VBWT Adopt-A-Trail Update

vabwt-signswitzerlake-pic-cropAdapted from an email sent to Adopt-A-Trail Project coordinators by VDGIF’s Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail Project organizer Jessica Ruthenberg on December 22, 2016:

Due dates for checklists by season:
Project coordinator, Sandy Greene, compiles and sends these in to Jessica.
Winter: March 31
Spring: June 30
Summer: September 30
Fall: December 31

Only checklists for sites that are visited for the first time or are re-visited and have new findings about the site itself or the site/ manager contact, need to be sent in. Re-visits are primarily intended for birding and wildlife observation which are entered into eBird and our Wildlife Mapping project on iNaturalist.

Site contacts should be contacted once per year.

Winter in Virginia is a great time to observe over-wintering waterfowl, seabirds, and some song-birds and we would love to have observations of these species captured in eBird. Many of the VBWT sites on eBird lack winter observations. You may find that some sites are closed or inaccessible during winter. If this is the case for your site, we do not expect you to visit it.

If you haven’t yet successfully been able to get in touch with your site contact, this may be a good time of year to try again as winter tends to  be a slower season for many of the site contacts. If the contact information is out-of-date on our website and you’ve been struggling to determine an appropriate new contact, please keep up the detective work by calling main offices for that site and asking around. Getting these contacts updated and having owners/ managers respond to the checklist questions is very helpful information for us. We recognize in many cases that getting ahold of these folks is the most challenging part of the project, so we appreciate your persistence!

Adopt-A-Trail Project chapter coordinators are being asked to complete a Year-end Report Survey by January 31, 2017. The survey hopes to assess how well the project is going for the VMN chapters involved.

Find Wildlife is a new interactive map version of the VBWT guide and website.  The Find Wildlife application does not replace the current VBWT section of DGIF’s website. It is intended to complement the website and offer a new way to navigate the VBWT.

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website has been undergoing an update, including the Virginia Wildlife and Birding Trail section of the website. Check them out.

The project’s training powerpoint slides have been updated and are available in pdf form on the Adopt-A-Trail Project page on the Virginia Master Naturalists’ website here. These training slides serve as the procedure for the project.

I have just completed reviewing and compiling information from all of the checklists submitted in 2016 (over 150 checklists!). We received back a ton of helpful information!

As of December 2016, here are some project stats:

  • 13 (almost 50%) VMN chapters have committed to the project
  • 11 committed VMN chapters have already started the project and have been actively participating
  • 16 VBWT loops (about 25% of VBWT’s loops) have been adopted by VMN chapters
  • 13 loops were monitored and reported on by VMNs in 2016
  • 141 individual VBWT sites (over 20% of VBWT sites) have been monitored and reported on by VMNS in 2016! Way to go!

We are very excited about the potential of this project and anticipate that Adopt-A-Trail will continue to evolve and grow over time. Thanks for taking the journey with us!

Jessica Ruthenberg
Watchable Wildlife Biologist
Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
jessica.ruthenberg [at] dgif.virginia.gov