With perfect weather, about 150 hikers, and numerous four-legged friends, started 2020 right with a healthy walk followed by refreshments at Shenandoah River’s visitors center. We find it hard to keep a good count because more and more hikers are coming both before and after the set time – they miss the picture but it’s a good way to avoid the starting jam while still enjoying the outdoors. We’ll be back next year but stay healthy and plan to hike often. We have over 24 miles of trails through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.
A great turnout for our annual South Fork river cleanup on Sunday, September 22 – 37 folks on the river and another half dozen on the land crew. As usual, we pulled an amazing amount and assortment of trash from the stretch between Indian Hollow bridge and the Park.
A beautiful day to be on the river. This is always a fun event and a chance to really help our environment. Thanks to Front Royal Outdoors and Downriver Canoe Company for use of canoes, thanks to Park staff for hauling everything to the transfer station, and special thanks to all who participated. We’ll be back next September – those canoes are waiting.
It was a GREAT two weeks and Shenandoah River State Park has two new teams of Junior Rangers. We kicked off learning about pollination and pollinators, especially bees. A visit to the Parks new 1 acre pollinator meadow and bee habitat allowed some close up study.
A big treat was a visit to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center where we got to see what a fantastic job they do with rehabilitation of injured animals. It was the first time most of our campers had been to the new facility.
A highlight every year is our float down the South Fork learning and having fun. Due to slightly high water, the first week we went in rafts. The second week we returned to tubing.
Graduation day was filled with Ranger Megan’s great presentation on snakes and sessions on Leave No Trace, both of which the campers really got into.
The Junior Ranger Day Camp is sponsored jointly by the Park and it’s Friends group. The Park also has a self-guided program where pre-teens can become Junior Rangers. Just ask at the Visitor’s Center. We are looking forward to next years camp and hope you will join us. Check back here in the spring for more information.
By Friends President, Richard Fox
The Blue Bell Trail along the river just upstream of the Canoe Landing parking area has been upgraded. The trail has been rerouted a short distance up the hillside from the old trail, which closely followed the small stream coming off the river just above the Canoe Landing. The old trail regularly flooded during heavy rains and high river levels. The new trail will keep hikers high and dry! It’s amazing how much dirt and tree growth was moved while leaving the natural beauty of the area intact. The river bank is still accessible from the new trail, and the old trail now is blended into the wooded area.
Many thanks to Park Rangers Riese Painter and Travis Wyman, as well as the Youth Conservation Corps volunteers, for all their hard work. Come try out the new trail and enjoy one of everyone’s favorite scenic pathways in the Park!
Summer is here and it’s time for another 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 has installed 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 2019 students from Virginia State University and Wake Forest, as part of the alternative spring break program, spent time making benches and tables for the meadow.
In May the bee habitat was added. Solar powered electric fencing was constructed to keep out bears and two hives were installed. Our beekeeper, Kelly, reports that the bees are happy, healthy, and making honey. Flowers abound and its only the early birds. By fall – wow – come and see! Our upcoming Junior Ranger program will feature a day with the meadow and our 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, 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.
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!
Congratulations to Friends members Hannah Bement and Karen Fall for
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!
On Sunday, May 21st, Friends spent an afternoon at Twin Creeks Llamas.
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.
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 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 sharongfisher.zenfolio.com