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Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship Open for hiking from dawn to dusk every day and for camping by advance reservations. The Blue Ridge Center is a nonprofit organization that manages nearly 900 acres featuring hiking trails through deep woods, babbling streams, a working farm, wildflower meadows, and historic farmsteads.

Located in the western region of Virginia's Loudoun county, we are a key member of the community – our land protects Potomac River tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, preserves the Appalachian Trail viewshed, and conserves the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species. Few public spaces so close to the big city offer such deep woods to enjoy the sounds of birdsong and to spend a few

Located in the western region of Virginia's Loudoun county, we are a key member of the community – our land protects Potomac River tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, preserves the Appalachian Trail viewshed, and conserves the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species. Few public spaces so close to the big city offer such deep woods to enjoy the sounds of birdsong and to spend a few

Operating as usual

Start your weekend off right! Join us this Saturday, March 19th at 9:30am for our monthly volunteer work day. We'll be t...
03/17/2022

Start your weekend off right! Join us this Saturday, March 19th at 9:30am for our monthly volunteer work day. We'll be teaming up with US Trail Ride members to post colored trail blazes for this future state park. Be part of history in the making!

Meet in the main parking lot by the Welcome Kiosk. RSVP preferred, but not required.

It’s time for a little March madness! In a face off between the 8th seed Virginia Opossum and 9th seed Copperhead Snake,...
03/16/2022

It’s time for a little March madness! In a face off between the 8th seed Virginia Opossum and 9th seed Copperhead Snake, who do you pick to win? Let’s find out…

As the sun sets on an early spring day, an opossum is foraging for grubs in the woodlands of the Blue Ridge Center. He is so focused on foraging that he runs right into a family of copperheads. The mother copperhead takes a threatening stance and prepares to strike. At this point, most animals (and people!) would wisely run the other way. This opossum, however, bares his teeth and stands his ground. Opossums are naturally immune to copperhead venom, but the bites still pack a punch and may injure the opossum. He decides this entrée is not worth the risk and starts to move on. But it’s his lucky day - he discovers a young copperhead from the family who has wandered too far for mom to protect. A safer bet, the opossum attacks and fills up on this young copperhead. The win goes to the Virginia Opossum!!

#happywildlifewednesday #happystpatricksday #MarchMadness #opossumvscopperhead

We hear rather than see them most times, which is of course how Spring Peepers got their common name. And they make a LO...
03/09/2022

We hear rather than see them most times, which is of course how Spring Peepers got their common name. And they make a LOT of noise for such tiny frogs, usually well under 1½ inches long. Today’s Wildlife Wednesday celebrates these amphibians, among the first to emerge from hibernation in North America once the weather starts warming.

Spring Peepers migrate only short distances, from overwintering sites underground or in leaf litter to aquatic environments. At the height of breeding season, the din of Peepers looking for love in ponds and wetlands—a series of high-pitched whistles repeated at roughly one-second intervals—can be almost deafening. Check out Capital Naturalist, Alonzo Abugattas’ website, for a great story about just how loud these little frogs can be: https://capitalnaturalist.blogspot.com/2015/04/spring-peepers.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR1UZU53nizjl4HbbnbW1_0eDVv_wDe-y7zAtzjilvzCI9AsNlynk_JD7h8

Thanks Eric, Anne, and John, for making the winter nature hike fun and educational! The 15 or so participants included s...
03/03/2022

Thanks Eric, Anne, and John, for making the winter nature hike fun and educational! The 15 or so participants included several enthusiastic families and first-time visitors to BRCES. From chewed acorn and hickory shells (evidence of gray and flying squirrels) to wood frogs laying eggs in a vernal pool, the group enjoyed exploring nature during these last few weeks of winter.

Photo by John Ellis.

Winter won’t officially end for another three weeks, but this Wildlife Wednesday we’re celebrating a wildflower that has...
03/03/2022

Winter won’t officially end for another three weeks, but this Wildlife Wednesday we’re celebrating a wildflower that has come to symbolize spring’s advent: the snowdrop. These bulbous perennials—actually part of the onion family—came by their common name because they appear even before the snows of winter are no longer a threat. Perhaps because of that, Snowdrops provide hope for gardeners at the end of a frigid winter like this one. For insects, including native bees, they also provide sustenance, both pollen and nectar.

Each plant, from 2 to 7 inches high, bears a single, bell-shaped white flower. When they come up singly, it’s easy to overlook these tiny harbingers of spring. Fortunately, thanks to snowdrops’ bountiful self-seeding habit, we often spot them in groups or “drifts.” They prefer full sun or part shade, and do well beneath deciduous trees and shrubs.

This Sunday at 1pm we'll be exploring nature in winter! Join us fora winter walk to discover and discuss how animals and...
02/25/2022

This Sunday at 1pm we'll be exploring nature in winter! Join us for
a winter walk to discover and discuss how animals and plants adapt to the coldest months of the year. Participants should have sturdy, water-resistant footwear and dress for the weather. Meet at the welcome kiosk/main trail head. Hope to see you there!!

This Wildlife Wednesday we’re celebrating one of spring’s loudest harbingers, the Red-winged Blackbird. As February fade...
02/24/2022

This Wildlife Wednesday we’re celebrating one of spring’s loudest harbingers, the Red-winged Blackbird. As February fades away, fields and hedgerows echo with cries of “Con-quer-EE,” when flocks of these glossy, medium-size Ictarids begin arriving in Loudoun, sometimes up to 50 to a group, and forage for food together. They mostly eat seeds, but later in the year will also seek out insects.

The males are far showier than the females, easily identified by their red wing patches, which are usually underscored with yellow. Plus these are far from shy birds: Individual males love to find an elevated perch, such as atop tall grasses, to announce their arrival and defend their territory. But the mostly brown females are harder to spot, easily blending into the background—a great advantage during the summer nesting season—as they tend to build their nests close to the ground and also close to the nests of other pairs, seeking security from predators. Each pair raises two or three clutches of eggs, and they build new nests every time they nest.

Join us for the Loudoun Wildlife sponsored monthly bird walk this Saturday (Feb 26th) at 8 am to see Red-winged Blackbirds in action!

We had a great turnout at this month's volunteer workday!  A BIG thanks goes to Bob, Robin, and USTR volunteers Cathy, C...
02/21/2022

We had a great turnout at this month's volunteer workday! A BIG thanks goes to Bob, Robin, and USTR volunteers Cathy, Cathryn, Sylvia, Lynn, and Susan for their enthusiasm and hard work installing new blazes on several trails.

Mark your calendars for our next volunteer workday on March 19th!

Start your weekend off right - join us this Saturday, Feb. 19th from 9:30 - 11:30am for our monthly volunteer work day. ...
02/17/2022

Start your weekend off right - join us this Saturday, Feb. 19th from 9:30 - 11:30am for our monthly volunteer work day. We'll be teaming up with US Trail Ride members to post colored trail blazes for this new state park. Be part of history in the making!

Meet in main parking lot by Welcome Kiosk. RSVP preferred, but not required.

Most people would think skunk cabbage distinctly unappetizing, given that it smells like a skunk or decaying carrion. An...
02/16/2022

Most people would think skunk cabbage distinctly unappetizing, given that it smells like a skunk or decaying carrion. And in fact, that’s how it got its common name. But just after hibernation ends some hungry animals and insects are drawn to Symplocarpus foetidus, one of the first perennials to come up each spring. Skunk cabbage’s appearance in late February, heralded by a purplish leaf, or spathe, that shelters an odd-looking spike of flowers, called a spadex, means it provides some nourishment while winter is still relinquishing its chilly grip.

Thanks to a process known as thermogenesis, the flowers of the spadex are capable of warming up to 70 degrees, which tends to melt surrounding snow or ice—simultaneously dispersing skunk cabbage’s distinctive odor, which attracts early pollinators such as bees. A secondary benefit of this perennial’s unusual growth habit is that bees sometimes linger beneath the hood-like spathe, enjoying the warmth trapped there. So despite being stinky, skunk cabbage provides both food and shelter!

Skunk cabbage can be found pretty easily at the Blue Ridge Center. Check it out on your next visit or join us for a group hike on Feb. 27th at 1pm. Happy Wildlife Wednesday!

Say hello to Sweet Run State Park!Our land preserve has transitioned into Virginia’s newest state park. The Blue Ridge C...
02/11/2022
Latest piece of land for new Virginia State Park acquired

Say hello to Sweet Run State Park!

Our land preserve has transitioned into Virginia’s newest state park. The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship non-profit organization will continue to maintain trails, organize events, and oversee wildlife and environmental conservation efforts. We’re still free and open to the public every day, so stop on by!

Read the full press release at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/pr-relz-detail?id=2022-02-09-09-05-46-543797-mri

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

A big thanks goes to NOVAC (Northern Virginia Astronomy Club) for treating BRCES volunteers to a night sky tour and fasc...
02/10/2022

A big thanks goes to NOVAC (Northern Virginia Astronomy Club) for treating BRCES volunteers to a night sky tour and fascinating presentation on how astronomers measure distances out into the universe. BRCES volunteers enjoyed viewing through the club members' high quality telescopes, seeing Jupiter, the moon's mountains and other features, Andromeda Galaxy, Pleaides (7 sisters) star cluster, and other iconic objects. It was a chilly, but clear and beautiful night for star gazing and socializing!

Here is a good source for sunrise/sunset times, planet visibility, and much more if interested: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/usa/leesburg?month=2&year=2022

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! Whether you’re sick of snow or wanting more, these fun facts may foster a greater appreciation...
02/09/2022

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! Whether you’re sick of snow or wanting more, these fun facts may foster a greater appreciation for winter…

1. On average, a typical snowflake falls about 1.5 mph and takes about an hour to reach the ground.

2. It’s not your imagination - snowy winter scenes are truly peaceful. Snowflakes absorb sound waves as they fall. The space between the piled-up flakes also acts as a sound absorber, creating that idyllic winter wonderland.

3. Snow provides nutrients to gardens and has been called a “poor man’s fertilizer” (Old Farmer’s Almanac) since nitrogen attaches to the flakes as they fall.

4. Snow is translucent, not white. When light passes through the ice crystals, it bends and bounces off each individual crystal. The entire light spectrum is reflected back so the snow appears white.

5. Many animals burrow deep into snow to hibernate. Fresh compacted snow is about 90% trapped air so it’s a great insulator.

6. All snowflakes have exactly six sides - that’s the only way the hydrogen and oxygen molecules can fit together.

Photo by Wilson (Snowflake) Bentley, the first known person to photograph snowflakes to document their features

Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so it seems we're in for six more weeks of winter. If the prospec...
02/02/2022

Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so it seems we're in for six more weeks of winter. If the prospect of more winter has you feeling blue, this is the post for you. No offense to Phil or his fellow groundhogs, but weather forecasting is not their forte. They do indeed emerge from their dens in early February, but what are they really up to?

Males wake up and roam around their territory in search of female burrows to enter. Research suggests these visits allow the male and female to get to know each other. They likely hold off on mating until emerging for good in March.

Groundhogs eat a lot - sometimes 10% of their body weight in one sitting - to prepare for hibernation. These pudgy rodents aren’t very fast and use their burrows as protection from predators. Burrows can be 6 feet deep and 20 feet long with multiple entrances and exits!

Photo by Michael Myers.

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11661 Harpers Ferry Rd
Purcellville, VA
20132

Telephone

(540) 668-7640

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The Blue Ridge Center is a nonprofit organization that manages nearly 900 acres featuring hiking trails through deep woods, babbling streams, a working farm, wildflower meadows, and historic farmsteads. Located in the western region of Virginia’s Loudoun county, we are a key member of the community – our land protects Potomac River tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, preserves the Appalachian Trail viewshed, and conserves the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species.

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Jane Wortman passed away on September 17. Jane visited her aunt on the farm where she met the love of her life, Wilbur Wortman. Jane and Wilbur lived in the farmhouse for 8 years before building their home on Pine Hill Lane. Jane's obituary can be found at
Indigo Buntings, Chats, Gnatcatchers and more were counted by 14 people on the June 26 Bird Walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. See the article below for a full list of bird sightings.
Birds are not the only thing we see on birding walks at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship!
Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship on Harpers Ferry Road in Purcellville near Neersville has easy, shaded trails and water. What more could you ask for? #loudoun #purcellville #findyourfamilyfun #mackid #mackidloudoun #getoutside
Always love being out here and got to see an owl today! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10223662883709804&id=1523247439
Virginia is starting to reopen. 😊😊 With so many park treasures and outside activities, it's a great time to plan a day trip. Shenandoah National Park Virginia State Parks Harpers Ferry Adventure Center Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Mackintosh Fruit Farm West Oaks Farm Market Dinosaur Land Skyline Paintball & Laser Tag Family Drive-In Sky Meadows State Park Shenandoah River State Park Natural Bridge State Park Seven Bends State Park Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardshipr WILD GUYde Adventures LLC Massanutten Resort Shenandoah Valley Music Festival
Located in the western region of Virginia's Loudoun county, Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship is a key member of the community – their land protects Potomac River tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, preserves the Appalachian Trail viewshed, and conserves the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species. 📷: @gabesheretoo on Instagram using #LivePlayDo
Many of our guests choose to spend one day of their Loudoun experience hiking at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship and on the #AppalachianTrail both close by AltaTerra Farm Bed and Breakfast! Here is a resource for your Loudoun hiking activity. #Loudounhiking #loudountrails #outdoorrecreation
Many thanks to the USTR and Blue Ridge Center volunteers for all their hard work on the trails today. Next trail maintenance is Sunday November 17th at 9 am. Hope to see you there!
Meet people from the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship who will share interesting facts about plants and animals on Sunday, October 20 during the annual Hail to the Trail--Purcellville's Green Expo held at the Chapman DeMary Trail in the Town of Purcellville