Five more nature walks are planned this spring on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation with themes of frog calls and bat monitoring, wildflowers and forest growth, bird watching, invasive plants, reptiles, and amphibians.
The frog calls and bat monitoring walk is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 4, and will be concentrated in the ponds around East Tennessee Technology Park. Wade Gefellers and Kitty McCracken of ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division will demonstrate how local bat populations are monitored and methods to identify local frog populations based on calls. Participants, limited to 25 with children allowed, will meet at the ETTP visitors overlook parking lot at 7 p.m.
The wildflower and old growth forest walk will take place between 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Walking will be off-trail in moderately rough terrain requiring participants to possess good balance and stamina. Native spring wildflowers as well as a stand of old growth trees thriving in the area for 240 years will be featured. Local botanists Larry Pounds and Paul Durr will lead the walk. Participants should meet at 1:30 p.m. at the West Guardhouse along Oak Ridge Turnpike. The walk is limited to 25 and children may participate.
The bird nature walk is scheduled between 7:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 25, in the area around ponds and wetlands close to Poplar Creek and the Clinch River near ETTP. Jim Evans of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will conduct the tour that will hopefully lead to viewing red-headed woodpeckers, migrating warblers and perhaps even a sora. Binoculars and a field guide to birds are recommended. Limited to 25 participants including children, the group should meet at 7:30 a.m. at the ETTP visitors overlook.
The invasive plant identification and treatment walk will be from 9 until 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at various sites along the reservation. Conducted by ORNL employees Kitty McCracken (Environmental Sciences Division) and Jamie Herold (Facilities and Operations Directorate), multiple sites will be visited to focus on identification, impacts to other local flora and fauna and treatment options for invasive plants. Limited to 20 participants including children, the group will meet at the West Guardhouse at 9 a.m.
The final spring walk features reptiles and amphibians from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 7, in the Solway Bend area. Led by John Byrd of the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO), the group will collect several turtle species and discuss local snake identification and management of local herpetological populations. Children are encouraged on this 20-person walk and will have opportunities to get involved and learn about the animals. Participants should meet at 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot south of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse roads.
Most of these walks will be along dirt and gravel roads of between one and two miles. Participants should dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring bug spray and water. A reliable flashlight or headlamp is also recommended during the April 4 night walk. Pets are not permitted.
Reservations for each walk must be made in advance by calling Tracy Clem at 865-574-5151 or [email protected]. If a walk needs to be postponed, a message will be placed at least two hours before the scheduled walk on ORNL’s Information Line at (865) 574-9836.
For more information, contact Trent Jett at (865) 574-9188 or [email protected].