Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chilly temps freeze lake

When we arrived to work yesterday, our thermometer read zero...this morning, it was a chilly 18 degrees. The lake has frozen in an interested oblong shape. I have attached some pictures below.

The springs are running, breaking up chunks of frozen mud.

When temps drop, rhododendron leaves curl up tightly. As the soil begins to freeze up and water uptake becomes more difficult for roots and as the dry, cold air above ground begins to sap moisture from plants, rhododendron and many other plants take precautions to conserve their moisture.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Local School Reaches Out To Galveston

Betty Massey, Executive Director of The Mary Moody Northen Endowment, sent me this story today. The MMNE owns and operates Mountain Lake and is located in Galveston, TX.

When Terri Robertson challenged her Virginia middle school to get involved in a civic project this year, she hardly imagined it would have her sliding through a Texas snowstorm in a U-Haul truck.

But that's what the principal of Ben Franklin Middle School in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and her husband did, driving to Galveston in a truck loaded with nearly 600 Christmas gifts for the students and faculty at Central Middle School.

It all began innocently enough, when Robertson asked her faculty to inspire students to take on a civic project to teach them more than the three Rs.

When she saw Hurricane Ike rise out of the Gulf of Mexico September 13, she knew her school had a mission.

"I went online and looked at Galveston, at the damage from the storm and then schools," she said. "Central Middle School caught my attention because its students seemed so similar to ours back home. We're a bigger school, 1,700 students, but our kids share so many things in common."

Robertson's first step was to contact Central Principal Connie Herbert and ask what would help most.

"It started out small, just our immediate needs," said Herbert. "We needed copy paper, for example. Mrs. Robertson sent boxes and boxes. We mentioned basic school supplies and equipment, pencils, paper, notepads and the like. She sent a trailed loaded with computers, phones, coffee pots, towels, school supplies, and cases of bottled water."

The the kids in Rocky Mount got involved. First they set personal, individually addressed Thanksgiving cards to every student and teacher.

Then they got their hands on 560 cereal boxes, filled them with gifts and wrapped each with care...most with a personal note, best wishes, hopes for recovery. There were contests to see who could make the most special package, and the packages reflected the personalities of the students who wrapped them.

"We all wanted to reach out to Galveston, to connect," Robertson said. "That's when my husband Mike and I decided to rent a truck and bring the gifts down here ourselves."

Three days, 1,250 miles and an uncommon snowstorm later, they arrived in Galveston and delivered their sleighful of kindness at Weis Middle School, where Central's students have been sharing space since the hurricane.

"It came on an important day," Herbert said. "It was the day we read in the paper that Central wouldn't be opening for a long while, maybe not until next year, and we all needed a boost. We love our school, we love each other, and this was just what we needed that day."

Galveston did her best to return the Robertson's kindness. There were tickets to museums, a comfortable room at the San Luis Hotel, a christmas party with the Central and Weis faculties.

Betty Massey, executive director of Galvestons, Mary Moody Northen Endowment, said everyone she contacted for help responded generously.

"Paul Schultz at the San Luis was a wonderful host," she said, "and the Robertsons really appreciated it- they said the San Luis was one of the finest hotels they'd ever stayed in, and hoped they could return on vacation. The Galveston Historical Foundation hosted them at their museums, everyone pitched in to help show our gratitude for such an incredible gift."

"We all care so much for our children," she said, "and we're overwhelmed that someone from so far away could do so much. It makes you wonder what we can do ourselves, right here at home."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Panoramic View

Panoramic view of the lakebed, courtesy of Jay Moore

Recent rain and snow has done wonders!

Look at these pictures taken today compared to the pictures that were taken back in October. The lake level is now what it looked like in early August. The lake has received over 2 inches of rain and a fair amount of snow in the past month. The boat that we could once see is now covered back up again and the tree at the far end of the lake is partially covered up. On November 25, I led a group down to the lake bed to look at the small pond and the boat. Now, we'd be submerged in water!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2008 Mt Lake Hemlock Summary

Courtesy of Tom McAvoy from the Dept of Entomology at Virginia Tech:

In 2008 we continued monitoring hemlock woolly adelgid at Mountain Lake. Our monitoring indicated that hemlock woolly adelgid numbers increased since 2007. Therefore, approximately 75 infested trees were treated with imidacloprid using soil injection. These trees were on the east side of the lake between Indian and Lower Jungle Trails. Hemlocks on Blueberry Ridget and around the hotel had no hemlock woolly adelgid. A total of 486 trees have been treated since this program in 2001. While 50 (10%) of the treated trees have died, 12, of the 55 untreated trees that have been monitored have died. This is a 22% mortality for trees that were never treated. Treating the hemlocks has saved a significant number of trees. Most of the mortality has occured along the Indian Trail.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

Our annual Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt was challenging and exciting! Families were given a sheet with a series of questions such as "Who discovered Mountain Lake and in what year?" Families also had to collect different items such as leaves from a coniferous & deciduous trees, rhododendron leaves and sedimentary rocks from the lake bed. They had to identify and take pictures of different animal tracks. The most challenging portion of the scavenger hunt was to hike as fast as you can to the highest point at Mountain Lake and take a picture of the view and record the elevation.

The first family back who had completed all the tasks including the grueling hike to Bald Knob on ice was the Moore family. Below are a few pictures, courtesy of Jay Moore.