Spring and Earth Day liven up Douthat

Douthat State Park in southern Bath and northern Allegheny counties is one of the gems of these Highlands, which is especially nice to remember and visit this time of year. Boating began the first weekend of this month, and one of the peaceful things about the lake at Douthat is there is no gasoline powered boat traffic.   Different kinds of boats, including johnboats with and without electric motors, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are available to rent.

To celebrate Earth Week and Arbor Day several activities this weekend are free and open to all ages.   On Friday morning, park staff welcomes visitors to the Butterfly Garden behind the main office to join in winter litter pickup, weeding and mulching. Tools are provided, and no experience, only muscle, is required. As part of Stewardship Virginia, participants will receive a signed note of appreciation from the Governor. Stewardship Virginia is a statewide initiative implemented twice a year by the Department of Conservation and Recreation or DCR. Its purpose is to increase citizens’ participation in any activities that address the following goals:

  • enhance water quality
  • control invasive species
  • improve recreational resources
  • preserve historic and cultural resources
  • conserve natural heritage resources
  • educate people about recreational, historical, cultural, wildlife, forest and water resources
  • improve wildlife habitat and tree cover

The volunteer work happening at Douthat on Friday and Saturday is part of this initiative.

At one o’clock at the Discovery Center, there is a workshop on growing Wildflowers in recycled materials. Everyone will make, or receive, his or her own newspaper pot with seeds ready to sprout to take home.

On Saturday Douthat Dwellers takes place with a focus on honeybees. Visitors will learn about how bees make honey, and some interesting bee facts. With the increasing public interest in pollinators, and its own butterfly garden, Douthat offers a great setting to renew your interest, or learn something new about the importance of all of the “pollinators in peril” in our food system. At one o’clock, visitors meet again at the Discovery Center for Skulls and Skins. Park staff will offer little more practical knowledge about processing hides, and some of the Native American techniques for tanning, and preparing leather to be made into useful items. Also, skulls and pelts will be available for participants to practice identifying which animals they may have come from.

Later in the afternoon a history walk by the lake includes looking at some of the oldest structures in the park, some of the following history:

“ The establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps CCC as part of the emergency Conservation Works by President Roosevelt in 1933 provided the means for development of the parks. An estimated 600 men lived and worked at the three camps responsible for building Douthat’s facilities. Between 1933 and 1942, these men cleared trails, built a dam and spillway, cabins, a guest lodge, a restaurant, an information center, superintendent’s residence, swimming beach, picnic areas and maintenance buildings. The structures are embellished with hand-carved wooden doorknobs and hinges, as well as hand-wrought iron hardware, light fixtures and door and shutter latches. The built and natural features of the park have remained virtually unchanged since construction. “

With appreciation to the Department of Conservation and Recreation for some of the information in this report:


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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