Experience nature at Pleasant Grove

By Page H. Gifford

The holidays are behind us, a new year has begun, and it is time to start exercising. Walking and hiking at the county treasure that is Pleasant Grove can be a learning experience. 

Being aware of the fragility of our environment, nature is the first place we can start to understand how vital everything is. Trees, plants, animals, birds, insects, etc. all play a crucial role in preserving the environment. Beginning with the appreciation and understanding of each natural component is key to maintaining nature’s balance. Volunteer master naturalists are currently working with Fluvanna County Parks and Recreation to preserve the natural beauty and the habitats that make up Fluvanna’s rural image.

For those who have moved here recently, there is no time like the present to visit Pleasant Grove Park and become familiar with 23 trails that cover 20 miles. Even though it’s winter and everything is dormant, seeing nature in its naked glory will be a teaser for what’s to come in the spring. And what one sees in winter is no less important than what comes out in the spring, grows in the summer, or languishes in the fall. Each season has a story to tell.

Begin at the Nature Room at the Summer Kitchen Museum to see the interpretive exhibits, animal artifacts, and mounted birds, all native to Pleasant Grove Park. How animals survive, hibernate, and forage for food is different in the winter than when food is more abundant in the spring and summer. Adults are always amazed at how little they know about nature and wildlife.

Visit the Chestnut Restoration Demonstration Plot to learn about the effort to restore a once dominant tree to our forest which has been demoted to a few words in a Christmas song. The effort related to this experimental project and the history of the tree will inspire people who knew little about the chestnut tree.

To the left of the Chestnut Tree Restoration Demonstration Plot begins the self-guided nature hike down a main trail that connects with others. There is a kiosk there with trail maps and trails are also marked.

Hike through grassy field meadows on the Birding Trail, Quail Meadow Trail, and River Anne Trail, to observe native grasses and wildlife and in spring see the wildflowers. Also, in the spring the butterfly garden will be up in full swing and is an important piece of environmental upkeep with pollinators being key to crops and plants.

If you’re a birdwatcher, go birding and spot the array of native birds. This is a perfect time to pick up a birding checklist and go walking in the park. Bird identification field guides are available at the Pleasant Grove House and the Fluvanna County library. Learn about bird habitats and even bats by observing one of the bluebird, American kestrel, bat, or eastern screech owl nesting boxes, located throughout the park. The new guide, with station numbers, can also be used to observe nature along the Rail Trail in the village of Palmyra.

Pleasant Grove covers 1,000 acres, including the nearby trails behind the library and the area around the dog park leading to the Rivanna River. The master naturalists feature monthly hikes, talking about the many facets of nature in the park. They kicked off January with a hike along the Beech Grove, Deep Creek, and Heritage Trails. While meandering through the woods and valleys above the Rivanna River, hikers learned about looking for signs of wildlife in the winter forest as well as how to recognize certain trees in winter.

Next month on Feb. 4, at 10 a.m., a hike will be led by Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards to learn how to identify trees in late winter and to hear interesting facts about trees. There are 23 native species of trees on the Arboretum Trail behind the library. Hikers will also see a piece of farm machinery in the middle of a growing tree and children will get to go on a scavenger hunt.

These are just a few opportunities for everyone to become engaged with nature. There are also nature hikes at Scheier Natural Area, which features 100 acres, eight ponds, and three miles of hiking trails.

Brochures, guides, and maps are available at the Pleasant Grove House, the Nature Room (in the Summer Kitchen), the library, and many kiosks in the park.

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation at the Pleasant Grove House at (434) 589-2016. Visit www.vmn-rivanna.org and www.rivannariver.org to find out about other natural areas and resources. And always check conditions on the day of the hike by calling (434) 589-2016 or visit www.Facebook.com/FluvannaParksandRecreation.

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138