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

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! It’s almost Halloween, when everyone is extra wary of ghosts, goblins—and bats. But here’s som...
10/13/2021

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! It’s almost Halloween, when everyone is extra wary of ghosts, goblins—and bats. But here’s some very good news: none of the bat species commonly found here are blood-sucking vampires! Any chiropterist, or bat specialist, will explain that all bats are an important natural resource wherever they’re found, flying mammals that spend much of their time tracking down moths, beetles, flies, wasps and much more. They also love mosquitoes, the real blood-suckers.

Did you know Virginia actually has a state bat? The Virginia Big-eared bat (photo by Larisa Bishop-Boros), just 4 inches long, is one of three endangered species found in the Commonwealth. Fortunately, all our bats have a great appetite: One Little Brown bat can devour up to 3,000 mosquitoes in just one night!

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! It’s almost Halloween, when everyone is extra wary of ghosts, goblins—and bats. But here’s some very good news: none of the bat species commonly found here are blood-sucking vampires! Any chiropterist, or bat specialist, will explain that all bats are an important natural resource wherever they’re found, flying mammals that spend much of their time tracking down moths, beetles, flies, wasps and much more. They also love mosquitoes, the real blood-suckers.

Did you know Virginia actually has a state bat? The Virginia Big-eared bat (photo by Larisa Bishop-Boros), just 4 inches long, is one of three endangered species found in the Commonwealth. Fortunately, all our bats have a great appetite: One Little Brown bat can devour up to 3,000 mosquitoes in just one night!

This belated Wildlife Wednesday is in honor of Bob, our volunteer of the month! How well do you know the history of the ...
10/07/2021

This belated Wildlife Wednesday is in honor of Bob, our volunteer of the month! How well do you know the history of the Blue Ridge Center?

1. The first settlers in this part of Loudoun County (mid-1700s) were ______.
A. French
B. German
C. Italian
D. None of the above

2. Barney Sikes was the only known inhabitant of Barney’s Cabin, which once stood just beyond Wortman Pond. Hired by the Wortman family, he was a large man with an intimidating appearance yet gentle nature who got along well with children in the valley.
A. True
B. False

3. This region has been an important area since the late 1700s due to _______.
A. Wheat and dairy farming
B. Charcoal hearths that fed into the Harpers Ferry armory
C. The Civil War split between Confederate and Union sympathizers; skirmishes often caught citizens in the crossfire
D. All of the above

4. Surveyors sometimes manipulated the growth of trees to create boundary markers. These oddly patterned trees were useless to loggers so over time they became older and larger than surrounding trees. Such boundary marker trees exist at BRCES.
A. True
B. False

Interested in learning more? Take our self-guided history tour: https://www.blueridgecenter.org/self-guided-history-hike/

Answers: 1. B, 2. True, 3. D, 4. True

What a gorgeous weekend to be outside! Consider joining us for one or both of tomorrow's events:Guided Hike from 10am to...
10/02/2021
Self Guided History Hike

What a gorgeous weekend to be outside! Consider joining us for one or both of tomorrow's events:

Guided Hike from 10am to 1pm
Explore the less traveled parts of this 900-acre preserve and soak in the beauty and tranquility of this special place. Meet at welcome kiosk (main parking lot).

Tour of Mountain View Farm from 1:30pm to 2pm
Get to know Farmer Jim and learn about the rich history of this farm and how he raises and markets high-quality pastured broiler chickens in his first year of farming. Meet at the farm stand (on left side as you pull in driveway).

Check the back of the welcome kiosk for self-guided activity ideas, including a history tour: https://www.blueridgecenter.org/self-guided-history-hike/

Happy Fall!

  Take a walk back in time with this self-guided history hike... BRCES History Hike Script

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather at the Blue Ridge Center!Stop by the pollinator garden tomorrow from 9-10:30am to meet ...
10/01/2021

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather at the Blue Ridge Center!

Stop by the pollinator garden tomorrow from 9-10:30am to meet our garden team and ask questions about gardening with native plants.

Stay for a guided, family-friendly nature hike from 10:30 to noon, starting at the Welcome Kiosk.

Check the back of the kiosk for self-guided activities that can be done anytime. Stop by the Nature Play Area to make a mud pie, walk across a balance beam, dig a hole, and more!

Pop quiz time - don’t worry, this one isn't graded! Goldenrod is the dazzling yellow, fall blooming plant often found al...
09/30/2021

Pop quiz time - don’t worry, this one isn't graded! Goldenrod is the dazzling yellow, fall blooming plant often found along roadsides and open meadows. It provides a valuable food source for pollinators. True or False: This native perennial is the cause of fall allergies for many Americans.

False! Goldenrod (photo on right) is often blamed for runny noses and itchy eyes, when in fact Ragweed (photo on left) is the culprit. Ragweed’s inconspicuous green flower heads allow this wind-pollinated native to go unnoticed. The Goldenrod’s pollen is too large to be transferred by wind so it’s insect-pollinated. The type of pollination makes all the difference.

The Blue Ridge Center’s meadows and pollinator garden are currently filled with Goldenrod. Come check it out and bring your camera! Happy Wildlife Thursday!

Celebrate fall and the great outdoors with a trip to the Blue Ridge Center! We're offering several events the weekend of...
09/24/2021
Loudoun Nature Days: Fall Park Tour - ©2021 Loudoun Environmental Education Alliance

Celebrate fall and the great outdoors with a trip to the Blue Ridge Center! We're offering several events the weekend of October 2-3 as part of Loudoun Nature Days (https://loudounnature.org/calendar/loudoun-nature-days-fall-park-tour):

Saturday, Oct. 2nd @ 9am to 10:30 am – Pollinator Garden Party
Stop by the Pollinator Garden (located next to main parking lot) to meet our garden team and ask questions you may have about gardening with native plants.

Saturday, Oct. 2nd @ 10:30am to 12 noon – Family Nature Hike
Join us for a family friendly hike around the Center to see what lives and grows in this diverse habitat. We’ll focus on plants, especially trees, to celebrate the launch of Plant NOVA Trees five-year campaign. Meet at welcome kiosk (main parking lot).

Sunday, Oct. 3rd @ 10am to 1pm – Adult Hike
Explore some of the less traveled parts of this 900-acre preserve and soak in the beauty and tranquility of this special place. Meet at welcome kiosk (main parking lot).

Sunday, Oct. 3rd @ 1:30pm to 2pm - Tour of Mountain View Farm
Get to know Farmer Jim and learn about the rich history of this farm and how he raises and markets high-quality pastured broiler chickens in his first year of farming. Meet at the farm stand (on left side as you pull in driveway).

10/02/2021 - 10/03/2021 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm - The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship has planned some amazing activities for Loudoun Nature Days!! Celebrate fall and the great outdoors with a trip to the Blue Ridge Center! We are offering several guided and self-guided activities the we...

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. —Albert CamusThe trees have begun their fall show, surrounding us...
09/22/2021

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
—Albert Camus

The trees have begun their fall show, surrounding us with their rich tapestry of golds, reds and oranges. But why, and how, do the leaves change?

Actually, all the colors you can see now have been there all along—you just couldn’t perceive them before this because the green that the trees make in the spring and summer was masking it. Leaves are green because of the chemical chlorophyll, which helps trees take in sunlight as food, in the process known as photosynthesis. The same leaves also contain orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids, but during the warmer months those pigments are hidden by the chlorophyll active within the leaves.

Once chlorophyll production begins to decline, and chlorophyll begins receding from the leaves into the tree, the beautiful colors that we all associate with fall—reds, yellows, oranges—are revealed.

Happy first day of Fall! Photo by Tom Lussier.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
—Albert Camus

The trees have begun their fall show, surrounding us with their rich tapestry of golds, reds and oranges. But why, and how, do the leaves change?

Actually, all the colors you can see now have been there all along—you just couldn’t perceive them before this because the green that the trees make in the spring and summer was masking it. Leaves are green because of the chemical chlorophyll, which helps trees take in sunlight as food, in the process known as photosynthesis. The same leaves also contain orange and yellow pigments called carotenoids, but during the warmer months those pigments are hidden by the chlorophyll active within the leaves.

Once chlorophyll production begins to decline, and chlorophyll begins receding from the leaves into the tree, the beautiful colors that we all associate with fall—reds, yellows, oranges—are revealed.

Happy first day of Fall! Photo by Tom Lussier.

09/19/2021

The weather is looking great for tomorrow! Enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge Center AND get a workout by helping us clear the trails! Meet at the main parking lot at 1:30pm - hope to see you there!

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! Fall migration often brings to mind the acorn-eating Blue Jay and its loud “jay! jay!” call. P...
09/15/2021

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! Fall migration often brings to mind the acorn-eating Blue Jay and its loud “jay! jay!” call. Perhaps you’ve been fooled by their impressive imitation of a Red-shouldered Hawk’s scream. Have you heard their softer side, a ‘whisper song’ of clicks, whirrs, and whines?

These intelligent birds have complex social systems with tight family bonds. A pair usually mates for life and remains together throughout the year. Blue Jays use their crest to communicate with family or flock members; the higher the crest, the higher the aggression level. They lower their crests when feeding peacefully or tending to nestlings.

Though breeding and winter behavior are well studied in this common bird, migration remains a mystery. Some jays remain year-round throughout their range, while others migrate in flocks. Both juveniles and adults may migrate; some migrate only every other year. It’s a pattern that only the Blue Jays seem to know!

Photo by Ian Richardson.

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! Fall migration often brings to mind the acorn-eating Blue Jay and its loud “jay! jay!” call. Perhaps you’ve been fooled by their impressive imitation of a Red-shouldered Hawk’s scream. Have you heard their softer side, a ‘whisper song’ of clicks, whirrs, and whines?

These intelligent birds have complex social systems with tight family bonds. A pair usually mates for life and remains together throughout the year. Blue Jays use their crest to communicate with family or flock members; the higher the crest, the higher the aggression level. They lower their crests when feeding peacefully or tending to nestlings.

Though breeding and winter behavior are well studied in this common bird, migration remains a mystery. Some jays remain year-round throughout their range, while others migrate in flocks. Both juveniles and adults may migrate; some migrate only every other year. It’s a pattern that only the Blue Jays seem to know!

Photo by Ian Richardson.

In honor of Madison, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Thursday is about the Oak Mite. Are you starting to itch ...
09/09/2021

In honor of Madison, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Thursday is about the Oak Mite. Are you starting to itch just thinking about Oak Mites? If so, you’re in good company. More people than usual have been complaining about bug bites lately throughout our region. One culprit is this microscopic mite that lives mainly on oak tree leaves and dry grasses. One of their favorite foods is cicada larva (and possibly their eggs) and they’ve been enjoying the feast this summer!

When their insect larva food source dies off or burrows into the ground in late summer, the mites drop from the trees. They don’t live on humans or invade homes. However, when they drop from the trees or are blown by the wind they may land on us. Since they’re so small, they often remain undetected and can bite many times before they die, causing itchy red bumps that can last for two weeks. Their numbers will start decreasing significantly now that Brood X cicadas won’t be around. Though considered a nuisance, the Oak Mite has a place in nature and can be fascinating to study (photo from The Washington Post).

In honor of Madison, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Thursday is about the Oak Mite. Are you starting to itch just thinking about Oak Mites? If so, you’re in good company. More people than usual have been complaining about bug bites lately throughout our region. One culprit is this microscopic mite that lives mainly on oak tree leaves and dry grasses. One of their favorite foods is cicada larva (and possibly their eggs) and they’ve been enjoying the feast this summer!

When their insect larva food source dies off or burrows into the ground in late summer, the mites drop from the trees. They don’t live on humans or invade homes. However, when they drop from the trees or are blown by the wind they may land on us. Since they’re so small, they often remain undetected and can bite many times before they die, causing itchy red bumps that can last for two weeks. Their numbers will start decreasing significantly now that Brood X cicadas won’t be around. Though considered a nuisance, the Oak Mite has a place in nature and can be fascinating to study (photo from The Washington Post).

The results are in from the 25th annual butterfly count, organized by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy! Two teams covere...
08/25/2021

The results are in from the 25th annual butterfly count, organized by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy! Two teams covered the Blue Ridge Center and counted 545 butterflies from 30 different species. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Virginia’s state insect, topped the list at 138, followed by 89 Zabulon Skippers and 65 Spicebush Swallowtails. Two Northern Pearly-eyes and Common Sootywings were observed, along with an American Snout and Viceroy. All count data is reported to the North American Butterfly Association, which tracks butterfly populations. A big thanks goes to the volunteer counters: Joe Coleman (leader), Larry Meade (leader), Kendra Bree, Bob and Tamie DeWitt, Sarah Kabealo, Dee Leggett, Brian Magurn, Kristine Powers, and Patricia Whittle. Photos taken by Bob DeWitt.

Native trees, shrubs, and flowers provide a great way to attract butterflies to your yard. The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s fall native plant sale is just around the corner on September 11th from 9 am - 3 pm at Morven Park. You can also attract butterflies by creating a puddle station - fill a shallow dish with soil or sand, a few flat rocks, enough water to moisten the soil, salt, and overripe fruit. Male butterflies "puddle" to drink the water and collect nutrients to pass along when mating. The offspring of a healthier female are more likely to survive. Happy Wildlife Wednesday!

The next time you're at the Blue Ridge Center check out the new interpretive sign regarding the Leggett Foundation's fou...
08/20/2021

The next time you're at the Blue Ridge Center check out the new interpretive sign regarding the Leggett Foundation's founding of BRCES. The sign is located next to the welcome kiosk.

Thanks, Janet and Dirk, for installing the sign! And thanks, Bob and Dee, for having the vision and dedication to protect this beautiful property for both people and wildlife to enjoy.

If you enjoy watching pollinators at work, add Mountain Mint to your garden. This Wildlife Thursday we’re celebrating Py...
08/19/2021

If you enjoy watching pollinators at work, add Mountain Mint to your garden. This Wildlife Thursday we’re celebrating Pycnanthemum, or Mountain Mint, a recent addition to our Native Plant Garden at BRCES. From sunup to sundown, this long-blooming perennial is a guaranteed pollinator magnet.

The genus name Pycnanthemum means densely flowered, which is the key to these fragrant plants’ attraction to a great many bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. Typically blooming from June through September, this perennial creates a kind of floral landing cushion—broad clusters of tiny blossoms that bloom in turn as the summer passes, and are capable of feeding many insects simultaneously. Caterpillar host to four species of moths, Mountain Mint serves as a nectar source for many butterflies, such as the Gray Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and Variegated Fritillary.

There are several types of Pycnanthemum: Hoary, Narrow-leaved or Slender, Short-toothed or Clustered, and Virginia. In addition to their lengthy blooming season, a characteristic they share is their refreshingly minty fragrance. So deer, rabbits, and other garden pests won’t eat them!

Join the BRCES garden team this Saturday from 9 to 10:30 am and check out the Mountain Mint and other native flowers!

If you enjoy watching pollinators at work, add Mountain Mint to your garden. This Wildlife Thursday we’re celebrating Pycnanthemum, or Mountain Mint, a recent addition to our Native Plant Garden at BRCES. From sunup to sundown, this long-blooming perennial is a guaranteed pollinator magnet.

The genus name Pycnanthemum means densely flowered, which is the key to these fragrant plants’ attraction to a great many bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. Typically blooming from June through September, this perennial creates a kind of floral landing cushion—broad clusters of tiny blossoms that bloom in turn as the summer passes, and are capable of feeding many insects simultaneously. Caterpillar host to four species of moths, Mountain Mint serves as a nectar source for many butterflies, such as the Gray Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and Variegated Fritillary.

There are several types of Pycnanthemum: Hoary, Narrow-leaved or Slender, Short-toothed or Clustered, and Virginia. In addition to their lengthy blooming season, a characteristic they share is their refreshingly minty fragrance. So deer, rabbits, and other garden pests won’t eat them!

Join the BRCES garden team this Saturday from 9 to 10:30 am and check out the Mountain Mint and other native flowers!

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11661 Harpers Ferry Rd
Purcellville, VA
20132

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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
Always love being out here and got to see an owl today! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10223662883709804&id=1523247439
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!