A walk on the City of York, Pa.’s, wild (life) side
Richard Bentzel is seen in this piece of paradise on the edge of York City – an area of Veterans Memorial Park that has been designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Also of interest: Memorial Stadium, now Bob Hoffman Stadium, built to keep professional baseball in York and Brooks Robinson – and stories about his York, Pa., pro debut – enduring and Great Balls of Fire, York’s Memorial Park to spin back to 50s and Opportunities in York County to feed your sense of discovery.
“It is an urban oasis.
“Would you expect to find a clear-running stream, muskrats and foxes in York city?
“This sliver of Eden is near Veterans’ Memorial Park, at the edge of York.”
That’s Yorkblogger and York Sunday News columnist Gordon Freireich’s description of Richard Bentzel’s wildlife refuge.
Actually, it’s a public wildlife habitat that Bentzel has curated for years… .
In his York Sunday News column on July 25, Freireich tells about the habitat, explaining that Bentzel has been funding the feeding of the animals at this recently designated Certified Wildlife Habitat out of his own pocket.
York Rotary recently put $100 up to feed the habitat’s wildlife and gave him its Charles S. Wolf Service Above Self Award for his efforts.
Here are excerpts from Gordon’s column:
Richard Bentzel of York city has worked for nine years to have the area, which runs for several linear acres, declared a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
Richard discovered this once-again pristine area by accident; he followed a lost dog to the area, hoping the dog would lead him to its home. The dog led him to the area off of Edgar Street.
When he came upon the tract, he said “it was a dump.” Literally. But more appalling to him was what he saw: Someone had speared one of the ducks that lived there with a bamboo pole, stuck the pole in the ground, and left the dead animal suspended there. That sight motivated him to take action.
He cleaned up the litter and began taking food to the animals he found there.
And it was an amazing variety of animals: foxes, skunks, groundhogs, chipmunks, muskrats, raccoons, ducks and other wildlife you would not expect to be “city animals.” Various trees overhang the seasonal pond and the ancient, rounded boulders in the stream, named Poor House Run.
Richard has been providing the vegetables and feed to the animals — each of which he has named — at his own expense.
And he continued to pursue his campaign to have the area recognized as an official habitat. Richard is meticulous when it comes to details. Before he retired, he said he was a “fabricator,” in the truest sense of the word. He worked with fabric as an independent contractor making draperies, bedspreads and slip covers.
Richard is proving that one person can make a difference in the local environment. By saving a small patch of land in York city, he is doing his part to preserve the planet.
The major concern he expresses is: Who will take care of the animals after he can no longer do so?
Richard deflects the attention he has received for his wildlife habitat campaign and years of work. “It was really the duck that I found there” who deserves the credit, he says.
Also of interest:
Individuals or businesses interested in assisting Richard to provide food for the animals can contact him at 843-3508. Contributions are not tax deductible.