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ORR Nature Walks for 2020 scheduled

Short-leafed spring beauties are among the Oak Ridge Reservation flora than can be spotted on this season’s Nature Walks. Photo: Trent Jett

On the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), located in East Tennessee, more than 1100 vascular plants, 72 fish, 34 mammals and over 200 bird species have been observed. This year the public is invited to nine nature walks designed to highlight not only the rich flora and fauna diversity of the reservation, but also to demonstrate the work being done to sustainably manage and conserve this resource. Walks will take place on several locations across the ORR beginning in late winter through mid-summer.

Reservations for the following events must be made in advance by noon the Thursday prior to each walk by contacting Tracy Clem, 865-574-5151 (bodinetm@ornl.gov). No pets, please. More information about these walks is available by contacting Trent Jett at 865-574-9188 (jettrt@ornl.gov).

More Than Fur - Mammal Hike – Solway Bend

Date: Saturday, March 14
Location: Meet at the parking lot behind (i.e. south of) the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse Roads.
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Leader: Lindsey Hayter (biologist), Sarah Darling (ORNL)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: Come join us for a hike to search for the signs mammals leave, and how having them around can benefit you.  Learn about what they're "saying."  There will be an opportunity to get hands on with pelts, and skulls of some of the most common mammals found on the ORR and discuss the physical adaptations that can help you to identify them. Walking will be through fields and over dirt and gravel roads. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water.

Wildflower and old growth forest walk

Date: Sunday, April 12
Location: Meet at West Guardhouse, Oak Ridge Turnpike (Hwy 95)
Time: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Leader: Larry Pounds and Paul Durr (botanists)
Limit: 25 (children are allowed)

Description: We will see many native spring wildflowers as well as a stand of old growth trees which has been thriving for over 240 years. Walking will be off trail, in moderately rough terrain (distance about 1.5 miles). Since this is an off trail hike in rocky country, participants need to have good balance and stamina. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring bug spray and water. Be aware that there may be some shallow wet areas we will be walking through, boots are recommended.

Bird nature walk – Freels Bend

Date: Saturday, April 25
Location: Meet at the parking lot behind (i.e. south of) the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse Roads
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Leader: Trent Jett, Sarah Darling and Neil Giffen (ORNL)
Limit: 25 (children are allowed)

Description: Walking will be over dirt and gravel roads (distance 1-2 miles). Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring bug spray, field guide to birds, binoculars, and water. We should see birds of prey and many sparrows in the extensive native grass fields, migrating warblers in the early successional and mature forested areas, and wading birds in the waters along the Clinch River.

Fish and aquatic insects – Bear Creek

Date: Saturday, May 16
Location: Meet at North Boundary Greenway trailhead west, Oak Ridge Turnpike (Hwy 95). Near Hwy 58 and 95 junction.
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Leader: Trent Jett (ORNL)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: We will visit lower Bear Creek where we will learn about the local fish and aquatic insect populations that are native to the ORR. Techniques for collection of aquatic organisms will be demonstrated and participants will have an opportunity to help. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring bug spray and water. Wear older shoes or rubber boots if you would like to get in the creek and help! Some waders will be made available also.

Impacts and control of invasive plants – Heritage Center Greenway Powerhouse Trail

Date: June date TBD
Location: Meet at ETTP visitors overlook, Oak Ridge Turnpike (Hwy 58)
Time: 9 to 11 a.m.
Leader: Kitty McCracken (ORNL)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: We will observe and discuss many species of exotic invasive plants that occur in east TN and their impacts on local flora. In addition, we will demonstrate and discuss techniques for control of invasive plants including mechanical, chemical, and use of prescribed fire. Bring plenty of questions, discussion is a major component of this educational walk. Walking will be mostly along gravel/dirt roads. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water.

Reptiles and amphibians inventory – Solway Bend

Date: Sunday, June 7
Location: Meet at the parking lot behind (i.e. south of) the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse Roads.
Time: 1 to 4:30 p.m.
Leader: John Byrd and Kathy Strunk (CRESO)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: We will collect several turtle species, talk about local snake identification and discuss management of local herpetological populations. There will be plenty of opportunities for children to get involved and learn about the animals. Walking will be through fields and over level dirt and gravel roads (limited distances). Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water.

Town or Country: How to Make Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat – Freels Bend

Date: Saturday, June 13
Location: Meet at the parking lot behind (i.e. south of) the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse Roads.
Time: 9 a.m. to noon
Leader: Lindsey Hayter (biologist), Sarah Darling, Jamie Herold (ORNL)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: Come learn how to make your backyard into a habitat both you and your wildlife neighbors can enjoy.  From bird feeders to bat boxes, we'll talk about what structures will be the most useful in your neighborhood.  During our walk we'll discuss strategies used on the Oak Ridge Reservation to landscape with native plants, removal of invasive plants, and the various types of techniques that can enhance your property for wildlife.  Walking will be through fields and over dirt and gravel roads. Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water.

History Talk at Historic Freels Cabin – Freels Bend

Date: Saturday, August 22
Location: Meet at the parking lot behind (i.e. south of) the ORISE building at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse Roads.
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Leader: Mick Wiest (host)
Limit: 20 (children are allowed)

Description: We will discuss the history of the ORR and the families which lived in the area. The walk will be held at the historic Freels Cabin, which will be open for touring. Walking will be through fields and over level dirt and gravel roads (very limited distances). Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science.