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Saturday, August 06, 2011

NatureFest 2011 at Peaks of Otter

Katrina and I went to this last year and we really enjoyed it and learned a lot! And we got pictures of a mama bear and her cubs behind the lodge!

On Saturday, August 13, 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 2011 begin at 9 a.m. as children enjoy "Fishing with a Ranger." National Park Service Rangers will supply fishing poles and bait so that kids 14 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, coyotes, mushrooms, butterflies, and moths and how the Peaks of Otter were formed. 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. Mike Fies, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will present "Coyotes of the Commonwealth: Here Today, Here to Stay."

Pat Schuler, the "Butterfly Lady" who has had a life-long interest in butterflies, moths and raising caterpillars will discuss these beautiful winged creatures. Rebecca Radar, a mushroom expert will discuss edible and poisonous mushrooms and how to tell them apart.

NatureFest 2011 will feature several activities specifically designed for children's enjoyment although all activities will be appropriate for visitors of all ages. New this year, children's fun activities will be offered in a nearby room by rangers while parents enjoy the presentations in the Flat Top Room at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

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, "Scales and Slime: Reptiles and Amphibians of the Blue Ridge" will be presented by National Park Service Ranger and wetlands expert Mike Hayslett and will include many live animals to view close up. The program will be followed by "Starry, Starry Night" with National Park Service volunteer and Master Naturalist, Martin Dileggi. 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, call the Visitor Center at 540-586-4496. FREE!

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