Thursday, October 12, 2017

Correction: 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist Basic Training Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter

The article below describes the upcoming 2018 Virginia Master Naturalist Basic Training being offered by the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter.

2017 Virginia Master Naturalist Basic Training--Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN) program is accepting applications for the 2018 Basic Training class from now until January 15, 2018, or until the class is filled.

Training is held on Monday evenings beginning February 12 through the end of April. There will be three Saturday field training workshops, March 24, April 7 and April 11. Graduation will be held on Saturday April 28. An abridged class schedule is included below.

The VMN program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. The BRFAL Chapter has projects in Franklin, Bedford and occasionally Patrick counties. In addition to providing volunteer services, VMN’s participate in ongoing education and citizen science activities to further their knowledge and experience.

Who can participate? People who are curious about nature, enjoy the outdoors, and want to be a part of natural resource management and conservation in Virginia are perfect candidates to become Virginia Master Naturalists. VMN is open to all adults regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

To learn more about VMN and its chapters, visit . To learn more about the BRFAL Chapter and its projects, visit or contact us:
Phone: 540-365-4613 email: or snail mail to: P.O. Box 42, Wirtz, VA 24184

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BRFL VMN 2018 Training Schedule
Welcome and Introduction
Lecture TBA
Navigating the VMN/VMS
Naturalists Report
Risk Management
Lecture TBA
Lake and Stream Ecology
Lecture TBA
Lecture TBA
Forest Management
Lecture TBA
Geology, Soil Geomorphology
Lecture TBA
Geology and Soils
Field Day
Stream Ecology
Plant Identification, Taxonomy
Lecture TBA
and Nomenclature
Naturalists Report due
Environmental Presentations
Lecture TBA
Journals Due
Field Techniques for
Field Day
Observing Nature
Birds and Insects
Field Practical Exercises
Field Day
Leave Open for Possible Make-Up

James River and American Chestnut (right) from citizen science data collection site on BRP

Bald Knob Stream Clean Up

Department of Conservation and Recreation Sponsor Ryan leading training session

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Public Lands Day Natural Area Preserve Guided Hike

I was recently able to take advantage of a chance to see Piedmont mafic barren and the rare Piedmont fameflower.  September 30 was Public Lands Day in Virginia, celebrated by Natural Area Preserve Guided Hikes. Colin Huber from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) led a small group up Bald Knob in Rocky Mount.

According to DCR’s description, “Bald Knob is one of the most significant conservation sites in the Piedmont and is known for the largest occurrence of Piedmont fameflower on Earth. Because of its exposed rock and poor soils, few plants survive on the rocks, giving visitors a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape.”

The beautiful day did not disappoint! The five of us took a botanist’s pace to the top of Bald Knob to be greeted by stunning blue sky views in all directions. Fruiting prickly pear cactus, bluecurls and fameflower were the prizes to be found at the top. We were also able to collect some remains of fireworks and other trash from the site.

Thanks to Colin for a fascinating outing and for all the support DCR gives BRFAL. What a great resource (pun intended)!
Smith Mountain on the horizon

Fruiting prickly pear

Bluecurls (trichostema dichotomum) against hat brim

Fameflower, too early in the day to open

Vistas all around! 

Photo credits

Photos #2-5 in the article below are credited to BRFAL's own Rich B, photographer extraordinaire, and whose beautiful morning on the river photo won  First Place Overall at the 2107 VMN Annual Conference and Training in Front Royal, VA last month. Congratulations, Rich, and thank you for all the beauty you add to our lives!

Monday, October 9, 2017

BTWNM Native Grass Restoration Project

The Booker T Washington National Monument (BTWNM) native grass restoration project is progressing! On 9/18/17, chapter members Guy, Paul P., Rick, Jean, Charlotte, Rich and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) sponsors Ryan and Collin assessed the success of various seed mixtures in this year’s test plots.  

Seed mixture success was described by identifying and estimating the coverage of various species found within each test plot. This is the first time I have participated in this particular project and I was pleased to learn how to identify several native grasses and some common weeds that had been nameless to me before.

Yes, there were many more species than the native switch grass you see in the first photo. It only looks as if it is swallowing all others. I am happy to report that we did not lose any chapter members during this event; at least none have been reported missing.  

Next steps for native grass restoration are being identified by the project team, so get in on the action while you can. What is it they say about the excitement of watching grass grow? Don’t believe it! This was an intriguing way to spend a Monday morning and made a contribution toward restoring native grasses in the BTWNM fields. 

How many naturalists can you find in this picture?

Guy getting down to it

Instruction and planning the attack

Each test plot measures 1m x 1m

Ryan ready for BTWNM or for any savanna!