Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Stewardship: Bald Knob Work Day

November 28 was a great day for being outside - 50+ degrees, partly sunny, with a cool breeze.  Peter, Steve, Posie, Nancy, Beth, Paul, and Bob, helped Dave, the affable bearded Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Technician, remove unwanted and mostly invasive flora from 120 yards of former fence line along East Court Street in Rocky Mount.  

A large number of Subarus and a few other vehicles were parked in the field off East Court Street as their owners removed Chinese Privet, Ailanthus, Multiflora Rose, English Ivy, and various other non-native plant life.  By the way, if you think privet is a bush, it can easily be a 25 foot tree.  We tried to retain the native plants like Coral Bush, of which there were unfortunately few.  We also collected barbed wire and fencing that remained along the sight barrier.   Dave did most of the heavy cutting with an electric chainsaw, while BRFALers removed the less than tree-size invaders with loppers.  Chemical treatment will have to wait for later, but for now, the Chinese Privet is under “cultural” control.  

Some day, if our work proves effective, Eastern Red Cedars and Black Cherries will inhabit the entire stretch of land along the street and the invaders will be vanquished.  

It turned out that 5+ hours was enough for us (especially those who worked the entire time) and also for the chainsaw batteries.  A few of the 50 foot Ailanthus trees were left for next time.  

If you missed this opportunity, more will likely be coming your way in the Spring as we work with DCR to make the 150 acres of Bald Knob NAP a more natural setting for wildlife (yes, this means deer too) and the unusual mafic barrens denizen, the Fame Flower

by Paul P.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Autumn Dips!

It's time for Autumn Dips!  In partnership with Save Our Streams our chapter volunteers wade into local waterways to test the water quality.  Twice yearly, members work in small teams to test 17 stream locations around Franklin and Bedford counties. These streams are mostly Smith Mountain Lake tributaries. 

Why does water testing matter?  Volunteers calculate the number of living things, macroinvertebrates, in the local stream and calculate a health score, based on what they find. This information informs the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on which streams need further monitoring and attention. This project makes a real difference!

Chapter Member Geoff Orth leads the project and welcomes volunteers to join the effort. Email to express your interest.

For more information on Virginia Save Our Streams, visit

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Welcome Back, Elk!

Elk are being reintroduced into Virginia!  Yes I said “re-introduced”!  Did you know that elk are native to Virginia?  There is an ongoing effort to rebuild the elk population by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources on old strip mine reclamation property in Buchanan County.  You can visit and tour any one of 3 elk viewing stations.  

Between 2012 and 2014 a total of 71 adult elk and 4 calves were relocated into Buchanan County from SW Kentucky.  By 2020 the herd has grown to over 250. 

Elk was historically found throughout eastern North America, including Virginia. However, by the late 1800s, unsustainable hunting and habitat alteration resulted in the extinction of the eastern elk. The last survivor of Virginia’s original elk herd was killed in 1855 in Clarke County.

If you want to learn more about the program and tour the viewing area or even watch a live cam, please go to any one of the following links on the DWR website:

If you’re interested in free evening elk tours they will be offered weekly starting September 8th and continuing into October.

  • September: 8th15th22nd, and 29th. September tours begin at 6:00 pm EST.

  • October: 4th18th, and 25th. October tours begin at 5:00 pm EST.


Tours meet at Southern Gap Outdoor Adventures (1124 Chipping Sparrow Road, Grundy VA 24614).  Tours will last 2–3 hours. 

--Bob Rasmussen