Though the forecast calls for a snowy mix, many visitors at Cacapon Resort State Park this weekend will be planning summer butterfly gardens during a three-day nature program with naturalists.
Biologist Sue Olcott and park naturalist Valerie Chaney will guide guests through a weekend of events that includes a birding excursion, a visit to Berkeley Springs, and an in-depth investigation of butterflies and workshop designed to help enthusiasts plan their own butterfly waystations and inspire community butterfly programs.
Pollinators provide $30 billion of pollination services annually in the U.S. alone, says Olcott, who will be discussing the habits and habitats of moths and butterflies through the weekend.
Science has determined that they're far more vital to our existence than we once thought, she said.
"About 75 to 80 percent of all plants are pollinated by insects or a few other pollinators, Olcoot offered Wednesday while preparing her presentation for the weekend.
"Out of every three bites of food we take, we have a pollinator to thanks for at least one—fruits and vegetables, coffee, chocolate, beef and dairy (from alfalfa fed stock), fibers like cotton and flax, oils from canola and sunflower."
Interested in attending the weekend? Here's a line-up of all the events in store:
7:30 p.m.—Cocoa & Chatter Join naturalist Valerie Chaney in the lodge lobby to earn a little about Cacapon, the lodge's expansion, and other park projects. Meet other guests, enjoy the warmth of the fire, and strike up some casual conversations with other like-minded guests. Board games and jigsaw puzzles will be available.
10 a.m. Winter Birding in West Virginia Meet the naturalist in the main lobby of Cacapon Lodge for a morning walk. Bundle up, if the weather is brisk. The excursion wander for about 45 minutes. Excellent for any age.
11:30-4 p.m. Nature Center The center maintains a remarkable collection of exhibits, animal mounts, and park and regional information. The structure is an example of the park foundation's work, dedicated to sharing nature with visitors and encouraging stewardship of resources. Park officials encourage everyone to drive or walk to the center sometime during the event.
Free Time: Berkeley Springs State Park The historical Town of Berkeley Springs is only a 15-minute drive from Cacapon. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the areas warm springs and learn the local history. Browse antiques and artisan shops, historic buildings, and Berkeley Springs State Park, which features roman baths and spa services. Make a reservation at the park bathhouse at 304-258-2711.
Lunch on your own. Dine off-park or from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the park dining room.
2 p.m.—Wild & Wonderful WV Art Collage Join artist and park volunteer Ari Gejevski at the Nature Center and make a collage with some of your favorite West Virginia State Park pictures—wildlife, flowers, scenery.
4:30 p.m.— Welcome to Cacapon If you're a first-time visitor to Cacapon and its lodge, this half-hour program in the lodge lobby will introduce you to this park’s history and unique resources.
4–5:30 p.m.—Monarch / Pollinator Display Join state biologist Sue Olcott, project leader for the state DNR Lepidoptera and Pollinator Conservation Initiative, in the lodge lobby. Talk one-on-one with Olcott, a bird watcher and state butterfly-and-pollinator conservation project leader. Olcott is an expert wild gardens, pollinator plots, and the conservation of native species.
4–5:30 p.m. VIPP Program Information with Clark Dixon The Very Important Parks Person Program (VIPP) has welcomed individuals, families and friends to park programs and recreation since 1985. The reward is enjoying special places across West Virginia, state parks and forests, sharing nature with children, and relaxing. If you are a VIPPer, stop by the lodge lobby, and pick up your name tag. Not a member? Learning more about the program. Clark welcomes the opportunity to meet and get you started in this special memory maker.
6 p.m.Winter Dinner in the Cacapon Restaurant Enjoy dining with new friends and old. Win a door prize and a Winter Dinner memento.
7:30 p.m. Monarch and Pollinator Conservation: Ecosystem Genesis West Virginia hosts more than 2,300 species of flowering plants, most of which are pollinated by insects or other animals. In the Washington-Fairfax Room, Olcott discusses pollinators that are integral to plant production, which sustains life on Earth. If you enjoy gardening, beekeeping, and landscaping with flowers, this is an evening program for you.
10 a.m.—Plan and Plant a Monarch Waystation Join Olcott at the Nature Center to plan and plant a monarch waystation and investigate citizen science programs you or groups you are involved with can create.
For more information on the weekend or the park in general, contact Capapon Resort State Park at 304-258-1022.
Cacapon is located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, a two-hour drive from the Washington, D.C., Mall, and a 30-minute drive from I-81 at Winchester, Virginia.
West Virginia gardeners can do much to support butterflies
Concerns about a decline in bees and butterflies have grown in recent years, but West Virginians have a unique opportunity to offer their lush environment to support pollination worldwide. Biologist Sue Olcott says there are a number of ways farmers and back-yard gardeners in West Virginia can support pollination while cutting back on property maintenance expenses, supporting the local economy, and improving the value of their properties. Read the full story here.