Pine Creek and, as part of Palmer’s studies, he did a water-based study and land use plan of the Pine Creek watershed.

“That work was used in consideration for Pine Creek to be evaluated for a national Wild and Scenic river destination in the early 1970s,” recalls Jerry Walls, former director of the Lycoming County Planning Commission.

That led to a Trout Unlimited grant for Palmer to implement the plan after Palmer graduated. Palmer gave a presentation on the plan at Lock Haven University and Jerry Walls was in attendance. “As Palmer put it, I walked up afterwards with an offer of a job,” said Walls. “It wasn’t quite that simple! I said we need an environmental planner. Are you interested?”

Walls hired Tim Palmer in 1971, and from 1972 to 1980 Palmer he worked for the Lycoming County Planning Commission.

“He did the environmental portions of the Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Plan, almost single-handedly—with input from Bob McCullough, a highly regarded environmental leader in Trout Unlimited and a fly fisherman,” said Walls. “The two of them got me to really understand all about environmental planning and considerations, open space protection and natural resource protection.”

Walls recalls that Tim would request extra unpaid vacation time to canoe and photograph rivers all over the country, and write about the rivers he explored.

“After five or six years, Tim came to me and said, I hate to tell you this, Jerry, but I have four contracts to write books with publishers, and I’m getting up at 3:30 and 4 in the morning and writing, coming home from work and writing until I’m exhausted. I just can’t keep doing that. I’m going to have to resign and devote myself full-time to writing these books. That’s what he did, much to my dismay,” said Walls.

By that time, Walls recalls, McCullough and Walls had prepared a strong county comprehensive plan, with special attention to the Pine Creek watershed, with rim to rim scenic viewshed protection.

“You go out west and see these big hotel complexes up on the side of the mountain, and it does impede the scenic view,” said Walls. “We didn’t want that. We wanted to keep the natural qualities of the Pine Creek Watershed intact, and that’s what we did. And it’s still enforced today.”

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