Monday, August 31, 2015

Blitz to Hungry Mother

Meg and I blitzed down and back to Hungry Mother State Park today, but why?  

Well we had never been to this park before and we heard a lot of good things about it.  But that's not why we went. We went because our VMN Regional Conference is going to be there and Meg and Dick LeRoy will be giving a training session on how to plan a large event for Master Naturalists. They will use our WaterWise event as a model and as part of the training they will conduct a mock buffer landscape visit at the lakeside. 

So we walked around a bit and found a likely spot. 

While walking & driving around I managed to snap a few pix at HM. Hope you like them.

Monday, August 17, 2015

BRFAL Picnic Festivities

Yesterday at about 4:00 pm about 20 BRFALers, spouses and children convened at the Franklin County Recreation Park for our annual picnic.  Kathy Scott & my better half, Meg Brager organized the event and did a fine job. The pavilion was decorated with crepe paper and balloons and the table covered with table cloths and festooned with wildflowers.  Kathy brought various tree branches for an impromptu tree identification contest which was won by Todd Fredricksons son Neil shaming us old Master Naturalists.

But of course it wouldn't be a picnic without some good grub.  In addition to the provided hamburgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs, our members brought a variety of tasty side dishes.  I don't think anyone went home hungry.  I know I sure didn't. 

Even better than the food was the evident camaraderie shared by the likeminded folks that comprise the BRFAL chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists and their families.  I think you can see it in the faces In the pictures below.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Virginia Master Naturalist program welcomes new sponsoring agency

Virginia Master Naturalist program welcomes new sponsoring agency

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 3, 2015 – The Virginia Master Naturalist program — a statewide volunteer training and service program providing education, outreach, and service to better manage natural resources and natural areas in Virginia — welcomes the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Center for Coastal Resources Management as its newest sponsoring agency.

Based in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, the Virginia Master Naturalist program started in 2005 with financial support from five sponsoring agencies: Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the state departments of Conservation and Recreation, Game and Inland Fisheries, and Forestry. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was added as a sponsoring agency in 2010. Program volunteers actively were engaged in that department’s Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program, a collaboration that has strengthened over time.

“We are excited to have the Center for Coastal Resources Management join our growing network of sponsoring agencies and partnering organizations around the state,” said Alycia Crall, statewide coordinator for the Virginia Master Naturalist program. “With a rapidly growing program, we continue to look for ways to diversify our funding support. The center’s contribution will further support that growth and advance the mission of our program, as well as that of the center throughout the commonwealth.”

The Center for Coastal Resources Management develops and supports integrated and adaptive management of coastal zone resources. To fulfill this mission, the center undertakes research, provides advisory service, and conducts outreach education, including Master Naturalist training courses for coastal and estuarine ecology and management in collaboration with other Virginia Institute of Marine Science departments.

“Supporting the Virginia Master Naturalist program is a logical extension of our outreach efforts,” added Center Director Carl Hershner Jr. “There is a growing need for educated citizens to support various local and state government initiatives aimed at restoring the Chesapeake Bay and adapting to climate change. These volunteers are well positioned to serve the commonwealth in these roles, and we look forward to helping make that happen.”

Karen Duhring, the center’s outreach and training coordinator, will represent the agency on the Virginia Master Naturalist program’s steering and executive committees. “The annual Virginia Institute of Marine Science training classes for Master Naturalists have been well received and are a pleasure for us to conduct,” she said. “Expanding our relationship as a sponsoring agency will allow us to connect the program to more continuing education courses and opportunities. We are also willing to assist any chapter interested in developing citizen science programs related to coastal and wetland issues.”

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography. As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech serves the Commonwealth of Virginia in teaching, research, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

From article here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Happy Birthday Guy

In order to honor our first and past President of BRFAL, Guy Buford, on the occasion of his 85th birthday, we managed a little surprise birthday party for him at our BRFAL board meeting last Thursday. 

We are pretty sure Guy enjoyed it.  What do you think?
 Happy Birthday Guy!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Welcome to the Front Porch at Smith Mountain Lake State Park

The BRFAL Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalist are participating in some informative talks on great topics on the Porch at Smith Mountain Lake State Park:
  • Sat. June 6 Dick Leroy SOS/CoCoRaHS 10am - 11am AND 12-1pm
  • Sat. June 13 Rick Brager  VMN/BRFAL 11am - 2 pm
  • Sun. June 14 Jim & Denise Pilversack Eastern Box Turtles 2pm - 3pm
  • Thurs. June 18 Rick Watson Water Quality Sampling 11am-11:30 AND 1-1:30pm
  • Sat. July 11 Rich Brager VMN/BRFAL 11am - 2 pm
Mark your calendars and come to Smith Mountain Lake State Park for a hike, a swim and spend some time on the front porch. Click here for more events at this beautiful Virginia State Park.

Monday, April 27, 2015

BRFAL Master Naturalists at Boones Mill Elementary's Earth Day

On Wednesday 4/22 Boones Mill students participated in a series of school-wide educational Earth Day activities  Activities included outreaches presented by the VA Museum of Natural History; Smith Mountain Lake State Park-Park Naturalist; Cooperative Extension and BRFAL Master Naturalists.
Students interviewed said that their favorite activity was the "Turtles of Virginia" presented by BRFAL's Denise and Jim Pliversack

Other activities included: Water Cycle; Litter and Wildlife; and Recycling. The Recycling exhibit was designed and created by the school's Student Naturalists - Green Team.  The event was organized by BRFAL's Victoria Keenum

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mr. Kevin Heffernan Addresses BRFAL Chapter about Virginia Invasive Plant Species

On the evening of April 16, 2015, Mr. Kevin Heffernan, DCR Stewardship Biologist was kind enough to travel down from Richmond (this was his second visit to us) to update us on the latest Virginia Invasive Plant list and further educate us on the importance of controlling these plants.  He described the difference between “non-native” and “invasive species", the main factor being that invasive species cause harm to our environment.  Of ~30,000 plant species introduced to North America over the years, ~500 are considered invasive and of those 90 are in Virginia.  For more detailed information, please visit  Kevin's presentation was informative and entertaining.  Thank you Kevin.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bat conservation is theme of Virginia Cave Week, April 19-25

Shellie & Dick working on a hands on project for Caves and Karst previous training
Date: April 08, 2015
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292,
Bat conservation is theme of Virginia Cave Week, April 19-25
RICHMOND — Virginia’s rich cave heritage will be celebrated during Virginia Cave Week, April 19-25. Activities include tours of a wild cave in Giles County, an opportunity to see a bat up close in Front Royal and a trash cleanup at a one of Virginia’s many karst landscapes in Bath County.
Virginia Cave Week is coordinated by the governor-appointed Virginia Cave Board. The board was established in 1979 to conserve and protect the state’s caves and karst landscapes, and to advocate the wise use of cave-related resources. 
More than 4,000 caves have been documented in Virginia. They provide habitat for rare and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat (Virginia’s state bat) and the Madison Cave isopod. 
Karst landscapes are characterized by caves, springs, sinkholes and sinking streams. In Virginia, these landscapes occur in 27 counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thousands of Virginians depend on karst aquifers for drinking water.

April 19
Cave Week Kickoff
1-4 p.m.
Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Ave., Front Royal, Virginia

Learn about bat conservation with the Front Royal Grotto and theSave Lucy Campaign, a nonprofit that educates about the effect of white-nose syndrome on North American bats. This event will include educational displays, a bat craft and, between 1 and 2 p.m., the chance to see a live bat.
Trash Cleanup
10:30 a.m.
Aqua Campground, Bath County, Virginia
Free, but requires registration
The Butler Cave Conservation Society is sponsoring a trash cleanup at this karst site. Bags and disposable gloves will be provided. Sign up by contacting Nathaniel Farrar at or 540-315-2643. Driving directions will be provided upon registration.
April 22 and 23
Under the Earth Day Cave Tour

Giles County, Virginia
Free, but requires registration
Take a guided tour of New River Cave, one of Virginia’s largest wild caves. Owned by the National Speleological Society, New River Cave contains nearly 8 miles of mapped passages and many unusual cave formations. Staff with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and VPI Cave Club members will lead participants through the front section of the cave. Learn about bats and other cave inhabitants and the relationship between caves and water quality. 
Participants must wear long, durable pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy footwear. Gloves are recommended. Bring water and a snack. Helmets and lights will be provided. Trips will depart from and return to Newport, Virginia, and driving directions will be provided to those who register. It is a steep, half-mile hike to the cave entrance.
Space is limited, and registration is first-come, first-served. Register by calling Faye McKinney at 804-225-4856. Tours will run April 22, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and 5-10 p.m., and April 23, 1-6 p.m.
For more information about Virginia Cave Week, including teacher lesson plans and virtual tours, visit
For more information about Virginia’s cave and karst resources and to see sites on the Virginia Cave and Karst Trail, visit

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.