Saturday, March 28, 2015

BRFAL Meeting at the Front Porch

Our monthly BRFAL meeting was graciously hosted by Smith Mountain Lake State Park officials Dave Gunnels, Cliff Goodwin and Jet Lawler at what is know as “The Front Porch”.  The Front Porch is in the Visitors Center and is in a small room set up for “down home” presentations on various nature and local history topics. 

 Dave, Cliff and Jet requested that BRFAL members consider being presenters on the Front Porch.  There are other volunteer activities available at the State Park as well including interpretive hikes and pontoon boat ride nature guide.  Our Kathy Scott agreed to be BRFAL volunteer coordinator for the State Park.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact Kathy.

 After a short BRFAL business meeting, Jet took us on a hike of the Turtle Island trail to show us how a trail interpreter conducts a hike in hopes that some of us would volunteer to conduct some hikes at the Park.

 Some pictures from our visit to the Front Porch and hike are shown below.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Successful Kick-off of Master Naturalist Speaker Series

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter (BRFAL) of the Virginia Master Naturalists held the first of a continuing series of lectures concerning our natural world open to the public and sponsored by the Smith Mountain Lake Association.  

Our first presentation was held on a rainy afternoon at the wonderful local attraction, the Booker T. Washington National Monument auditorium, on Saturday March 14, 2015.

Our guest speaker was Mr. Robert Jennings of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  Robert is a grassroots field specialist for the Blue Ridge, Piedmont and Valley regions of Virginia.  He works with the Virginia government officials in Richmond to advocate clean water policies.  His topic for the day was

Alter-NATIVE: the benefits of landscaping with native plants to beautify your property and reduce stormwater run-off

 Robert’s presentation lasted about and hour and a half was both very informative as well as entertaining.  We learned that by utilizing Virginia native species plants we can reduce watering and fertilizing needs since these plant grow here naturally.  Native species plants are deep rooted compared to turf grass and therefore hold soil in place to minimize erosion, while better retaining the moisture in the soil and trapping nutrients and sediment.

Robert suggested many native trees, shrubs and wildflowers that all provide the benefits mentioned above, but they also provide significant benefits to our natural species wildlife by providing both nourishment and habitat and all these creatures to survive heat, cold and drought. 

A number of brochures were available for our guests to take home with them.  We had to judge our day as a success. We had 55+ participants, gained lots of good information and had some good laughs to boot. 

So if this sounded interesting to you, mark your calendars for:

Our Water Wise event being held on Sunday April 12th from 1:00-4:00pm at the 4H Center to learn more about protecting our beautiful watershed.  

Also, our next speaker series at BTWNM is being held on Saturday May 16th to learn about our native bird species.  

Robert Jennings presenting to our knowledge hungry group
For more information about our BRFAL Chapter and VirginiaMaster Naturalists read our website you are on, or email us here.

We recommend a visit to the Booker T National Monument in Hardy Virginia, for more information click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kudzu and bamboo and privet! Oh my! New list identifies invasive plants in Virginia

National Invasive Species Awareness Week runs through Saturday
Can you identify an invasive species?
PR 02.25.15 RICHMOND — Virginians considering adding English ivy, golden bamboo or Japanese barberry to their yards may want to reconsider. These plants — and 87 others — are on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s new list of non-native invasive plants of the state
While the list is helpful to land managers and conservationists, home gardeners can use it to make wise decisions about landscaping. The list is for educational purposes only and has no regulatory authority.
“Planting anything on this list could affect adjacent natural areas,” said Kevin Heffernan, DCR Natural Heritage stewardship biologist. “Gardeners should think twice about planting anything that might be aggressive in their yard, especially if they live near a park or a forest.”
Invasive plants can displace native plant species, reduce wildlife habitat and alter ecosystems. They threaten natural areas, parks and forests. In the United States, they cost an estimated $34 billion annually in economic loss.
Invasive, non-native plant species typically:
•    Grow and mature rapidly.
•    Produce seed prolifically.
•    Are highly successful at germination and colonization.
•    Outcompete native species.
•    Are expensive to remove or control.
DCR Natural Heritage scientists used a risk-assessment protocol to determine an invasiveness rank for each species listed. Species were assigned a high, medium or low level of invasiveness in Virginia.
The list also includes species that may not be established in Virginia but are known to be invasive in habitats similar to those found here. These are referred to as “early-detection” species. If they are discovered in Virginia, the goal for these species is eradication to prevent their establishment and spread. People who spot these in Virginia should notify DCR.
One example of an early-detection species is wavyleaf grass (Oplismenus hirtellus subspecies undulatifolius). It’s been seen in nine Northern Virginia counties and has the potential to become widespread. A native of southern Europe and Southeast Asia, wavyleaf was first discovered in the United States in 1996 in Maryland. It ranks as highly invasive on DCR’s list.
Monitoring and preventing the spread of invasive plants is a major focus for DCR scientists and land managers. This work is often conducted with the help of volunteers. The Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan outlines challenges and strategies associated with combating invasive plants and animals. 
Many invasive plant species arrived as packing material or seed contaminants and became established. The spread of plants such as Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), kudzu (Pueraria montana variety lobata) and common reed (Phragmites australis subspecies australis) has wreaked havoc on Virginia natural areas.
Links to more information

Thursday, February 12, 2015

VMN Presentation at Booker T. Washington Monument March 14, 2015

Virginia Master Naturalist Presentation at Booker T. Washington National Monument

 The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is very pleased to announce the first in a series of guest speakers to present an interesting topic concerning nature which is open to the public.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How Waterwise is your landscape?


Mark your calendars now and plan to attend “Your Waterwise Landscape” a community education event from 1 to 4PM on Sunday, April 12 at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Center.
How Waterwise is your landscape?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Spring Basic Training Application

UPDATE: Due to a lack of applicants we are unable to hold the Spring 2015 basic training. Thank you to those who showed interest, we hope we can fill minimum for a class next time!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Do you DRBA?

Now's your chance!
DRBA First Saturday Outing Hike and Tour at Reynolds Homestead 

Feb 7, 2014
Reynolds Homestead
463 Homestead Lane, Critz, VA 24082
(GPS 36.640596, -80.146542)

Free and open to the public

Meet at Reynolds Homestead in Critz, Virginia for a one-mile loop hike and tours of the historic house and grounds. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2nd Thursday Science Talk at VMNH

2nd Thursday Science Talk at VMNH

December 11, 2014
Virginia Museum of Natural History
21 Starling Avenue, Martinsville, VA 24112 

This event is free and open to the public

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wood Duck Box Inspection at Smith Mountain Lake State Park

On December 3rd a crack team of wood duck box specialists from the BRFAL Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists was dispatched to the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake State Park with the mission of inspecting as many wood duck boxes as possible for any signs of wood duck residency (or any other critters), effect any minor repairs to the boxes and reconfirm GPS locations of the boxes.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birds of a Feather Flock Together!

We are thrilled to see that the BRFAL "Christmas for the Critters" tree not only got our vote in the Parade of Trees at Mariners Landing, but it inspired a family to follow suit!
They wrote:
After visiting and voting for the "BRFAL Christmas for Critters Tree" at the parade of trees our family came immediately home and decorated a tree right outside the dining room window.  We were quickly rewarded with a winter flock coming to dine."
Thank you Desnise P for sharing these photos and info with us, as it has made our day.
Please VOTE for our tree -  the birds will thank you, and we thank you!