In addition to the updates below, HMN Coordinator for this project, Sandy Greene, has compiled some tips for successful monitoring trips here: DGIF Birding and Wildlife Trails for HMNs
Adapted from an email sent to Adopt-A-Trail Project coordinators by VDGIF’s Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail Project organizer Jessica Ruthenberg on March 30, 2017:
Welcome Spring and a New Year of the Adopt-A-Trail Project!
• For those chapters who participated in the Adopt-A-Trail project during 2016, you no longer need to submit last year’s, Phase I checklist form for this year’s monitoring efforts! Instead, you will now be using the Phase II instructions sheet here: VBWT_PhaseII_SiteReVisit Instructions_updated033017. These instructions will soon be available for download from the VMN website: http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/virginia-birding-and-wildlife-trail-adoption.html
• If your chapter is new to the Adopt-A-Trail project for 2017- OR-have participated in the past, but have adopted a new loop for 2017, please use the Phase I site visit checklist forms for your monitoring and submit those in a group back to me at the end of the spring season. Keep in mind that spring can be a very busy time of year for park and public land managers, so it may be a difficult time of year to get ahold of site contacts. You may have better luck contacting them in the fall or winter seasons; it’s ok if you are not able to complete that part of the checklist this spring season; you can try for that part later down the road. The contacting of site contacts (managers/ owners) is a ONCE/ YEAR task. Once you chapter has completed all the items on the Phase I checklist, including contacting site managers, you may move on to using the Phase II instructions sheet. If you have any questions about the checklist forms, please feel free to contact me.
• Be Aware of Hunting Seasons – Virginia hunting seasons take place April 1 – May 31st and Sept. 1 – Feb. 28th. During these timeframes, hunting may occur any day except on Sundays when on public lands where hunting is permissible. If you have any Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) on your adopted loop, please take this into consideration when timing your site visits. Wearing blaze orange is recommended for safety during these time periods. You also may want to consider conducting your WMA visit on a Sunday during these timeframes. Keep in mind that hunting does also occur at some state parks and national wildlife refuges, so you may want to check with those locations about whether/ when hunting may be occurring during these seasons.
• A note on VBWT signage maintenance –Please do not attempt to maintain/ replace VBWT signage on your own. The large directional VBWT signs with arrows on roadways may only be replaced/ maintained/ removed by Virginia Dept of Transportation (VDOT). Even at DGIF, we must work with VDOT to maintain/ replace/ remove these signs. Similarly, the smaller VBWT signs at site entrances & kiosks should really only be maintained by the site itself, as it is on their property. Please do not attempt to maintain/ replace/ remove them on your own without first seeking out permission of the site owner/ manager.
New project materials available!
• In addition to the “Phase II Site Re-visit Instructions” which will be available shortly, “Guidelines and Tips for Adopt-A-Trail Chapter Coordinators” is now available for download from the VMN website at http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/virginia-birding-and-wildlife-trail-adoption.html. This document will be very useful for new chapter coordinators just starting out or for any coordinators looking for tips/ advice from other chapters.
Project Status Report
• Webpage Updates – Updates to site description webpages based on the information provided in 2016 checklists is in progress. Updates are being made one loop at a time. You will be contacted when updates to your loop’s webpages have been completed. Your patience with these webpage updates is very much appreciated!
• Replacement Signage – Many chapters have indicated needs for replacement signage. We thank you for providing this information! All signage replacement needs have been documented. Replacement signs will be provided, however this will take some time to accomplish. Due to a limited supply in our current stock, budgeting processes for a reorder, and the multiple players involved in getting the new signs posted, it could be quite a while before you see replacements made. However, please know that they are very much on our radar and we do intend to make the replacements. Your patience with the process is much appreciated.
Year-end Survey Results from 2016
• Thank you to all the coordinators who submitted the 2016 End-of-Year Survey Report Form. Your responses and feedback has been much appreciated! The response you provided inspired and helped to create the new “Guidelines and Tips for Chapter Coordinators” document, were incorporated into the new Phase II instructions sheet, and will continue to provide valuable insights/ feedback as we continue to work on improving/ maintaining the VBWT as well as the Adopt-A-Trail project! Thanks again!
• A summary of these survey results is here: Adopt-A-Trail Year-end Survey Results_2016. It includes a few responses (in blue) to address the project challenges expressed, which I hope you will find helpful.
Looking forward to continue working with you all this year! Keep up the good work!! As always if there are questions or concerns regarding the project, please feel free to contact me.
Watchable Wildlife Biologist
Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
3909 Airline Blvd., Chesapeake, Virginia 23321
Office: (757) 465-6868 • Cell: (804) 229-2556
jessica.ruthenberg [at] dgif.virginia.gov
Top photo is from Switzer Lake, July 2016, VBWT site on the North River Loop.