Friday, November 17, 2023

Tree Exploration at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park

Exciting news for Master Naturalists and Smith Mountain Lake Community Park! The DCR Tree Identification Signage project has extended its roots to the North Shore segment of the scenic loop trail.  Volunteers Eric and Paul have labeled 23 tree species, featuring a diverse range, including seven types of oak. For two species, hemlock and white pine, 6x6 posts display the ID tags since only small examples exist.


Special thanks to Parks Manager Ben Newbill and Franklin County for their enthusiastic support, including purchasing the ID tags, and ensuring this project thrives.


To see the tagged trees, take the entrance road past the beach to the far parking lot. Follow the path toward the fishing pier, and just before reaching it, turn left at the North Shore Trail sign.  This segment spans approximately 3/4 mile, treating you to stunning lake views and a midway bench for relaxation. The entire park loop, spanning 1.75 miles along the shoreline, promises a nature-filled adventure. 


Don't miss the chance to learn about the beautiful trees gracing this picturesque trail! 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Better at Bald Knob

Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) members and Jimmy Francis of DCR won a small victory against privet at Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve in Rocky Mount this week.  

BRFAL members spent a cold morning removing the invasive plant from East Court Street's northern side using loppers and saws. To prevent regrowth, they painted the stumps with herbicide. They also cleared trash from the roadside and removed barbed wire fencing. 

Despite the chilly start, the day turned sunny and rewarding. Their efforts saved native plants like redbuds, black cherries, and hackberries smothered by privet thickets. Upcoming tasks involve further privet removal, as privet disrupts native ecosystems, choking native flora and fauna. 

Thanks to these members, things are looking better at Bald Knob!

For more information on Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve, visit 

Bald Knob Natural Area Preserve (

For more information on the damaging effects of privet on natural areas, visit: 

fslisi.pdf (

Monday, October 30, 2023

Leaf Catching, Lunch & Learn


Members of the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes chapter met at Ferrum College for a hike led by Dr. Bob Pohlad and Dr. Todd Fredericksen.  It was a sunny but windy fall morning.  Sourwood, maple, and hickory trees had turned brilliant yellow and red.  Fallen leaves were blowing around in big bunches and despite multiple attempts, several members and Todd, in particular, were unable to catch them.

Bob and Todd walked us along Ferrum’s Nature Writers Trail near Chapman Pond.  According to a 2022 article that appeared in “The Iron Blade” (Ferrum’s student newspaper), students from the Recreation Leadership program designed and built the trail over a period of eight years.  The development also involved faculty from the English, Biology, Environmental Science and Art Departments.  As we walked, Bob explained that the trail is marked with signs featuring quotes from 12 nature authors who were inspirational to the faculty.  The signs also contain a QR code that directs hikers to a library resource page with more information about the trail and the authors.  This ‘lib guide page’ can be found by clicking on:

In addition to telling us about the trail, Bob and Todd showed us and talked about all manner of fungi, moss, lichen, lycopodium, ferns, and changing tree leaf color.  We also spotted a resident Great Blue Heron near the pond and Todd found a barn spider which he explained is the title character in E. B. White’s Charlottes’s Web—circling back nicely to the subject of literature!

Thank you Bob and Todd for a very pleasant and interesting hike.  And thanks to all who brought food for our delicious picnic afterward.

Submitted by Beth P.