Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nature Expo Coming to Booker T Washington National Monument October 18, 2014

A playful encounter by BRFAL Certified Master Naturalist, Charlotte Hubbard, during a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. VMNH is one of several State sponsors of the Master Naturalist Program.

Attention nature lovers!  Mark your calendars.  There will be a Nature Expo at Booker T. Washington National Monument on October 18, 2014 from 2-4 PM. 

There is never a fee to enter Booker T Washington National Monument and no charge for the Expo. Parking is also free.  Free coffee and snacks will be available.

This event is being put on by the local Blue Ridge Foothills And Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program. This statewide program trains volunteers to participate in projects related to the conservation and management of natural resources and public lands.

At the Expo you can learn more about BRFAL and how to become a Certified Master Naturalist. There will be displays providing information about several projects that BRFAL members have been and still are participating in.

Some of the topics these projects cover include: local precipitation measurements, a remote camera study of local forest mammals, several water related projects, tree identification, bluebird monitoring and much, much more.

In addition to BRFAL members, the Chapter Advisor from The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Ryan Klopf will display information about Natural Area Preserves. State Representatives of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program will be invited. 

The goals of the Expo are to raise public environmental awareness, inform the public about BRFAL activities and encourage interest in becoming a Certified Master Naturalist.

Consider coming earlier that Saturday and taking in the exhibits, restored buildings, vegetable garden, farm animals, trails and streams that are always available at BTWNM. Directions can be found here.

Plan to come out and see what Master Naturalists do and learn how to become one! 

If you have any questions, please contact us at 540-365-4613 or email: BRFAL.VMN@gmail.com 

Friday, September 12, 2014

BRFAL Hike at Douthat State Park

Thanks to our great chapter coordinator Ryan Klopf who is with the DCR and his co-worker, Adam Christie who is DCR-DNH Shenandoah Valley Region Steward, a number of our intrepid BRFAL chapter members (and one Roanoke chapter member) got treated to a guided hike to see and learn about the first ever controlled burn that was conducted this past Spring at Douthat State Park.

 Controlled burns may be conducted for a number of reasons, but if you want to find out more about this particular controlled burn, please follow this link: http://www.virginiaoutdoors.com/article/more/3518.

 Our hike lasted a couple of hours and we lucked out and managed to stay dry even though the forecast called for rain storms to blow in.  I have included some pictures below.  The first picture shows an area that was burned and the next picture shows an adjacent area that was not burned.  The difference is rather dramatic. 

 Controlled burns are often conducted every 5-8 years.  Ryan and Adam explained the reasons to conduct controlled burns, the dangers associated with them and the safety precautions taken to ensure everyone comes back safely.  We should be very grateful to have the brave folks who perform this service.

 Everyone enjoyed our hike very much and we all left a little smarter about controlled burns.  That didn’t stop a number of us from stopping in Clifton Forge for some solid and liquid imbibement. 
                                                          Controlled Burn Area
                                                             No Controlled Burn

                                                                    Intrepid Hikers
For additional information about the Mountain Region Natural Area Preserves contact: Ryan Klopf, Mountain Region Steward, Department of Conservation & Recreation Division of Natural Heritage Roanoke, VA (540) 265-5234 

Or to learn more about Douthat State Park click here.

Have you ever seen anything like this in the woods?

Dick LeRoy shares: While conducting monthly water quality sampling at Booker T. Washington National Monument the morning of September 8th, four BRFAL members came across this Star Trek-looking substance on a log near the stream. 

It was about 5 inches across and 2 inches thick in the middle, with the consistency of a firm jelly. 

After gently prodding it and verifying that it was not an animal, at least not a responsive one, we took a few photos and went on our way. It seems that we had encountered a jelly fungus, perhaps Dacrymyces palmatus (Orange Jelly) based on an internet search. 

Believe it or not, it is considered to be edible. (No, we didn’t try it!)

Calling all mycologists, care to share your i.d.?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Raptor Season is upon us

The raptor fall migration season runs August through November, and the observatory tower at Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory, located about 15 miles from White Rocks WV, affords visitors the best chance to see eagles, osprey, hawks, and other raptors. 

Located in Monroe County, West Virginia at an 
elevation of 3812 feet

Be sure to check out their privy, it’s listed as having the “best view from an outhouse” in the book Way Out in West Virginia. The hike to the tower takes about 30 minutes and there is no fee. Directions can be tricky, recommend reviewing their directions page carefully.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Our neighboring The Southwestern Piedmont Chapter in Martinsville VA are offering a training for aspiring VMN's.  


Deadline for class registration is July 31st. August 1, 2014
The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is designed to train volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources. Basic Training Course/Certification Classes meet Tuesday nights ( & a few weekend field trips) and begins August 12 and ends in early December. Classes are held at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville.

From Lynn P: Here's a link to the online application for training classes which begin in August. Deadline to apply is August 1.http://www.vmnh.net/content/File/VA_Master_Naturalists/southwesternpiedmont_application.pdf

Friday, July 11, 2014

Advanced Training Op on July 23rd at 7-8pm

Local Virginia Master Naturalists, their family and friends will be among the hundreds of groups and organizations around the world participating in the third annual National Moth Week, July 19-27. 

This global event will celebrate the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths, encouraging “moth-ers” of all ages and abilities to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. 

You are invited to attend this free celebration at the Smith River Complex on July 23rd at 7-8 pm is the ADVANCED TRAINING. (Updated to show Advanced training is before the rest of the night's events)

An evening event for family members of all ages!
Event Coordinator: Lynn Pritchett, Certified Virginia Master Naturalist

Show and Tell items on display by Phil McDonald include live captive-bred moths, an emerging summer brood of Luna Moth cocoons, and some Polyphemus Moth caterpillars on Pin Oak tree leaves and Moth and Butterfly display cases.

Dr. Joe Keiper, entomologist and director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, will also be there as a guest presenter. He’ll shine black lights on white sheets at the canoe launch near the riverside to lure even more moths to capture and photograph.|

Butterfly nets will be provided for the public to borrow.

Wednesday, July 23at 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Smith River Sports Complex
1000 Irisburg Rd, Axton, Virginia 24054