On Sunday, March 19 Hannah Bement lead a walk to view the Park’s natural and man-made vernal pools along the Cottonwood Trail and to discuss their value to our ecosystem. A vernal pool is a form of temporary, freshwater wetland that contains water for a portion of the year and supports an array of wildlife and plants, some specially adapted for these habitats and many being rare species in Virginia. The Park’s vernal pools provide habitat for the Spotted Salamander, the Jefferson Salamander, Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, and many others.

Hannah Bement is a science teacher at Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal. She has degrees from the University of Akron and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science. She is a member of the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists and our Friends group. Hannah loves being a teacher, working with children, and working to make our environment a better place. She is presently volunteering with the Virginia Vernal Pool Monitoring Program.



In February the Friends hosted a nature photography workshop with penguins local photographer Sharon Fisher.

Sharon shared some of her beautiful work from both near and far. She spoke about basic nature photography principles and about how digital cameras work.

This well attended program generated so much enthusiasm that a likely outcome will be the establishment of an ongoing nature photography program in the Park. If you would be interested let us know through “Contact” and check back here for details coming soon.

You can view some of Sharon’s fantastic work at


Join the Friends – and those hovering around – at a Halloween campfire at Shenandoah River Statecampfire2 Park. Friends Jinny Fox and Brian Bennett will share some seasonal tales and invite you to share any of yours. We will have smores and more. Meet at the campfire circle at the tube takeout near the RV camping area at 7 PM on Friday, October 28. Easy walking distance from the RV campground and cabin area. Bring a folding chair or blanket, no seating is provided at the site. If you are driving, turn into the gravel road just past the RV campground marked “authorized vehicles only” and bear right. Parking is very limited.  {In case of rain, we’ll be in Shelter 3 in the day use area.} Bring a flashlight for the walk home – if you dare walk in the dark. Fun and maybe even scary!

Rafting on the River

Gundalow, circa 1880. (The Shenandoah River Atlas)
Gundalow. (The Shenandoah River Atlas)

At a special February meeting of the Friends Patrick Farris, Director of the Warren Heritage Society, spoke about commercial boating on the Shenandoahs in the 1800s. Remarkable rafts, called gundalows, were used to transport goods on the river for many years before the railroad was built. Patrick’s presentation was informative and filled with his special humor. Visit the Heritage Society, 101 Chester St., Front Royal, to learn more about our great Valley.


Savannah, Jake, and Jinny take a break. (Photo: Warren Sentinel)
Savannah, Jake, and Jinny take a break. (Photo: Warren Sentinel)

Jinny Fox, Secretary of our Friend’s group, and family dog, Jake, have another life. Jake is a 6-year-old Golden Retriever adopted by Jinny and Dick in 2012. With his gentle temperament and love of people, it became obvious that Jake was suited to becoming a “therapy dog.” After completing training, Jake now visits local elementary schools where children practice their reading skills by reading to him. Once a month he also participates in a youth reading program, Books and Barks, at Samuels Public Library in Front Royal. Children find it easy and fun to read to dogs, and Jake knows how to put them at ease with his goofy smile and relaxed persona. Jake also loves senior citizens who always enjoy his visits. Thanks Jake and Jinny for sharing and caring.


Secretary Harvey, Secretary Layne, Governor McAuliffe, Friends members Brian & Tom
Secretary Harvey, Secretary Layne, Governor McAuliffe, Friends members Brian & Tom

Governor McAuliffe and the members of his Cabinet were guests of our Park in early April. They got to stay in our (almost) new cabins and to enjoy some beautiful weather – high 70s, lots of sun, and no bugs. Park staff, DCR staff, and the Friends worked to make the visit memorable, providing meals, entertainment (well, we didn’t actually provide the March Madness final, but what a game!), and even a campfire and s’mores. There were many comments on the beauty of the Park and we know everyone enjoyed the chance to spend some time relaxing in our Treasure.


If you didn’t get to visit the Park while it was on display at Samuels Library, we also had a display at the Front Royal / Warren County Visitor’s Center on Main Street. [We kept the tube so that we can get back on the river.]IMG_1184

But Spring is really the time to get out to the Park itself. Flowers start to show, the vernal pools are full, and the trails are dry.

Don’t forget our Spring planting for Earth Day – Check the 2017 page for dates this year – see you there.




Andromeda - Shenandoah Astronomical Society
Andromeda – Shenandoah Astronomical Society

In March Shenandoah Astronomical Society members presented an outstanding program on identifying some major constellations and stars. We heard about the Society and its activities, including the frequent star gazing nights in our Park – check the Park schedule or the Society web page for dates. The Society serves the northern Shenandoah Valley promoting astronomy as an educational and recreational activity and has activities at many Valley locations –


At the Friends October meeting George Mason University students Ashley Palmer and Mimi Fuerst gave a great presentation about their semester at the Smithsonian- Mason Conservation Studies Program and their internships at the Park. Students today have many opportunities to get out of the classroom and to have hands-on experience in their study areas. Ashley and Mimi help Park staff with conservation and educational programs – what better place than our beautiful 1600 acres?

Ashley and Mimi at the October Meeting
Ashley and Mimi at the October Meeting

The collaboration between GMU and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) at Front Royal immerses students in an active research community, where they live and work side-by-side with scientists and scholars from both the Smithsonian and the University. The program was established by SCBI and GMU to aid the Smithsonian’s global effort to conserve species and to train future generations of conservationists. Learn more at