On Saturday, August 11, National Park Service staff and volunteers, along with professional naturalists and presenters, will conduct a series of nature-centered activities throughout the Peaks of Otter area. Activities for NatureFest 2012 begin at 9 AM as children enjoy “Fishing With a Ranger”. National Park Service Rangers will supply fishing poles and bait so kids fourteen and under can try their luck at Abbott Lake at the Point behind the Peaks of Otter Lodge. Visitors can then experience nature hikes and hands-on activities as well as presentations and demonstrations throughout the day.
Programs and presentations will discuss and demonstrate natural history topics as varied as bears, amphibians—including the rare Peaks of Otter salamander, spiders and wildland fire. Mike Pelton, internationally-known bear expert, will explain black bear behavior and show visitors how to look for signs of bears on a guided walk. Brent Opell, a professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Virginia Tech will explain how spiders differ from other arthropod and how to recognize common spiders, including those that are venomous like the feared Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders. “Salamanders in the Mists: Virginia’s unique mountaintop salamanders” will be presented by David Marsh, a Washington and Lee University professor of Biology. Wildland Fires, a topic especially relevant with the fires in the west and drought conditions in so many areas of the country, will be discussed by Karen Stanley, a forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry.
NatureFest 2012 will feature several activities specifically designed for children’s enjoyment although all activities will be appropriate for visitors of all ages. Animal Olympics will give kids an opportunity to see how they measure up to various animal “athletes”. Be sure to check out the booths about related nature organizations and visit with Smokey the Bear lakeside by the Lodge.
A special 7:30 Saturday evening program, “Raptors of Virginia”, with Master Falconer Robb Herbst, will give visitors a chance to see hawks and owls up close and learn about these amazing creatures. The program will be followed by “Starry, Starry Night” with National Park Service volunteer and Master Naturalist, Martin Dileggi and volunteer Alan Pipkin. This will be a great opportunity to view the moon, stars and planets in the Nature Center parking area and learn about how and why they were formed. Participants may bring lawn chairs, binoculars and flashlights.
Stop by the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the day of the event for a schedule of activities and presentations. For questions about specific times and locations of activities and for information about food and lodging, contact: Peaks of Otter Visitor Center (540) 586-4496
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