September 23, 2010

SOS Weekend at Lake Anna State Park

SOS (Social Outdoor Service) Weekend @ Lake Anna State Park  
November 5 – 7, 2010

This is a event for our chapter to get together for SERVICE, Advanced Training, and social time. (FUN!) We hope you come and enjoy the entire weekend, but if you cannot - come for part of the activities. You are welcome to bring friends and family. Lake Anna State Park is located in Spotsylvania County 45 min from Fredericksburg.

Service: At least 4 hours of Service opportunity approved toward your 40 annual hour requirement. (Service TBD by LASP but may be Trail Maintenance.)

Training: Bird walks by Donna Finnegan, Forestry by Harry Puffenburger. Geology of Lake Anna session by Gilmer and Lassister. These are approved as advanced training hours.


Campsites STD $24/ $30 ELEC, and small “Campcabins” w/ electric (up to 4 persons) $45 per night. Make your own reservations. Details and reservations are online @ or call 1-800-933-PARK.

Bunkhouse: LASP has offered their group bunkhouse to us: a small but efficient log structure which will serve as VMN CENTRAL for the weekend. It has a KITCHEN and a DECK - but note bathhouse facilities are a short walk. There is a separate room with 4 bunks for men, and the main room with 10 bunks for women.

For Bunkhouse only call or email Donna Finnegan and NOT the above reservations. $10 per person per night – first come first served & may be upper or lower.


Food: Bring your own requirements but there will be simple breakfast (Coffee and bagels) and dinner (Hamburger/Hotdog) fare available to share with all in the bunkhouse. Gas Grill on the deck. Bring coolers and drinks.

Tentative Schedule:

Friday - Check in. Night walk to beach for stargazing, looking for owls and bats.

7:30-8:30 Birding Walk
8:30-9:30 Breakfast/cleanup
9:30 to 11:30 Forestry Walk Tree Identification
11:30 - 1pm Lunch and cleanup
1:00-4pm Geology with Amy Gilmer and Bill Lassiter (special park event) Bedrock in Lake Anna State Park includes metamorphosed volcanic & intrusive rocks that are mapped as part of the central Virginia volcanic-plutonic belt.. William Lassetter, an economic geologist with Virginia Division of Geology & Mineral Resources, Charlottesville will discuss the various rock types found in the Park, & the nature of mineralization at the historic Goodwin gold mine. Sturdy walking shoes & hand lens magnifier loupe are recommended
Evening - dinner and cleanup . Possible campfire.

7:30- 8:30 Birding Walk
8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast/Cleanup
10 – 2pm SERVICE PROJECT TBD (pack a lunch)
3pm checkout

Feel Free to Call or email Donna Finnegan if you have any questions or concerns. 540.895.9261

June 23, 2010

2010 Training Class

Upcoming Master Naturalist Training

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Virginia Master Naturalist. The Central Rappahannock Chapter will be holding a training course from August-December 2010. The purpose of the training is to prepare participants for volunteering as Master Naturalists in our community. Though it is an excellent training opportunity, our purpose is for establishing a base of natural resource volunteers.

An Orientation/Introductory class will be held on August 9th at 6:30 PM at Mott’s Run Nature Center in Fredericksburg. The Center is located at 6600 River Road.

Applications for the training can be downloaded by clicking here or obtained by calling 540-663-0181 or e-mailing or

The cost for the training is $150.

To enroll, submit your application. Fees are due by August 9th and may be paid at the Orientation Session. Make checks payable to VMN-CRC.

Enrollment is limited to 20 on a first come basis. Applications should be submitted to:
Master Naturalist Program
Virginia Dept. of Forestry
11617 Caledon Road
King George, VA 22485

If you have questions, please contact Jim Scibek at or Karen Snape, 540-663-0181 or e-mail

Please note the following:
1. To become a Certified Master Naturalist, a trainee must: 1) Complete the 40 hours basic training course with a minimum of 25% time in the field; 2) Pass the post-training assessment with a score of 70% or higher; 3) Complete a minimum of 8 hours of advanced training, approved by the Central Rappahannock Chapter; and 4) Complete a minimum of 40 hours of service, approved by the Central Rappahannock Chapter. Each volunteer has a maximum of 12 months from the last day of basic training to complete the remaining requirements for certification. Certification is valid through the calendar year following the year in which the requirements were completed. To maintain certification, volunteers complete an additional 8 hours of advanced training and 40 hours of service annually.

2. Due to statewide regulations, applicants must be 18 years old by the start of the training session (August 9, 2010) or aged 14-17 and accompanied by an adult who is responsible for them, as long as they are both registered participants in the program.

3. Training Class Schedule and Location– Classes will be held Monday evenings from 6:30-8:45PM at Motts Run Nature Center in Fredericksburg starting with the Orientation and Introductory session on August 9th. Master Naturalist guidelines require 25% of the training to take place outdoors. Four required Saturday sessions are scheduled. Saturday classes usually last four hours and will be held at Motts Run, the Friends of the Rappahannock facility on Fall Hill Avenue or other location within the CRC chapter’s region. See schedule below.

4. Trainees may not miss more than 2 classes, and all missed sessions must be made up by attending the appropriate class(es) within 12 months of the completion of the training or other approved make-up activities.

5. Additional information on the Virginia Master Naturalist Program can be found at

Master Naturalist Training Schedule – 2010*
Mon. Aug 9th Orientation/Intro to Virginia Master Naturalist Program
Mon. Aug. 16th Administrative Info./American Naturalists/Risk Management
Mon. Aug. 23rd Ecological Concepts
Mon. Aug. 30th Botany
Mon. Sept. 13th Forest Ecology and Management
Sat. Sept. 18th Bird Walk
Mon. Sept. 20th Ornithology
Sat. Sept. 25th Plant Walk
Mon. Sept. 27th Interpretation and Teaching Skills
Mon. Oct, 4th Land Use/ Urban Systems
Mon. Oct. 11th Geology/ Biogeography
Sat. Oct. 16th Wetlands and Coastal Ecology
Mon. Oct. 18th Weather and Climate/ Soil Science
Mon. Oct.25th Citizen Science and Presentations
Sat. Oct. 30th Biological and Chemical Water Monitoring and Ichthyology
Mon. Nov. 1st Mammalogy
Mon. Nov. 8th Herpetology
Mon. Nov. 15th Entomology – Tests Distributed
Mon. Nov. 29th TESTS DUE BACK to DOF-King George (Karen’s Office) by 5 PM
Tues.. Dec. 7th Graduation and Chapter Meeting
*Planned Schedule – Order subject to change pending speaker availability.

Virginia Master Naturalist programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact VDOF at 540-663-0181 (TDD number 1-800-828-1120 during business hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations five days prior to the event.

May 3, 2010

Approved Project: Friends of the Rappahannock Weed Warriors

Join the Weed Warriors for a morning of invasive plant removal and habitat restoration. Workdays usually occur rain or shine, so please dress accordingly - long pants and old shoes are always a good idea.

Mark Your Calenders:Weed Warriors will meet throughout this spring and summer on Saturday mornings (9am-12pm), at FOR Headquarters.

June 12 * July 17 * August 28 *
September 11 * October 2

Email Jackie Nelson ( for questions or to pre-register for a workday.

February 25, 2010

Guided Nature Tour at Belmont


Guided Nature Tour at Belmont
Date published: 2/25/2010


The antidote for this winter's cabin fever lies close within reach: The folks at Belmont will host this month's guided nature tour of the estate's woods and fields.

"The mile-and-a-half hike makes a circuit through a variety of terrain, including a meadow, woodlands and a rock scramble when the river isn't too high--and there are little bridges, creeks and wetlands," said Belmont grounds preservation supervisor Beate Jensen, who initiated and coordinated the project of restoring the trail.

"It's a great way for parents to introduce their children to hiking--it's not too long of a trail and it is close to home."

Jensen was first inspired with the idea for a nature trail after seeing a letter that Corinne Melchers had written in 1943, when she was making plans to leave the estate that she and her husband, Gari, had enjoyed so much as a legacy to the community.

"She had purchased land next to Belmont, and she talked about how she would like to see a path through the woods," Jensen explained. "She thought the public would derive great pleasure in having Belmont as a park."

Bringing that vision to fruition entailed the investment of much time, talent and effort. Over time, invasive species had overtaken the property, and the "winding path in the grove" that Mrs. Melchers had laid out in 1931 was virtually obliterated by trees, vines and shrubs.

For the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the local chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists who took on the task, restoration was a labor of love.

The trail's renovation began in 2000 and involved erosion control, bridge repair, extending the existing trail to a natural spring, and placing ID markers on a variety of trees.

Bulbs and mountain laurel, which Melchers wrote she had planted in the grove, were replanted on the grounds, and the fields were planted with warm-season native grasses and wildflowers.

The restored trail today winds from the garden, through the grasses and the woodlands, down to the Rappahannock River below. Along the way, hikers will see reminders of the history of the grounds, including the pre-Civil War burial plot of a young mother and her child who died in infancy, an old ice pond dam, and a pumphouse that the family put in to bring water from a stream to their house in the 1920s.

"My favorite part of the walk is down by the river," said Elaine Hild, a Virginia master naturalist who serves as a guide for the hike. "When a hiking group comes close to the river, we are silent for a moment and just listen to the roar of the water.

"The river was a crossroads for Native American tribes who would come together to meet here," added Hild. "And when Joseph Ficklen lived at Belmont in the 1820s, he was able to walk down from his property to the river and take a ship to England!"

In the snow of the winter months, hikers may spot the tracks of deer, groundhogs and raccoons, and they will see a variety of animal habitats, such as the entrance hole to a groundhog burrow.
"The woodland walk is a great family activity," said Hild. "You get physical exercise and you're out in the clean fresh air."

And, adds Jansen, it's family-friendly and year-round interesting.

"Families can come every month. Nature is always changing, so there is always something new to see and learn.

"Even in the dead of winter, snowdrops and daffodils are poking through the snow," Jansen noted.

"Each person has their own unique experience when they go through the woods. Everybody sees something or feels it in their own individual way--whether it be the cold, or the sun, or the fragrance, or the wind.

"And I encourage families to come back on their own after these guided tours and experience the trail at different times throughout the year."

Collette Caprara is a local artist and freelance writer.

What: Guided Woodland Nature Hike Where: Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, 224 Washington St., Fredericksburg When: Sunday, Feb. 28, 2 p.m. (and the last Sunday of every month, also at 2 p.m.) Cost: Free Info: 540/654-1851;

(Caprara, Collette. "Guided Woodland Hike At Belmont Offers a Free Chance to Enjoy Nature --and History." The Freelance Star 25 February 2010)