Clean-Up at Bear Loop, a great way to practice Stewardship

With springtime comes Spring Cleaning, and Routine Maintenance, and parts of the great outdoors need it as much as our human homes. Everyone can join in at state parks in both Virginias, and with the Forest Service, and now in Bath County with the Nature Conservancy, to help celebrate Earth Day. We spoke with some one who has a lot of experience keeping trails accessible for people who enjoy them throughout the year.

“My name is Laurel Schablein, and I’m the Conservation Coordinator for the Allegheny Highlands program of the Nature Conservancy.   We’ll be hosting an Earth Day Preserve Stewardship event, that’s on April 22nd this year.”

“We’ll be planting Native Plants at the trail head; we’ll be installing some interpretive signage; we will be building a split rail fence, and picking up trash. We’ll also be moving some brush off of the roads to build wildlife piles in the woods that will serve as habitat for various wildlife.”

It’s been fifteen years since the Nature Conservancy purchased nine thousand acres and established the Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. Most hikers are familiar with the Ingalls Overlook trail. This Stewardship event offers a chance to get to know another beautiful part of the long, long ridge that is Warm Springs Mountain. A third Nature Conservancy Trail, Sandy Gap, makes it possible to walk through large parts of the National Forest, conservancy land and on into Douthat State Park. I asked Laurel what would be helpful for volunteers to have with them during the morning on the mountain.

“There’s no experience necessary, and we welcome all ages to participate. We ask that you bring, work gloves for the day, and dress appropriately, how you would for yard work.”

“Everybody should bring their own water. And you might want to stick a granola bar in your pocket, but we will be providing and appreciation lunch to follow the workday. We’ll be having a nice picnic right there up at the trail head on top of the mountain.”

Registration is still open. The Nature Conservancy website has an events page where you can register, or send an e-mail to You can also call 540-335-1302.

And where to meet on that sure-to-be gorgeous spring morning?


“We are meeting at the Bear Loop Trail Head on the Warms Springs Mountain Preserve, and that is right at the end of Airport Road adjacent to Ingalls Airfield entrance.”


Earth Day is a great time to get your Stewardship on, and Saturday the 22nd on the top of Warm Springs mountain in the Allegheny Highlands is one of the finest places to do that.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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