Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Help sought in caring for kestrels

North America's smallest and most colorful falcon is the American Kestrel, a robin-sized bird that prefers open habitat, such as fields and prairies interspersed with trees that can be used as hunting perches.  During the past several years, kestrel populations have gradually declined across North America, especially in the Northeast and in Appalachia. Because of this decline, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA) in Morgantown, is partnering with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) to give kestrels extra help to maintain healthy populations in the Mountain State.  The DNR has provided nest boxes and the ACCA is partnering with landowners to install and monitor nest boxes.  Individuals are wanted, especially in Monongalia and Preston counties, to install, and monitor, kestrel boxes on their property.  To participate contact Doug Gilbert at
Kestrels hunt mice, voles and other small mammals that are often considered a nuisance.  These little birds nest in holes in trees, a rare commodity in today's world since dead trees near open areas are often cut down.  Nest boxes placed on utility poles, highway signs or living trees are used to mitigate this problem.
"Kestrels are an important part of our natural heritage.  They are a charismatic species that people enjoy watching and they are indicators of healthy pasturelands in West Virginia.  Conservation biologist are worried about their declines, but also excited about the opportunities for citizen science and partnership to buffer their populations against decline," said Dr Todd Katzner, a WVU research assistant professor and founding board member of ACCA.
Info on ACCA:
If you find an injured bird, call 304-906-5438.                                 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Randolph-Tucker Master Gardeners Spring Workshop

Permission to cross-post from Master Gardeners:

Randolph-Tucker Master Gardeners Spring Workshop
Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
9am to 3pm at Camp Pioneer outside Beverly
Cost is $25, which includes a locally made herbal luncheon
Workshop topics are:
 Planting mushrooms in a log demonstration by Cheat Mountain Wild Foods
"Hands on for making Witch Hazel Ointment" by Marion Harless

Seed exchange will take place during lunch.
To register call Sue at 304-636-4690 or Emily at 304-636-2707

Special recognition lecture/reception for fellow MN Joe Morton

West Virginia University is pleased to announce that Dr. Joseph Morton, Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award in the Biosciences and Health Sciences category.
A lecture and reception are planned to honor Dr. Morton. The lecture entitled, Evolution of a Fungal Symbiosis Critical to the Life of Most Plants on Earth, will be presented by Dr. Morton on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. in the NRCCE (National Research Center for Coal & Energy), Room 101AB. A reception will follow. For directions to the NRCCE and parking instructions please go to their website at
Dr. Morton has indicated his desire that you be extended an invitation to share this special afternoon with him. On behalf of West Virginia University, I extend to you a cordial invitation and hope it is possible for you to join us.
If you have any questions regarding the planned activities, please do not hesitate to call the Office of the Provost at (304) 293-2021.
C. B. Wilson
Associate Provost for Academic Personnel.

2013 Monongahela Master Naturalists classes start this Thursday

I hope many of you can come to the first class this Thursday to meet and talk with the new class.  We have 19 signed up, but 2 or 3 cannot make it the first day.

Also Debby and I had a great time visiting the Morgantown Learning Academy last week.  We hiked their trail with the kids and came up with a good Earth Day Project.  I also would like you to consider adopting the MLA as a chapter project.  They need a lot of help to make their grounds into a great experience for all their students.  We will be talking about this Saturday so please come if you can.
See you soon

ps As an extra incentive to attend, I understand that the new re-certification cards will be available at this class.  denise

March MN Rendezvous - Saturday Morning Breakfast and a Rail Trail Hike

Just a reminder that the Monongahela MNs will have a social gathering at the Terra Cafe this Saturday at 9:30am.  We'll be discussing our upcoming Earth Day service project at the Morgantown Learning Academy and other upcoming events of interest.  As weather permits we'll also do a little jaunt on the trail to look for signs of spring.  Terra Cafe is located on the rail trail in Star City right beside Citynet's offices and the Tugboat Depot playground.  Hope to see you there!


West Virginia Botanic Garden Volunteer Orientation

West Virginia Botanic Garden
Volunteer Orientation

  • Sunday, April 14, 2013 • 2:00-4:30 pm
  • Hosted by Erin Smaldone
  • Imperial East Sales Building (directions to follow)
Please join us to learn more about the WVBG and Volunteer Opportunities for 2013.
RSVP by clicking the yes button and confirm or email Erin Smaldone at by April 8.
Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Late March, early April events reminders

***Thursday, March 14th, 6-7:30 pm "Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Backyard." Green Night at the Morgantown Public Library 
***Sunday March 17- Darnell Hollow Field Trip -- 10am-Noon with Coopers Rock Foundation. Check with Adam Polinski for more information at 
***Thursday, March 21st, Master Naturalist classes start for 2013. The Master Naturalist Program, run by the DNR, consists of lectures and field trips led by botanists and other nature interpreters. The core mission of the program is to train volunteers to assist government agencies, schools and NGOs with research, outdoor recreation development and environmental education and protection. Info at Email to join.
***Saturday April 6 Adopt-a-trail Spring Cleanup -- Coopers Rock State Forest
Check with leader Ann Devine-King, 304-594-2636 or

***Saturday, Sunday April 13,14 -- Coopers Rock State Forest      Coopers Rock Work Weekend led by the Coopers Rock Foundation. On one day, work will focus on removing some of the Hurricane Sandy leftovers behind the Concession Stand. and use them for Habitat Restoration, and work on getting trails ready for spring and summer hikers and other visitors to the forest. .  
Volunteers will meet at the Day Use Lot 1/4 mile from I-68.  Participant partners include the WVU Climbing Club and the Sierra Club, but this is a great activity for scout troops and other service organizations.  It is also a way for families to spend the day together, helping to clean up the forest they use for recreation and other family activities and events.
      Trailwork on Sunday, April 14 is scheduled from 1-5 p.m.; work times on Saturday TBA.  For more information, contact Trail  Coordinator Adam Polinski at
  You can join an email list for volunteer trailwork by contacting Adam at the above email. 
***Check for many spring field trips and opportunities for bird watching with knowledgeable, friendly Audubon members.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Federal funds available to help golden-winger warbler

Money is available to help bring back larger populations of the golden-winged warbler, the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior announced.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with a program called Working Lands for Wildlife, which funds the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered species.  The program has divided about $33 million in federal funds among seven selected species in the US.  Parts of Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties are among 18 in West Virginia that are habitat for the golden-winger warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera).  Properties eligible for funds include, but are not limited to, tracts 3-5 acres or more that are bordered by about 75 percent forest, including forest at elevations of 2,000-3,200 feet.  Interested producers and landowners can enroll at their local NRCS field office.  Applications submitted before April 1 will be ranked for funding, with contracts obligated by June 30.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fossil Preparation Workshop

Hello all,

Last year, I had announced that geologist/paleontologist Ray Garton was willing to offer workshops in fossil preparation and identification to interested Master Naturalist students. Quite a number of people indicated interest (23 of you), but Ray needed to purchase an additional piece of equipment to accommodate such a large number of people and funding was tight. The equipment has now been acquired and Ray is ready to get started. He has a large quantity of dinosaur bones in matrix, a 750,000 year old West Virginia peccary and other fossils that needs to be prepared and he is eager to train people to work with the equipment. Some of the bones and fossils will go to research and others may be exhibited at the WV Geological & Economic Survey Museum where Ray is curator. The classes will probably take place on Sundays but there may be other days available to those interested in additional lessons.

If you are still interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, please respond to me via email as soon as you can. If you know of other Master Naturalists or MN students who might also be interested, feel free to forward this email to them. You should be able to get elective credit for this and possibly volunteer hours as well.


Jim Van Gundy
(304) 636-4736

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sheepskin Trail Celebration in Point Marion - Mar 7

The Sheepskin Trail will continue the Mon River Trail into Pt. Marion.  They just received funding for it (  

To celebrate the funding of "Next Step - Sheepskin Trail" you are invited to a community gathering tomorrow, Thursday, March 7.  Events start with a trail walk at 4:30 PM at the corner of Penn and Railroad Streets.  This will be followed by a program from 5-6 PM at the Jordan Building, 26 Penn Street.  Guests will include Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla, Fayette County Commissioners, local government officials, and rail-trail enthusiasts. 

Everyone is invited.  For more information call 304-379-2569.

...from the Point Marion River Town Action Group

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Green Night at Morgantown Public Library - Mar 14

Make Your Backyard Wildlife Friendly
Green Night at Library on March 14
Spring is coming and homeowners are starting to think about getting out in the yard again and making it an enjoyable place.
But, how about also making that space friendly to your wildlife friends?
On Thursday, March 14, WVU Wildlife Biologist Sheldon Owen will help you think through some first steps.
Geared to adults and children alike, the workshop will cover how to give native wild plants and animals what they need to thrive, while avoiding damage some of them can cause. The session takes place 6:00–7:30pm at the downtown public library (373 Spruce Street), sponsored by the Morgantown Municipal Green Team. 
For more information, contact Pamela Cubberly at 703-218-5417 or