The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is excited to announce the launching of the Adopt-A-Trail project, a new long-term volunteer opportunity for Virginia Master Naturalists. The Adopt-A-Trail project is a way for the Virginia Master Naturalists to partner with DGIF to update, maintain and improve the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT).
DGIF is inviting chapters of Virginia Master Naturalists to “adopt” loops of the VBWT through the Adopt-A-Trail project. Chapters will “adopt” one or more loops that fall within or near the counties of their chapter’s local area. Project participants will visit assigned sites on their chapter’s loop(s) four times a year to assess conditions at the site, communicate with the site’s owner/ manager, update site information in the VBWT guide, observe and record bird sightings using e-bird, and to record additional wildlife observations into their newly updated Wildlife Mapping program. Future plans include the completion of site evaluations and surveys that will help DGIF to determine the top VBWT sites. All of the information collected will be used to make updates to the VBWT guide, build relationships with site owners/ managers, develop new marketing pieces for the VBWT, and improve the overall quality of the trail for visitors.
The Pocahontas Chapter graciously agreed to pilot the Adopt-A-Trail project for DGIF this fall and have already made great strides. They adopted the Appomattox Loop in Chesterfield County and have done a fantastic job of coordinating all of the logistics on their end necessary for this project. Project participants report that they have found the sign-up process and instructions easy to follow and that this is a great project for members interested in visiting nearby trails that they have never encountered before. The Pocahontas Chapter plans to complete their pilot work by the end of November.
After the pilot phase is completed, DGIF will fine tune the Adopt-A-Trail project as needed to get it ready for more chapters to participate, starting in early Spring 2016. If your chapter is interested in participating in the Adopt-A-Trail project, DGIF would love to hear from you. Please email Jessica Ruthenberg, DGIF’s Watchable Wildlife Biologist at Jessica.Ruthenberg@dgif.virginia.gov to find out how to get started!