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.
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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

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!

Lost dog! Please call or text 931-581-6876 any time day or night if you see this dog. She recently got loose near the Bl...
08/12/2021

Lost dog!

Please call or text 931-581-6876 any time day or night if you see this dog. She recently got loose near the Blue Ridge Center and does not have her collar on. She is not familiar with this area and may or may not answer to her name, Eowyn. She is a sweet, 9 month old livestock guardian dog and will not present any threat to domestic animals. Please spread the word! Thanks!

Have you heard of the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)? Native to China, this invasive species was first detected...
08/11/2021

Have you heard of the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)?
Native to China, this invasive species was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, its spread to ten states, including Virginia. Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus Altissima) is a preferred host.

What’s the big deal?
This plant hopper feeds on a variety of fruit as well as ornamental and woody trees. U.S. agriculture and logging industries could be seriously impacted, as well as home gardens.

What should I look for?
Pictured below, egg masses and insects can be found on tree trunks, fences, sheds, rocks, lawn furniture, and under and around vehicles. The Spotted Lanternfly produces a sugary substance when feeding on a plant, which attracts a black sooty mold that coats the plant and ground below.

How do I report a sighting and learn more?
Visit https://www.loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly for more information and to report a sighting. Join Beth Flores-Sastre, horticulturist from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Loudoun Office, on September 18th from 10:30 to 11:30 am at BRCES to learn how we can slow the spread of this invasive pest.

Happy Wildlife Wednesday!

Have you heard of the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula)?
Native to China, this invasive species was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, its spread to ten states, including Virginia. Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus Altissima) is a preferred host.

What’s the big deal?
This plant hopper feeds on a variety of fruit as well as ornamental and woody trees. U.S. agriculture and logging industries could be seriously impacted, as well as home gardens.

What should I look for?
Pictured below, egg masses and insects can be found on tree trunks, fences, sheds, rocks, lawn furniture, and under and around vehicles. The Spotted Lanternfly produces a sugary substance when feeding on a plant, which attracts a black sooty mold that coats the plant and ground below.

How do I report a sighting and learn more?
Visit https://www.loudoun.gov/spottedlanternfly for more information and to report a sighting. Join Beth Flores-Sastre, horticulturist from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Loudoun Office, on September 18th from 10:30 to 11:30 am at BRCES to learn how we can slow the spread of this invasive pest.

Happy Wildlife Wednesday!

In honor of Pam, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Wednesday is about the Eastern Bluebird. Eastern Bluebirds ar...
08/04/2021

In honor of Pam, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Wednesday is about the Eastern Bluebird. Eastern Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, dependent on abandoned holes created by other species, such as woodpeckers—but fortunately also adaptable enough to use manmade homes. A century ago the Eastern Bluebird (Siala Sialis) was threatened with extinction due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and an influx of invasive species such as House Sparrows. During the 1970s conservationists began encouraging birders to increase Siala Sialis’ chances of survival by building and installing nesting houses, now commonly known as Bluebird boxes, in areas where they could be actively monitored. Today the Bluebird is no longer seen as a threatened species—though alterations in weather patterns related to climate change mean it is still regarded as a “species of concern.”

Virginia is lucky to have Bluebirds as year-round residents. The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship maintains a total of 25 nesting boxes situated along three loops or trails: the Farm Loop (4 boxes); the Bug Strip (10 boxes); and the Meadow Trail (11 boxes). Monitoring teams check on and report the status of all boxes from April to August every year. For more about Bluebirds, check out www.nabluebirdsociety.org. Photo by Lisa McKew.

In honor of Pam, our volunteer of the month, this Wildlife Wednesday is about the Eastern Bluebird. Eastern Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, dependent on abandoned holes created by other species, such as woodpeckers—but fortunately also adaptable enough to use manmade homes. A century ago the Eastern Bluebird (Siala Sialis) was threatened with extinction due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and an influx of invasive species such as House Sparrows. During the 1970s conservationists began encouraging birders to increase Siala Sialis’ chances of survival by building and installing nesting houses, now commonly known as Bluebird boxes, in areas where they could be actively monitored. Today the Bluebird is no longer seen as a threatened species—though alterations in weather patterns related to climate change mean it is still regarded as a “species of concern.”

Virginia is lucky to have Bluebirds as year-round residents. The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship maintains a total of 25 nesting boxes situated along three loops or trails: the Farm Loop (4 boxes); the Bug Strip (10 boxes); and the Meadow Trail (11 boxes). Monitoring teams check on and report the status of all boxes from April to August every year. For more about Bluebirds, check out www.nabluebirdsociety.org. Photo by Lisa McKew.

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! What better way to spend a warm summer night than by watching fireflies light up the sky? Fire...
07/29/2021

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! What better way to spend a warm summer night than by watching fireflies light up the sky? Fireflies are actually not flies or true bugs, they are beetles. Their energy efficient flashes of light are created by a chemical reaction in their abdomen. Virginia hosts 20 species of fireflies, each with their own flash pattern. For example, the Common Eastern Firefly flashes in a J-like pattern while the Predator Firefly flashes quickly like a laser gun. Most of the fireflies flying around are males. Females typically take in the show while perched on a plant. Once she spots her perfect guy, she responds with the same light pattern.

We are fortunate to have front row seats to their beautiful displays – fireflies in the west don’t light up, they use pheromones to attract mates. Populations throughout the U.S. are declining, likely due to pesticide use, habitat destruction, climate change, and light pollution.

Photo credit: firefly.org

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! What better way to spend a warm summer night than by watching fireflies light up the sky? Fireflies are actually not flies or true bugs, they are beetles. Their energy efficient flashes of light are created by a chemical reaction in their abdomen. Virginia hosts 20 species of fireflies, each with their own flash pattern. For example, the Common Eastern Firefly flashes in a J-like pattern while the Predator Firefly flashes quickly like a laser gun. Most of the fireflies flying around are males. Females typically take in the show while perched on a plant. Once she spots her perfect guy, she responds with the same light pattern.

We are fortunate to have front row seats to their beautiful displays – fireflies in the west don’t light up, they use pheromones to attract mates. Populations throughout the U.S. are declining, likely due to pesticide use, habitat destruction, climate change, and light pollution.

Photo credit: firefly.org

THANK YOU to the enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers who helped make the “Get Outdoors and Play” event a success! This...
07/27/2021

THANK YOU to the enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers who helped make the “Get Outdoors and Play” event a success! This fun event was a collaborative project between BRCES, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and the Virginia Master Naturalists Banshee Reeks Chapter, with help from Catoctin Creek Park.

It was a hot morning, but everyone was in good spirits and excited to share their passion with others. The families who attended enjoyed the play area and hunting for hidden magical doors. They learned about wildlife and met Sweetheart the snake and Squirtle the painted turtle. The braver kiddos got to hold a chicken on the organic farm tour and learn where eggs come from. Every child left with a bucket full of measuring cups, pipettes, magnifying glasses, and other supplies.

Interested in creating your own nature play space? The National Wildlife Federation has some great ideas to get you started: https://www.nwf.org/Home/Kids-and-Family/Connecting-Kids-and-Nature/Nature-Play-Spaces

What better time to celebrate the moths that help to pollinate our world than National Moth Week, July 17 – 25? This Wil...
07/21/2021

What better time to celebrate the moths that help to pollinate our world than National Moth Week, July 17 – 25? This Wildlife Wednesday we’re focusing on the Snowberry Clearwing, a member of the Sphinx Moth family.

The Snowberry Clearwing seems like some fantastical creature from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Its large, mostly transparent wings, fan-shaped tail and emphatic snout are all confusing enough to make you wonder if your eyes are deceiving you! But this amazing creature’s most unusual characteristic is its ability to hover just like a hummingbird near the plants it feeds upon, unfurling its proboscis: a straw-like tongue that unfurls from beneath its chin to reach nectar deep inside flowers where many other insects cannot reach. Listen and you’ll also hear the hum of its wings, beating at 70 beats per second while it feeds, then moves on to hover near the next blossom. It’s little wonder the Clearwing is also known as the Hummingbird Moth.

Want to attract Snowberry Clearwings to your yard? These day-flying moths tend to seek out fragrant, long-blooming plants such as beebalms, butterfly bushes, echinaceas, honeysuckles, lantanas, morning glories, petunias, verbenas and zinnias. To find out more, check out www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hummingbird_moth.shtml. Photo by Liam McGranaghan.

What better time to celebrate the moths that help to pollinate our world than National Moth Week, July 17 – 25? This Wildlife Wednesday we’re focusing on the Snowberry Clearwing, a member of the Sphinx Moth family.

The Snowberry Clearwing seems like some fantastical creature from the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Its large, mostly transparent wings, fan-shaped tail and emphatic snout are all confusing enough to make you wonder if your eyes are deceiving you! But this amazing creature’s most unusual characteristic is its ability to hover just like a hummingbird near the plants it feeds upon, unfurling its proboscis: a straw-like tongue that unfurls from beneath its chin to reach nectar deep inside flowers where many other insects cannot reach. Listen and you’ll also hear the hum of its wings, beating at 70 beats per second while it feeds, then moves on to hover near the next blossom. It’s little wonder the Clearwing is also known as the Hummingbird Moth.

Want to attract Snowberry Clearwings to your yard? These day-flying moths tend to seek out fragrant, long-blooming plants such as beebalms, butterfly bushes, echinaceas, honeysuckles, lantanas, morning glories, petunias, verbenas and zinnias. To find out more, check out www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hummingbird_moth.shtml. Photo by Liam McGranaghan.

Photos from Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship's post
07/20/2021

Photos from Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship's post

07/20/2021

A HUGE thank you goes to the USTR and hiker volunteers who helped clear a HUGE tree off Upper Sweet Run. This was one of the biggest and most certainly difficult clearings attempted. Check out the video and photos, compliments of Lynn Hottle.

Our three sawyers - Dirk Vandervaart, Dan Barfield, and Ryan Sanders - sawed and sawed. We had great swamper support, with Abby Beavin, Lynn Hottle, Michael Hart, Susan Payne, Mimi Ernst, Debbie Weismiller, Haninia Hyde, and the Barfield family. Gary White did a fantastic job, as always, of keeping everyone safe and making sure the job was done well.

With such an amazing trail crew, no job is too big!!

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! From a distance, Autumn Olive looks a bit like an apple tree. This deciduous shrub, which typi...
07/15/2021

Happy Wildlife Wednesday! From a distance, Autumn Olive looks a bit like an apple tree. This deciduous shrub, which typically grows to around 12 or 16 feet high, bears bright-green leaves with silvery scales on their undersides. Its tart red berries are gobbled up by birds (who also spread its seed far and wide) and other animals—and also can be used to make wonderful jam and desserts.

But Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), which was imported to North America from Asia for erosion control and to help reclaim strip-mining sites as long ago as 1830, today is recognized as an invasive pest in many areas. It can out-compete and displace native plant species, interfering with natural plant succession and nutrient cycles. This invasive plant alters the chemistry of the soil in which it grows, a process known as allelopathy. Autumn Olive is so pervasive in some parks and nature sanctuaries that goat herds are often enlisted to keep it at bay. To learn more about this invasive species, see https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/document/fselum.pdf.

07/12/2021
What better way to start your day than surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Center? Upcoming events include:July 1...
07/09/2021

What better way to start your day than surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Center?

Upcoming events include:
July 10th 9 to 10:30am - Working in the pollinator garden
July 17th 9 to 12 noon - Get Outdoors and Play Family Event!!
July 24th 8 to 11am - Monthly bird walk

No experience needed! Please email [email protected] with any questions.

This Wildlife Wednesday is in honor of Cathy, our volunteer of the month. Did you know that horses have bigger eyes than...
07/08/2021

This Wildlife Wednesday is in honor of Cathy, our volunteer of the month. Did you know that horses have bigger eyes than any other land mammal? The placement of their eyes on the side of their head allows them to see nearly 360 degrees at one time. They have 10 different muscles in their ears (listening for predators is important, too!) and can sleep standing up. Horses take short, frequent naps throughout the day and lie down for short periods of deep sleep in the middle of the night. One thing this interesting animal can’t do is breathe through its mouth, vomit, or burp due to their long, one-way digestive system. Horses can live to be about 30 years old.

The next time you’re hiking at the Blue Ridge Center and see a horse, check out their eyes and other adaptations that allow them to thrive in their environment.

Photo by Janet Vandervaart.

This Wildlife Wednesday is in honor of Cathy, our volunteer of the month. Did you know that horses have bigger eyes than any other land mammal? The placement of their eyes on the side of their head allows them to see nearly 360 degrees at one time. They have 10 different muscles in their ears (listening for predators is important, too!) and can sleep standing up. Horses take short, frequent naps throughout the day and lie down for short periods of deep sleep in the middle of the night. One thing this interesting animal can’t do is breathe through its mouth, vomit, or burp due to their long, one-way digestive system. Horses can live to be about 30 years old.

The next time you’re hiking at the Blue Ridge Center and see a horse, check out their eyes and other adaptations that allow them to thrive in their environment.

Photo by Janet Vandervaart.

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11661 Harpers Ferry Rd
Purcellville, VA
20132

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BRCES

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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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!