Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Spring nature walks include variety of topics

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 18, 2009 — Observations of wildflowers, birds, animal inventories, invasive plants and history highlight topics to be focused on this spring during six weekend nature walks in the Department of Energy's National Environmental Research Park.

"We've had continuing strong interest from the public in seeing and experiencing some of the special biological resources of the research park," said Pat Parr, ORNL's natural resources manager. "These nature walks are popular and we are glad to be able to offer more programs delving into some new aspects of activity taking place on the reservation."

In addition to the usual wildflower walk and two bird walks, scheduled programs include a discussion of various species of animals, the invasive plants study and the history of the area.

Participants should wear layers of clothing, sturdy shoes; bring a container of water and bug spray. Most of the programs are limited to specific numbers. Children are allowed, although the invasive plants program scheduled for Saturday, May 30 has a child age limit of no younger than 10. Pets are not permitted on any of the walks.

Reservations are necessary and may be made in advance by noon the preceding Thursday by contacting Lana McDonald at 865-574-7323 (mcdonaldlk@ornl.gov).

The spring 2009 nature walk schedule includes:

• Wildflower Walk, Sunday, April 19 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The activity involves walking up and downhill - including some steep slopes -- over an approximate two-mile distance with about half the trip off the trail. Larry Pounds, a botanist consultant to ORNL, will lead the program, limited to 20 participants. The group will meet at 1:30 p.m. at the West Guardhouse along Oak Ridge Turnpike.

• Bird Walks, Saturday, April 25, and Saturday, May 2 from 7 to 10:30 a.m. These approximate two-mile walks will cover level dirt roads. Jim Evans, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on-site manager, will conduct the walks, which are each limited to 25 participants. In order to enhance the experience, a pair of binoculars and a field guide to birds are recommended. The group will meet at 7 a.m. at Oak Ridge Associated Universities' Scarboro Operations site, located at the intersection of Bethel Valley and Scarboro roads.

• Native American History and Early Pioneer Settlement in Anderson and Roane counties, Saturday, May 2 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Mick Wiest, a member of the Oak Ridge Reservation Cultural Resources Team, will present a short overview of the cultural resource management program. Mike Woody, manager of the Southwest Fort in Kingston, will dress in Native American attire while displaying various artifacts. The group will meet at 1 p.m. at ORAU's Scarboro's Operations and travel to the historic Freels Bend Cabin for the presentations. Participants should bring a folding chair. There is not a number limit for this program.

• Animal Inventory, Saturday, May 16 from 9 a.m. to noon. The group will observe various species of animals along a limited distance level dirt and gravel trail. John Byrd of the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization will conduct the program. Participants are limited to 15 and should meet at 9 a.m. at the Scarboro Center.

• Invasive Plant Sites, Saturday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. Harry Quarles of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division -- a nationally recognized authority on kudzu and other invasive plants -- will lead participants across a limited distance of fields and level dirt and gravel roads. The group is limited to 20. Children for this program must be at least 10 years old. The group will meet at the West Guardhouse along Oak Ridge Turnpike.

If inclement weather forces postponement of an event, it will be announced two hours before the scheduled walk on the ORNL Work and Weather Information Line at 865-574-9836.

More information about the spring nature walk program is available by calling Neil Giffen at 865-241-9421 (giffenrn1@ornl.gov).

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.