The Blue Ridge, Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) local chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists (29 chapters strong across the state) recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary. The 100% volunteer organization has logged some 290 8-hour days each year in pursuit of its mission of providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas centralized around Smith Mountain Lake. Work is accomplished by the dedicated volunteers creating and pursuing local projects that support the mission, many in concert with the seven Virginia agencies that sponsor all state chapters. Some key projects out of the 30 that have been created are: ECO camp where many school aged children get the benefit of an outdoor, hands on, interactive fun educational experience with nature, supporting chestnut restoration in the Blue Ridge by helping to plant and then monitor over a 1000 trees across the area, native grass restoration and bluebird monitoring projects at the Booker T. Washington National Monument, Smithsonian eMammal wildlife camera trapping at Carvins Cove, K-12 youth day camp support at the Claytor Nature Center, Save our Streams water quality monitoring sponsored by the Smith Mountain Lake Association in all the areas main tributaries and site clean-up at the recently created Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve in Rocky Mount, site of the rare Piedmont flameflower. The chapter also hosted the Master Naturalist Statewide Conference in 2016, bringing over 200 visitors to the W. E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center. BFRAL founding president and the longest-lived continuous member, Guy Buford says, “Helping to create BRFAL and participate in the Virginia Master Naturalist program has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.” BRFAL will hold training classes for new members in late winter and early spring. If you are interested, visit their website at http://brfal.blogspot.com .
Extra tasty cake provided by outgoing BRFAL President Kathy Scott