Archive of Past News & Events



Becky Rader and fungal specimens

Last Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (22 August 2013): Becky Rader (far left in the picture at left) presented the Fungi of Wildwood in the last Outdoor Classroom Lecture of the year. Many recently found specimens were available for examination, and a short field trip along the bikeway presented a magnificent specimen of White-Pored Chicken of the Woods. Check back in the spring for news of next year's Outdoor Classroom lectures.



Identification Key to the Woody Plants of Wildwood Park Based on Their Leaves Now Available (15 August 2013): Two years ago we put an interactive online Wildflower Identification Key that enables anyone with a computer or mobile device to identify a wildflower in Wildwood Park by answering questions about the flowere. Now we have a companion interactive online key that allows users to identify any woody plant --tree, shrub or vine -- known to grow in Wildwood. Under "Today" on the website, go to the "Flora and Fauna" page and choose the Woody Plant Identification Key. Then follow the steps and answer the questions about the plants leaves until you find its ID. The key was designed and organized by Radford University Biology majors Chris Nuckols and Jake Christman under the direction of professors Gary Coté and Christine Small. Please let us know of any errors or glitches, and any missing trees or shrubs. E-mail the webmaster.

Fifth Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (8 August 2013): The rain came and more threatened, so the fifth lecture had to be moved to the Recreation Center. Still a fair number attended to hear RU Biology professor Judy Guinan talk about the research she and her RU colleague Jason Davis have been doing on Radford's bluebirds. The audience learned why all the trail-side bird boxes in Wildwood Park and on the Riverway are so important for one of our loveliest native birds. August 22 will see the last lecture of the year when when Rebecca Rader, Master Naturalist and member of the NRV Mushroom Club, talks about the mushrooms and other fungi of Wildwood. More information.

Dr. Judith Guinan


Karen Francl

Fourth Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (25 July 2013): RU Biology professor Karen Francl presented the results of the hidden camera project at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. The audience got a glimpse of the animals that wander the plant when no people are watching them. Next lecture is August 8th when RU behavioral ecologist Judy Guinan will speak us about the reproductive behaviorof Wildwood's bluebirds. More information.



Title on screen
Third Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (11 July 2013): Radford University biology professor Dr. Christine Small told a large crowd of interested folk about efforts to conserve the wild heritage of the Appalachian Mountains, specifically efforts to protect plants of medicinal value by sustainable harvesting. Next lecture is July 25; come to learn about the wildlife camera project at the Radford Arsenal. More information.
Dr. Christine Small


Frank Taylor and Karen Francl

Second Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (27 June 2013): Radford High School Biology teacher Frank Taylor and RU Biology professor Karen Francl presented Adams Cave to a fascinated audience. Following the presentation groups of about ten people at a time were led into to the cave to experience the underground world for themselves. Presumably all came back, dirty but awed. Next lecture is in two weeks; come to learn about the conservation of medicinal forest plants of the Appalachians. More information.

Photo credits: Nancy Kent. The webmaster completely forgot to come and spent his time vacuuming instead!

Descending into Adam's Cave


Frank Taylor presenting snakes

First Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2013 (13 June 2013): Radford High School Biology teacher Frank Taylor (left) presented the world of Virginia snakes to an audience of about 70 people at the first Outdoor Classroom Lecture of the year. People gathered at dusk to hear about snakes and to get a chance for hands-on encounters with some of Virginia's many harmless snakes (right). Next lecture is in two weeks; come to learn about and visit Adam's Cave. More information.

Photo credits: Left, Rebecca Quesenberry Dunn. Right, Dawn Nelson.

Young girl with snake

Annual Wildwood Wildflower Walk (April 13, 2013): The weather was lovely this year for the annual trip to see the spring wildflowers of Wildwood. This popular annual event was co-sponsored each year by the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and by Pathways for Radford. This year the co-leaders were Wildwood Webmaster and RU Biology professor, Gary Coté, and VNPS New River Valley Chapter president, David Darnell. The Dutchman's breeches were at their glorious peak, and the dwarf larkspurs were beginning to bloom. Many other spring favorites were also seen.

Looking for lichens on the fence
Lichen Walk ( 9 March 2013): Dr. Gary Coté, RU biologist and webmaster for the Park, led a a group of curious folk on a hike through the Park looking for lichens. Lichens are fungi that have evolved to keep algae within their bodies. The algae provide the fungi with food and the fungi protect the algae. Lichens are found all over the Park, in the treetops, on bark, on rocks, and even on the fences (left). Although many must be seen through a hand lens or microscope to be appreciated, others are quite showy. Participants were able to take many pictures for their personal study (right). To learn more about the Parks lichens, visit the Fungi page. Visit it often as we are still learning about these fascinating organisms in the Park.
Photographing lichens

New feature on Website (2 January 2013): Updates. This new page will list changes made to the website, such as new species pages, corrections to the species lists and pages, new features added, and so on. This will be of use to anyone using the website as a resource who may be interested in new information or corrected information.


Fallen Tree that Threatened Bridge is Removed (September 26, 2012)

The huge tree that came down in the June derecho and nearly took out the bridge over Connelly's Run (see pictures on Storm Damage Page and below) has been removed. Workers brought in a huge crane to lift the chopped up pieces of the tree away from the bridge. The picture at left shows the crane dwarfing the workers and the kiosk. At right, a good chunk of the tree is in motion oout of Connelly's run and up onto the bank. Below left, workers are attaching the remaining rootball to the crane, and at center the rootball is being deposited onto the bank. The crane came complete with a scale to weigh the pieces and the root ball was found to mass 5000 pounds!! At right below we can see the bridge with the tree gone.

This was the webmaster's favorite tree in the whole Park. The far bank at the end of the bridge looks so forlorn with it missing.

Fallen tree being removed
Attaching rootball to crane
The root ball comes down
Bridge with tree removed

Trees in stream partially removed

Repair and Major Cleanup from Derecho Starts (September 2012)

Workers have started the major cleanup and trail repair from the damage done by the derecho of June 29th. Below, a little caterpillar tractor is working to repair the Westside Trail above the footbridge. At left, the trees fallen into Connelly's Run have been trimmed back so they no longer touch the water. At right, the giant buckeye that nearly took out the bridge has been radically trimmed back. We can hope the Park will be back to near normal by winter.

Tree by bridge
Little Cat Tractor on Trail
Little Cat Tractor at Work


Pathways for Radford Begins Cleanup from Derecho (18 August 2012)
Cleaning up North Meadow

On a beautiful Saturday morning, members of the Radford community turned out to help Pathways for Radford begin the cleanup from the derecho that damaged the Park June 29th. Chainsaws were deployed to clear the debris from the North Meadow area, near the kiosk and footbridge over Connelly's Run. At left, the workers are dragging out debris and at right we can see the resulting debris piles.

Below left, we can see the area that was cleaned up. The fallen buckeye that nearly took out the bridge is visible behind the kiosk. Compare pictures from shortly after the storm on the storm damage page.

Debris piles from North Meadow cleanup
Kiosk & bridge after cleanup

Work also started on the portion of the lower Westside Trail that was completely blocked by debris (below left and center). The smaller branches were cleared, but the larger trunks were left, as can be seen in the right-hand picture taken from picnic area across the Run, because they were deemed possibly unstable. It would probably be safest to avoid that section of the trail for now. But, again compare to the original damage.

The city is working to engage a contractor who will remove the unstable and potentially dangerous trees from the trails and repair the damaged trails. The contractor will also remove the two large trees down over Connelly's Run south of the footbridge --the one's whose branches were removed today -- as these present a danger to the bridge.

Although the debris from the North Meadow will be hauled away, most of the debris from the storm will be left in the Park to decay naturally, to feed the fungi, and to restore nutrients to the soil to support the trees that will grow up to replace those lost.

Clearing Lower Westside Trail

Clearing lower Westside Trail

Lower Westside Trail after cleanup


Karen Francl

Last Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (August 16, 2012): Karen Francl of Radford University came to tell the rapt audience about the small mammals that call Wildwood Park and Virginia home. Voles, shrews, mice, squirrels and moles were all considered. Preserved specimens from the RU collection were examined. Live critters from the SELU conservancy were introduced to the audience. This was the last outdoor lecture of the summer. We hope to see you again next year.

Checking live specimens

Some of the RU collection


Fifth Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (August 2, 2012): This time was the weather was beautiful, if a bit warm, and around half a hundred people showed up to hear Jeff Brown of Radford High School tell all about salamanders, especially those of the New River Valley. A few live salamanders were also on hand to enchant the audience. Join us in two weeks for the final talk of the summer, on small mammals in Wildwood.
(Sorry, no pictures -- my camera is in the shop!)

Fourth Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (July 19, 2012): A front moved in with driving rain and thunder, but everything had already been set up and so the show had to go on despite the weather. For those intrepid souls that showed up, Clyde Kessler presented the butterflies of Wildwood and the surrounding areas. One of the most important discoveries Clyde mentioned was his discovery of Mitchell's Satyr in Virginia in 1998.

(The webmaster being out of town, thanks go to Nancy Kent for the news and picture.)

Clyde Kessler


Jason Reger and friend

Third Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (July 5, 2012): Close to half a hundred people showed up to hear about snakes of Virginia, both harmless and poisonous, from Jason Reger of Blue Ridge Wildlife Management. Some snakes were on hand for demonstration and some audience members got a hands-on introduction. For upcoming lectures, see complete schedule.
Screen Shot


Close encounter


Storm! (30 June 2012). Ferocious storms struck Virginia on the evening of June 30th, with winds up to 80 mph. In Wildwood the winds caused damage throughout the Park. Large limbs came down, trees shattered and toppled. Several trees were down on the east slope, but many were lost on the west slope. A falling buckeye ripped up a chunk of the trail on the west side. Other portions of the trail were impassable with debris. We nearly lost a bridge and a kiosk. Imagine the terror of the wildlife that lived in those trees.

Parks and rec will be working hard to clear the trails and get them useable again. The Park will heal. There will be major changes in where plants grow as some areas are covered with debris and others are now opened up and much sunnier. The wood-rotting fungi should benefit greatly. New trees will fill in where the old ones fell. Watch for the changes.

More Pictures

Tree down on footbridge


Rob Speiden

Second Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (June 21, 2012): Over two dozen hardy folk braved the threat of storms to walk through Wildwood seeking signs that animals had been by here. Rob Speiden, of the Natural Awareness Tracking School pointed out the evidence, from deer nibbles to squirrel trash to wasp nests to deer bedrooms. Join us July 5th to learn about poisonous snakes. For more, see complete schedule.
The group searching for signs
Speiden explains the evidence

Fourth Fungus Foray a minor success (June 16, 2012): The New River Valley Mushroom Club surveyed Wildwood once again, and reported several new fungi. We are grateful to this organization for repeatedly examining the fungi of the Park. For the fungi currently known from the Park, see the Fungi page.

First Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2012 (June 8, 2012): In the inaugural lecture for 2012, Shane Brandes and his falcon, Linc, were a big hit as they made a presentation on the ancient sport of falconry. Join us in two weeks for the second lecture on Animal Tracking. A complete schedule for the lecture series is available.

(The webmaster being out of town, thanks go to Nancy Kent for the news and picture.)

Shane Brandes & Link

Spring Flower Walk 2012   Annual Wildwood Wildflower Walk (April 7, 2012): The weather was cool, but over a dozen intrepid folk turned out to see the spring wildflowers of Wildwood. This popular annual event is co-sponsored each year by the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and byPathways for Radford. It was co-led this year by Wildwood Webmaster and RU Biology professor, Gary Coté, and by VNPS New River Valley Chapter president, David Darnell. Because so many things were early this year we observed many flowers we've rarely or never seen on earlier trips. Conversely, many of our favorites were already done blooming for the year.

Last Outdoor Classroom Lecture of 2011 (18 August 2011): Jim Parkhurst of VT's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation told an audience of around 30 people how coyotes have become one of the newest species to call Virginia home. He assured them that coyotes are here to stay. While this is great news for Virginia's biodiversity, coyotes do cause problems and present dangers. He explained how we can reduce those problems and learn to live with one of our newest neighbors, now found throughout the state. This was the last Outdoor Classroom Lecture for the summer. Join us next summer for evenings of fascinating talks.
Jim Parkhurst
David Horton
Seventh Outdoor Classroom Lecture (4 August 2011): On a hot evening, David Horton, chair of the Radford Commission on Beautification and Municipal Forests, explained why trees are cool in so many ways. They provide us with natural products and oxygen, filter our rainwater, give beauty and shade, and, yes, cool the climate. Happily he was able to report that Radford's trees are doing pretty well, not only in Wildwood, but in other parks, on streets, and on private property. Almost two dozen people came away with a enhanced appreciation of trees.

Wildflower Identification Key Debuts (22 July 2011): See a flower in Wildwood you don't know? The wildflower list probably has it, but how can you find it on the list if you don't know what it is? Now there is help in figuring it out. Under Today go to the Flora and Fauna page and choose the Wildflower Identification Key. Then follow the steps to find your flower. This is a project still under construction, so if your flower is yellow or white, you will have to wait a bit longer, hopefully no later than the end of the year. The key is being built by Radford University Biology major Kiersten Newtoff under the direction of professors Gary Coté and Christine Small, however, she also had a lot of help from former Biology students Dwight Meikle and Jessica Sosnicki, who have graduated. Since this is still a work in progress, please let us know of any errors or glitches, and any missing flowers. E-mail the webmaster.

Sixth Outdoor Classroom Lecture (21 July 2011): Nancy Kent likes to be known as an ardent student of Wildwood Park. About two dozen people showed up to see her beautiful photographs and to share with her the lessons she has learned from the Park.
Nancy Kent
Some of the audience

Fifth Outdoor Classroom Lecture (7 July 2011): From the looks of Dini Miller's first slide, her talk might have been titled Jaws. A rapt audience heard her describe the remarkable insects that can devour wood. Live colonies of carpenter ants and termites were available for examination. Join us again July 21 for Wonders of Wildwood, one person's rewarding exploration of the Park.
Dini Miller
Examining a carpenter ant colony


Special Outdoor Classroom Lectures for Bike Virginia 2011

This year Bike Virginia's annual tour was centered on the New River Valley, with many participants camping in Radford. To coincide with their visit Pathways included two special lectures in the Outdoor Classroom Series. On Sunday, June 26, Jerry Via gave his ever-popular Songs of the Night presentation, introducing the creatures that make those mysterious, haunting calls in the night. This is the third time Wildwood has been honored to host this presentation.

Jerry Via

Then, on Monday, June 27th, Radford High School teacher Frank Taylor gave a hands-on presentation of the many invertebrates that call Connelly's Run home. Participants were able to collect creatures from the Run and to examine them under the microscope.

Join us in July and August for the regular Outdoor Classroom Lectures. More information above.

Sampling Connelly's Run

Carl Hansen  
Second Outdoor Classroom Lecture (23 June 2011): A full classroom attended Carl Hansen's presentation on Bluebirds. Carl is passionate about bluebirds and maintains the bluebird boxes in Wildwood and Bissett Parks. His presentation included videos, including intimate views of what goes on inside those boxes, data on 5 years of maintaining the boxes in Radford, and demonstration of actual bluebird houses and nests. Note that several upcoming Outdoor Classroom Lectures will be held in the near future, some coinciding with Bike Virginia passing through.
Bluebird boxes and nests
The crowd

Second Mushroom Survey (12 June, 2011): The New River Valley Mushroom Club, in cooperation with Pathways for Radford and the Virginia Native Plant Society sponsored the second ever survey of the fungi of Wildwood. Despite the hot weather and threatening clouds, almost a dozen people joined to search for fungi and to identify what they found. As summer is not a peak time for fungi, it was not surprising that only a few new species were found for the Park; these will appear soon on the fungal species page. A third survey is planned for September.

First Outdoor Classroom Lecture Driven Indoors (9 June 2011): The first Outdoor Classroom Lecture, scheduled for June 9th, had to be moved indoors on account of the threatening thunderstorm bearing down on the Park. Reports are that the talk was fascinating anyway and that attendees had a great time. We hope that good weather will hold during the next lecture on Bluebirds. More information on these lectures and a complete schedule are available.

New page on the relationships of the plants of Wildwood. A new page is available in the Today section under the Fauna and Flora. This page lists the plants of Wildwood and describes their phylogeny, or their evolutionary relationships to each other. This page will be of particular interest to botany students, but all may find it useful to see how the plants we enjoy in Wildwood are related to each other. Check out this Plant Phylogeny Page. Still in progress is an interactive key to identifying the wildflowers of Wildwood. We hope this will be partly implemented by the end of summer, and finished by the end of the year.

Annual Wildwood Wildflower Walk (April 9, 2011): Almost a dozen people braved the drizzle on the morning of April 9 to visit the spring wildflowers of Wildwood. The trip was co-sponsored by the New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and Pathways for Radford, and was co-led by Wildwood Webmaster and RU Biology professor, Gary Coté, and VNPS New River Valley Chapter president, David Darnell. The Dutchman's Breeches were at their finest and many other flowers were also spotted. Some of the hardy souls on the walk paused for a group picture before heading home afterward. Wilflower Walk 2011

Changes coming to the Biodiversity (Flora and Fauna) webpages. (March 10, 2011): The pages detailing the plants and animals known from the Park have been popular and have triggered feedback from all over the country. To be perfectly honest, however, they are rather clunky, especially the enormous list of wildflowers in alphabetical order by scientific name. Even the webmaster has trouble finding things on that list sometimes! Some new pages have been in preparation that we hope will make the website even more useful. The first of these is now debuting -- an alphabetical list of all plants known or reported from the Park, with both scientific and common names listed. In some cases, multiple common names are listed. For some plants with recent changes in the Latin names, the old names, still found on many websites and in guide books are also listed. Try this page out and give me feedback on how it works for you. Still in preparation: a phylogenetic list of all plants by evolutionary relationships --especially useful for students --and an interactive, user-friendly identification key to Wildwood's wildflowers. Watch for them.

It's officially spring in Wildwood. (March 10, 2011): Even though it's still March and can be cold at time -- snow is even possible in the future -- and even though the calendar won't say spring for a couple of weeks, wildflowers have been blooming in the Park for a few weeks now. Coltsfoot, spring beauty, Persian speedwell, and hairy bitter cress have all been reported.

Earlier News

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