The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is looking for help from VA Master Naturalists to update information on the 637 sites along the 65 loops of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. Established over the span of several years from 1999-2004, this is a driving trail with stops in areas known to offer choice habitat conducive to viewing diverse wildlife. VMN Chapters are being asked to “adopt” loops of the trail within their service areas.
Maintaining inviting wildlife viewing sites in Virginia serves to enhance the public’s access, awareness, knowledge, and ultimately appreciation and value of some our state’s less developed areas to help protect these natural resources.
VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Biologist Jessica Ruthenberg wrote about the adoption project in the fall issue of VMN’s newsletter, The Pollinator, here. She is the contact person in DGIF for VMN chapters adopting portions of the trail.
Adopting a “trail” entails such tasks as monitoring the condition of the signage; communicating with the site owners about amount of usage and recommendations for bringing more visitors to their site; and seasonally monitoring for wildlife, entering sightings into eBird and DGIF’s Wildlife Mapping programs. DGIF is now using iNaturalist.org to collect all Wildlife Mapping data. It is free and open to the public.
Within Rockingham and Augusta Counties lie three loops of the trail system with a total of 27 sites. The three loops are named Lost Shoe, North River and Forest Trails. Scroll down for a Google map with these loops and sites.
There are 10 sites along the Lost Shoe Loop:
- Lost Shoe
- MLS01: New Market Battlefield State Historical Park
- MLS02: Slate Lick Fields
- MLS03: Long Run Road – Forest Rd. 72
- MLS03A: Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Garden at James Madison University
- MLS04: Lake Campbell
- MLS05: Lake Shenandoah
- MLS06: Leonard’s Pond
- MLS07: Mountain View Park (formerly Grottoes Town Park)
- MLS08: Grand Caverns Regional Park (Grottoes)
- MLS09: Madison Run Fire Road, Shenandoah National Park
There are 10 sites along the North River Loop:
- North River
And the Forest Trails Loop has 7 sites:
- Forest Trails
Our chapter has been involved with a number of the sites listed. Choosing certain sites is not an option. The request is to adopt one or more complete loops. According to Jessica Ruthenberg this project can help acquaint chapter members with places near them but with which they are not yet familiar.
To encourage the Headwaters Chapter to adopt all three loops in our area, Jessica suggests a modified wildlife monitoring schedule for us where we could visit the sites of one loop per season. This way, over a three year time span, each site would be visited at least once during each of the four seasons.
VDGIF plans to offer a training webinar for loop-adopters in March 2016 with hopes that work improving the sites’ information can get started soon after.
A key determination for a chapter to adopt a trail is to identify an individual willing be serve as project coordinator. For this project Jessica tells us that, “This person will coordinate everything on your end, such as the sign-up process for who in your chapter is visiting which site, creating a schedule, tracking project progress, compiling data sheets, etc. This person will also be my liaison and point-of-contact- with your chapter.”
More generally the HMN Project Committee has been working on a generic job description for project coordinators that could apply to all current and future projects:
The coordinator’s main role is to keep the project current, active and membership aware of it.
- Keep VMN VMS listing for project updated. This requires understanding what the project is all about and HMN’s role in the project, acquiring some administrative privileges to the VMN VMS site through the Project Committee Chair, and possibly some VMN VMS editing instructions.
- Be the contact person about this project for chapter members.
- Create/add events for this project to VMN VMS calendar.
- Notify membership of this project’s events and/or needs through email, newsletter, membership meetings, and/or phone calls to ensure event/project gets participation.
- Coordinate with agency/organization representative(s) as needed.
- See that our obligations for the project are being fulfilled and/or revise expectations as needed.
Any takers for a coordinator for Headwaters to Adopt-A-Trail(s) -? Contact Project Committee Chair Sandy Greene: greenes104 [at] aol.com
– Adrie Voors, Cohort II, December 2015
Thanks to Carl Droms for creating this map of all the sites for our consideration: