POLLINATOR MEADOW GROWING

Almost spring and time for an update on the Park pollinator meadow project. As posted earlier, thanks to a grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, and the hard work of a lot of other people, the Park is building a pollinator meadow on a 1.4 acre plot between the RV camping area and the Park cabins. This gentle hillside contains marginal soil, collected when the cabins were built, which is perfect for wildflowers.

In fall 2018 the meadow was cleared, the trails were rough graded, and a parking area built. Park rangers and volunteers seeded the area and by October seedlings were visible.

As an unexpected but very welcome addition to the project, in March students from Virginia State University and Wake Forest, as part of the alternative spring break program, will spend time making benches and tables for the meadow.

By spring the field will have been turned into a flowering wildflower habitat and feeding area for many species of pollinators. A pollinator is an animal that fertilizes plants by moving pollen from one flower to another. Insect pollinators include bees, wasps, ants, flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, and beetles. Without pollinators many plants and foods would not exist. Pollinators are critical in the reproduction of many major food crops, including Virginia staples, apples and grapes. Other wildlife like rabbits, turkey, and deer can use the seeds and insects for food and can use the tall grasses for shelter. The meadow will also feature a bee habitat. Bees that help with pollination will have hives in the meadow that can be viewed by Park visitors. The hives will be protected from bears and other predators by electric fencing powered by a solar panel. There will be interpretive signage along grass trails and tables and benches that will allow opportunity for rest and study.

The meadow, originally proposed by Park manager Tony Widmer, became possible when the Garden Club of Warren County proposed that the Park apply for a grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, which has accumulated a fund dedicated to projects in Virginia State Parks. With help from the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park, the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah, and Park staff a plan was developed, submitted, and funding was approved.

Stay tuned for more news as the meadow grows.

HUGE GROUP OF HEALTHY HIKERS WELCOMES 2019

Over 200 two-legged, and dozens of four-legged, hikers joined to celebrate the New Year at Shenandoah River State Park on a warm January 1. Most of the largest ever 1st day group at Shenandoah hiked the shorter Cullers Overlook trail while a smaller group hiked several trails ending at Wildcat Ledge. All were treated to cider, hot chocolate, and other treats by the Park’s Friends group.

The Park has over 24 miles of trails available to you. Make that “be healthy” resolution for the whole year – and put January 1, 2020 on your calendars now.

NEW 2018 JUNIOR RANGERS

Wow – it was a very busy two weeks and Shenandoah River State Park has a a great new team of Junior Rangers. We kicked off with a visit from a Shenandoah National Park Ranger who gave us lots of cool, and useful, information about our Chesapeake Bay watershed and what we can do to make it better. With the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries we became friends with many of the fish that inhabit the South Fork of the Shenandoah, and what about that huge eel. That was amazing!

 

A highlight this year was a trip to nearby Skyline Caverns. Not only was the information about cavern growth and karst really great, but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery and the cool 54 degree temp. A welcome change from 85 outside.

We spent a day on the River observing what lives in it and nearby, and – you bet we managed some good fun.

The Park has its own waste treatment plant and our campers spent a morning learning how we are able to turn waste into pure water and return it to the River. The Park’s “Poop Lady” astounded us with microscopic views of little squiggly things that actually eat the waste – ugh.

Graduation is a fun time shared by campers, parents, and staff.

The Junior Ranger Day Camp is sponsored jointly by the Park and the Friends. We also have a self-guided program where pre-teens can become Junior Rangers. Just ask at the Park Visitor’s Center. We are already looking forward to next years camp and hope you will join us. Check back here in the spring for more information.

NEW FRIENDS ALWAYS NEEDED

Do you love the outdoors? Would you like to help preserve our natural environment while doing things you really enjoy?

The Friends of Shenandoah River State Park invites you to share our love of Andy Guest / Shenandoah River State Park.

Each year we spend time improving the park, helping with programs for visitors, and helping to improve the environment. We are always looking for new faces and fresh ideas.

The Park has many great opportunities to help – pick ones you would enjoy. Assist with the Junior Ranger program – conduct trail inspections – help with the annual river cleanup – assist with the Parks wild animal habitat – help develop a river interpretive trail – and many more! If fact, you can probably design your own way to volunteer. Check out opportunities on our Volunteer page. We hope to see you at the park!

FRIENDS WIN IN PHOTO CONTEST

Congratulations to Friends members Hannah Bement and Karen Fall for

Pastel Clouded Sunset – Karen Fall

wins in the Shenandoah Chapter, Virginia Master Naturalists, 2017 photo contest! Hannah took 1st place in the VMN in Action category for her “Viewing an Egg Mass” and Karen won 3rd place in the Landscape and Habitat category with her “Pastel Clouded Sunset” taken at Abrams Wetland Preserve in Winchester. Karen commented that she “was stunned by the pastel colors in the clouds, and the way the late afternoon sun coming through the lower clouds made it look like there was a forest fire. Unforgettable”  CONGRATS!

 

 

A LLAMA ADVENTURE

On Sunday, May 21st, Friends spent an afternoon at Twin Creeks Llamas.

A selfie with Prince

Our adventure began in the barn where we learned about llamas, where they came from, how to read their body language, and what those ears are saying. Yes, they do spit, but we where surprised as to when and why. We took a walk with Santiago, Coffee Bean, Pete, and Prince along the creeks and through the woods. We stopped along the way for a cookie and lemonade break and hand fed the llamas a special treat for a job well done. Each person had an opportunity to harness and lead the llamas.

The Parkmans have lots of options for a fun and informative day. If you are interested in a great family adventure, contact them at twincreeksllamas.com.