At each of the monthly Friends meetings there are a variety of decisions to be made. One of those decisions in January concerns the future of our Adopt A Highway permit. Three years ago one of our former officers obtained a permit to clean the roadsides of Qualla Road along and through Pocahontas from Spring Run Road on the south to Newby’s Bridge Road on the north. The permit expires in February. During the past year we have scheduled a few cleanups in Meetup, but the response has been negligible.
Some things to consider: Qualla Road has a lot of traffic, so there is quite a lot of litter and it is not pleasant working on the roadside with so many fast-travelling vehicles. We have the option of switching to a section of Woodpecker Road, where the litter and traffic are less but the road section length is more. Picking up litter on Qualla has a direct result of reducing the litter reaching Swift Creek, and the visual impact of cleaner roadsides is greater than on Woodpecker. Picking up along Woodpecker is less risky at more convenient hours due to the lower traffic and longer sight distances.
Is this an activity that members of Friends would like to see continued? We only have so much manpower, and the firewood activities are more critical to the mission of the group. If we switch to Woodpecker and schedule Saturday morning cleanups alternating with wood-splitting, would members be willing to participate? Post your thoughts here.
There are a number of old homesites within the park boundary. Except for a few sites which have been maintained for park personnel, the old homesites have been cleared to permit forest regeneration. We can still identify the sites, though, by the telltale non-native vegetation that has persisted over the years. One old site, near the Dance Forest Trail, has become degraded by the aggressive spread of exotic wisteria. This area has become the focus for the initial work sessions of IVSquad. The control technique being used here is to cut all stems, whether small or mature, shrubby or vining, just above ground level. Later on, during the growing season, all the resprouts will then be treated with herbicide. There are several acres of wisteria here, so the cutting will likely take all winter. There are plenty of work sessions available, and the work is not hard. Join us for some fresh air and pleasant exercise.
The Invasive Plants Volunteer Squad is being implemented as a cooperative endeavor between The Friends of Pocahontas State Park, represented by Ben Hedges, and the Virginia State Parks District 4 Resource Manager, represented by Irene Frentz. Under the supervision of Irene, Ben will serve as the guide for ongoing working sessions to control invasive plants in Pocahontas State Park.
Working sessions will be available, via registration, most afternoons, both on weekdays and weekends, 1 to 4 PM. These working sessions will not be “one off”, requiring people with conflicting schedules to all be available for an occasional special event. Small teams of just two or a few volunteers will be the norm. Access to Signup Genius for registration is by invitation from Ben. To receive an invitation, send an email request to email@example.com.
The description of IVSquad follows.
Mission: Assist Virginia State Parks District 4 staff in controlling invasive plants on park property.
1. What we will do
2. Who may participate
3. When activities take place
4. Where sessions will be held
5. How we are organized
6. How we operate
ARTICLE II, MISSION:
The mission of this 501c(3) organization is to operate on a non-profit basis, specializing in providing volunteer assistance to Pocahontas State Park. We shall provide labor and funding for programs and events that are in accordance with the mutual interests of both the Friends of Pocahontas State Park and Pocahontas State Park.
While not specifically stated, the mission can easily be interpreted to include labor for maintaining the aesthetic value of the park’s natural scenery, that being in the mutual interest of the two parties. With a budget that provides minimum funding for maintaining aesthetic value, the park depends on volunteers to provide services such as litter collection, especially in outlying areas. That’s why Owen and I got together today to remove a load of trash that had been dumped at the Dean Forest Road parking lot.
When you see a need, lend a hand.
In August and September of this year, directed by State Parks Resource Specialist Irene Frentz and Friends of Pocahontas member Ben Hedges, a series of invasive plant control sessions was conducted to remove Japanese Stillgrass from the park. To capitalize on the success of those sessions, Irene and Ben would like to organize an on-going invasive plant control volunteer task force for Pocahontas. These volunteers would continue to help with control of the various invasive plants in the park on a regularly scheduled basis.
A meeting has been scheduled by Irene and Ben at the Heritage Center,on November 9 at 9am, to discuss and define the who, what, how and when parameters for this activity. All current park volunteers who have an interest in helping control invasive plants in the park are invited to participate in this discussion.
Our 2013 Park After Dark celebration was a roaring success!
650 visitors enjoyed hayrides and pumpkins and face painting and campfire tales and cool night time animals and crafts and great food and sooo much more! This is more than double last year's visitor total.
Thank you to all of the park staff and volunteers that made this such a success and a special thank you to Event Plannner extraordinaire, Jeanie Meikle, and Park Volunteer Coordinator, Andrea Hasenfus who moved Heaven and Earth to make the night a success!!
Our Clean Virginia Waterways litter cleanup event this morning was supported by three Virginia Master Naturalists, at least a couple of FoPSP members and 17 other area residents, including seven students from an ecology club. It was frosty until the sun hit the grass, but windless, so there was no bite to the air and mist was rising from the water. Several brave souls went out in watercraft to scour the shoreline of the lake, while the rest explored the trails and wooded areas in the area of the boat launch. When everybody had returned with their collected items, we had six bags of trash, weighing around 18 pounds.
Our efforts are just a tiny part of the International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by Ocean Conservancy and coordinated in Virginia by Longwood University. The end result is not just a cleaner park and lake, but the prevention of this litter adding to contamination of the Chesapeake Bay and of course the Atlantic Ocean. The staff of the Pocahontas State Park and the coordinators at Clean Virginia Waterways pass along their thanks for our participation.
Our thanks to the three Capital One volunteers who ventured out in the woods with me today to help remove invasive Shrubby Lespedeza along Fendley Station Loop A. It turned out to be a pleasant afternoon in the park, and almost an ideal day to get some serious exercise. We pulled up at least two dozen plants, plus some Japanese Honeysuckle Vine and one cluster of Multiflora Rose, both of which are also invasive. It will be an easy task next summer to revisit that trail and pull out any missed or resprouting plants.
Cold evenings and dry weekends had their traditionally accelerative effect on firewood usage. We loaded up the new campground with two trailers full of firewood and put another two into the old campground wood box. Thank you Chris, Travis, Derrel and Chris!!
A few folks stayed afterward to split more wood and we have a big pile ready for stacking on Nov 2nd.
Chopsticks had a hydraulic leak which we fixed on site. We're still having some probelms with the engine and feel that she may
The Master Naturalist service project planting was a great success this past Sunday. This was a wonderful partnership and testament to the dedication of volunteers and staff at the park who came together to accomplish something good for the park: beautifying our entrance, and installing native plants for the health and habitat of Pocahontas. With funding from the Friends of Pocahontas State Park, and planning, ideas, and hard work from the Master Naturalists, and support from park staff (special thanks to Bob Redenz, David Yeager and Matt Harvey), we were able to plant 5 native trees along Beach Road and in the "triangle", and native flowers and grasses around the entrance sign.
I think it looks great, and I would like to give a big THANKS to all involved!
The Pocahontas chapter of Master Naturalists have agreed to adopt this project and maintain the plants and trees for several years to come.
Pocahontas State Park