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.