RVF Winter 2017 Newsletter



Enhancing the Quality of Life and Celebrating the People, Land and History of the Rockfish Valley



RVF Newsletter – January 2017

We are closed for the season after the Christmas holiday and will reopen April 2, 2017

The museum at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center is closed for the season except for special arrangements for groups. It reopens April 2, 2017. Please call ahead or look for an open sign. We have more than 40 volunteers who staff the museum. We are training new volunteers in February and March. Remember it has a great little gift shop and is always free and open to the public.

Where We Are Headed in 2017 With Our Environmental Literacy Focus

The Virginia State budget for 2017 eliminates the State’s Environmental Education Department and its Staff is already gone. At the same time there will be more state requirement that the schools include more environmental literacy in their programs. How do we help the teachers get to that point? How do we share the resources of Spruce Creek Park and the Natural History Center? We have a plan. We must complete funding our 2017 operating budget through our fund drive to do this. But here is where we have accomplished:

  • Funding from Nelson County Community Fund and SCHAENEMAN Foundation

  • Selection of Nelson school liaison to Rockfish Valley Foundation

  • RVF education committee now includes 12 people but we seek to add more members with experience in education.

In addition we are the initiator in seeking a large multi year grant that would help create tool box support for the teachers not only in Nelson but in surrounding counties of Louisa, Fluvanna, Albemarle, Greene and the city of Charlottesville. A number of non profits are collaborating on this with goal to file for grants in spring 2017.

Trail Development


Jeff McGann completing ADA surface of Native Plant Walk

Nelson Natural day will take place in May at Spruce Creek Park again with a collaboration of the Western Albemarle Environmental Academy. This supports the 4th grade at Rockfish Elementary. We have two programs on the calendar for the 5th graders at Rockfish Elementary. Arbor Day programs at both Tye River Elementary and Rockfish River Elementary are being considered if we find the capacity. We continue to seek interns for both projects and on a paid basis from the schools. Our connectivity with the Scouts has begun. We have two Eagle Scout projects under discussion.

The recreational trail grant from The Dept  of Conservation and Recreation requires a 20% match. That is $6000.  We do not have that in our operation budget. It allows us to seek reimbursement of $30,000 and complete the 11 projects.

Would you please consider a special gift to provide those matching funds!  Also, our fund drive is within $5000 of success and this eblast is the only request we are making  to seek donations for the budget and the matching funds. 
So your foundation is taking its education mission seriously

2017 Programs


In 2017 we are outlining plans for a number of programs. Already approved is a program with Lincoln Brower on the Monarch Butterfly. We are so fortunate to have him in our community. The second is a party at another historic house in the district. The South Rockfish Valley Rural Historic District will soon receive recognition form Governor McAuliffe as a Virginia Treasure. Already there are those encouraging us to extend the district boundary just established. That takes a community conversation but we could pursue that. Let us know what you think. One boundary considered would be Reid’s Gap. Probably the most Interesting program on the drawing board is an extensive one on invasive plants. It will involve PRISM of the Blue Ridge, VA DCR and USDA. We are assembling volunteers for that now if you are interested. It will be late summer. The last program is one on geology. Our Nelsonite program was a great success and there is obvious interest to learn more about Rockfish Valley Geology.

Save the date:
Kite Festival, April 9,
2017 from 11-3

We have updated much on our two websites so when winter keeps you in and you want to learn more about the neighborhood, take a look: www.rockfishvalley.org and www.nelsonscenicloop.com

Grants for Spruce Creek Park are being implemented.

We have 11 small projects to improve the Children’s Nature Trail, the Native Plant Walk and the Wildflower Meadows. We always need additional funding and volunteers but the bones are coming together so well you should stop and take a walk. One of these should be completed each month and all finished by fall.

Rockfish Valley Visitors and Information Center is open


Christmas Card photo after 100’s of hours restoring the Natural History Center

As many of you know, we have rack card holders with over 100 venues’ brochures, maps and general help on what to do and see in the Rockfish Valley and in Nelson County. Stop by and look all the exterior painting was done

P.S.- the huge amount of scraping, repair, priming and painting to the front of the building was done at no cost to the Rockfish Valley Foundation. Check it out. It looks wonderful. And no foundation funds were used to fight the pipeline impact on Rockfish Valley Foundation resources.




Contact Us:

Email: info@rockfishvalley.org
Office phone: (434) 226-0446
History center phone: (434) 361-0271

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RVF Fall 2016 Newsletter

Coming Sunday, October 16th, at 3PM

Celebrate Nelsonite with us

the new Virginia State Rock !




3-5 P.M. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2016

at Tuckahoe School, Stoney Creek, Nellysford

We are presenting the who, what, where, when, and why of Nelsonite at Tuckahoe School on Oct 16. The space holds 90 people and we can reserve you a spot but otherwise it is first come first seated. On May 31, 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe designated Nelsonite as the state rock of Virginia effective July 1, 2016. Here is a link to a Bureau of Mines document from 1970 which you can read to learn more about Nelsonite and Piney River and Roseland. (Bureau of Mines #1371). At the event we will have Lawrence Tiezzi, professor from PVCC who was behind the selection; state geologist, David Spears will also talk on the geology of the Rockfish Valley as well as Nelsonite; David Lipscomb from the Rock shop (RVCC) will talk about rock collecting; along with a few others will be presenting.
You will go away knowing so much more about our local geology and this special rock which is found in the Piney River / Roseland area of Nelson County

nelsonite sign

Following the presentation will be a geology walk along the rockfish river for 25 persons

Come get your Osage Oranges

Tis the season that the ELK HILL osage oranges fall into the field by the road at the entrance. Many of you know they are great for flower arrangements and for keeping away bugs in a basement. Come and get them. Just bring your own bags. Turn around at the little garage where the Persophene sculpture stands. If you want lots for a party let us know. The history of the Osage orange as brought to Thomas Jefferson by Lewis & Clarke is fascinating. Here is a link to the story: Osage Orange Tree

Prize Drawing

Gene Hughes is a local historian and a wood woodworker. He has made lots of wood items which he sells at the farmer’s market. He created a special 10th anniversary item for the Rockfish Valley Foundation. It is a walking stick made of Nelson Walnut and Nelson Stag antler. People who attended the celebration of the historic district Sept 18 registered to win it in a drawing. The drawing sign up will continue until December when a lucky winner will be selected at our volunteer party. If you come into the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center museum you can register. You may also register at the Nelsonite event on October 16. Thanks Gene !

good luck – someone will win.

Invasive Plants

spotted knapweed


We think one of the major problems for the environment is the spread of invasive plants. RVF hopes to do more to educate about this problem in the future. We have just been introduced to a new organization in Virginia with which we hope to collaborate. It is the Blue Ridge PRISM which is a partnership for regional invasive species management. They have an educational website Blue Ridge PRISM. Landowner funding is provided through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services located in Louisa, Virginia. They have just received almost $900,000 to disburse toapplicants in a 10 county area including Nelson (Natural Resources Conservation Service). If you have a farm you will be eligible for funding and consultation if you apply. There are 12 invasives identified as the ones to fight. You know some of them: spotted knapweed, kudzu, ailanthus and lespedeza. Let’s learn and take action now !

Rockfish Valley Foundation 10th anniversary was celebrated on September 18, 2016

Three Chimneys

Along with the recognition of the South rockfish Valley Historic district. The foundation is a Non profit recognized by Internal Revenue Service in August 2006. Over the 10 years there have been major accomplishments:

~ Dedication of the Rockfish Valley Birding Trails in September 2006 as part of the state wide system hosted by VA Dept of Game and Insland Fisheries. Design and installation of the Kids in Parks Trail affiliated with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Rockfish Valley Geology Trail.

~ Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center opened June 2012 affiliated with VA Museum of Natural History which plays host to thousands of visitors each year. Kids can become Rockfish Rangers and use our Camp Rockfish materials.

~ South Rockfish Valley Rural Historic District recognized by Virginia Department of Historic Resources on June 16, 2016 and U. S. Department of Interior, National Park Service August 15,2016

For THE FUTURE our goals are to complete the Spruce Creek Park Children’s Nature Trail and Spruce Creek Park Native Plant Walk and connect their resources to those in the Natural History Center. Equally important we plan to enhance our Collaboration with Nelson County Schools and promote Nelson Natural Day, field trips, Education and Environmental Literacy. To do this we need to build capacity. That means to raise money, get more volunteers and to create partnerships with others. Please consider a gift this year to our fund drive. That will be announced in early October. Also please consider giving time as a docent so we can find the 12 docents to staff a Wednesday opening. You will begin to learn so much about our community. There is no paid staff and no funding from Nelson County.

We are proud of our success and welcome your comments on what we can do better to serve our community.

Please go to www.rockfishvalley.org to donate or volunteer.

RVF Spring 2016 Newsletter




Email: info@rockfishvalley.org 
Office phone: (434) 226-0446 
History center phone: (434) 361-2071 



RVF Spring Newsletter


It’s our pleasure to bring you some news about RVF. For this newsletter we will link you to added content.  The 8th annual Rockfish Valley Kite Festival will be held on April 10,  11:00 – 3:00.  Last year there were 1400 people.  It is a free community event.

Major Need – April 10

Kite festival volunteers for parking, children kite assembly, and parachute races.
Please let us know right away.
Email: info@rockfishvalley.org 

Native Plant Walk

A major initiative for 2016, this project is in addition to completion work on the Children’s Nature Trail. It is a 450 foot native plant walk being designed and installed along Spruce Creek. Our advisor is Fran Boninti and our landscape designer pro bono is Anne Henley. See link to her bio. This is the trail laid out by Zach Barnes and parts are up for adoption by families in the community.


Butterfly Trail Recognized by Commonwealth

Here is a copy of the award we got from the Commonwealth and recognition of our butterfly walk.. And stay tuned as we are waiting to hear from Preservation Virginia on recognition of the Old Wintergreen Village and Coleman Mills as endangered places in the Commonwealth. This relates to our archaeology project and will occupy the community for 5 or more years as it develops. The trail and the archaeology site make up a 7 ½ acre site along Glenthorne, Rt 151 and Spruce Creek.


Volunteers Needed – for Natural History Center to stay open

This is the 10th anniversary year of Rockfish Valley Foundation.  We have grown a lot with our trials and natural history center.  Just imagine our growing pains!  To survive as an all volunteer organization without any paid staff is not easy. As we prepare to open the natural history center on April 2 for its 5th year we have a major need. We do not have the volunteers to stay open from 10 to 4 on Saturdays and Sundays. We are discussing reducing the hours unfortunately. We do not have the volunteers to open mid week for students and school groups.  We are  beginning a major effort to locate volunteers to share a shift at the natural history center on a weekend day from either 10 to 1 or 1 to 4.  That is only 3 hours and we have Kim Grosner to organize our calendar.  We have Kim, John Zawatsky and Peter Agelasto and others to train our new volunteers.  PLEASE CONTACT US at info@rockfishvalley.org or 434 226 0446 which is our google telephone messaging system. There is a Master Naturalist course under way in Nelson and we expect many graduates will add to our volunteer ranks. Our website is www.rockfishvalley.org

Volunteer needs:

  1. Helping to install replacement brochure boxes at kiosks, install a brand new enclosed weather proof bulletin board on the porch of the natural history center, install brochure boxes on our tourist info center kiosk, and open and install new trail maps at the kiosks. Need someone with a good screw gun.

  2. Docent volunteers to take 3 hour shift, on a Saturday or Sunday from 10-1 or 1-4 with another volunteer in the natural history center. You help the visitor enjoy the experience in whatever way you feel comfortable.

  3. Adopt a plant and interpret once or twice a year a small section of the new native plant walk, or help maintain the Children’s nature trail in Spruce Creek Park.

  4. KITE FESTIVAL – volunteer to help with parking and or putting kites together for children at the kite festival which is April 10, 11:00-3:00 off Glenthorne loop.

3 Important books for sale

Important: we have 10 copies of the out of print new book on native plants for the piedmont. The other two are published by the VA Department of Forestry. Each is $5.  Check the link below for the three best books for your garden library. See photos: http://www.rockfishvalley.org/blog/spring-2016-new-store-items/

Full Moons 2016

Link to list of 2016 Nelson County full moons and where the names originate: http://www.rockfishvalley.org/blog/2016-full-moons-in-nelson-county/

Much more is on the horizon

Monarch site development is more significant with  news from Mexico of increase in the 2016 butterfly development; dedication of 3 picnic tables in the park and along the trails; work on the children’s nature trail; dedication of the rebuilt Bridge over an unnamed tributary; addition of sculptures by Yates Spencer, garden art metal artisan from Lexington VA.  His garden art is worth a look: http://mingum.com/ 

Pipeline Update

ACP Pipeline has suggested a route through Beech Grove at Blue Toad Cider, the ELK HILL meadow bottoms along the South Rockfish River and the walking trails, crossing 151 close to the downstream  birding and walking trails over to Glenthorne Loop.  That is within 500 feet of the ELK HILL residence, the Camille Trail head parking etc.  If this is selected, the concern for those living in Horizons Village, Elk Hill and River Bluff would become  a major issue.  That is to be compared with the preferred route which destroys the Coleman Mills and Old Wintergreen Village archaeology site and newly recognized Butterfly trail as well as other natural and cultural resources which adjoin Bold Rock Cider.  Not a pretty picture.  But you need to know.

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