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Fifth annual High Knob Naturalist Rally features canoeing, hiking, horseback riding

staff report • Sep 26, 2011 at 3:33 AM

Since its formation more than a decade ago, The Clinch Coalition has worked to promote the appreciation, understanding and protection of Jefferson National Forest — specifically High Knob, a 4,223-foot mountain at the heart of the Clinch Valley Bioreserve. Coalition members will tackle the appreciation part of their three-pronged mission with the fifth annual High Knob Naturalist Rally, set for Oct. 1 at Bark Camp Lake. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., with morning sessions starting at 10. Lunch, accompanied by music from the Strawberry Jam band, will be served at noon, while afternoon sessions will begin at 2 p.m. Admission to the day’s events is free, but donations will be accepted. “We have some unique things in store for our fifth annual rally,” said Diana Withen, Clinch Coalition president. “This year will feature canoeing on the lake, an outdoor survival course and a special after-lunch presentation by Mark Leonard of Trout Unlimited.” The event will offer hikes highlighting the flora and fauna of High Knob, including a snake and salamander hike with Kris Hoffman of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise; an edible and medicinal plant walk with “mountain granny” Carol Judy; and a biology hike with Lois Boggs, a wildlife biologist for the Jefferson National Forest’s Clinch Ranger District. Virginia-Wise Professor Phil Shelton will lead a session on the geology of High Knob, and Karen Davidson, chair of the Scott County Tourism Committee, will take participants on a geocaching hunt. Chad Miano and his team of horses will return for their popular horse logging demonstration during the afternoon session. New this year will be a crash course in outdoor survival skills by Clinch Coalition members Darby Yonce, Shane Carroll and Josh Larsen, and canoe trips to Bark Camp Lake’s wetlands by Justin Laughlin of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Because of the limited number of canoes available, reservations for the canoeing trip are required. In addition to his special afterlunch presentation, Trout Unlimited’s Leonard will lead a fly tying and casting session in the afternoon. Karen Hartsock will offer “Nature for Kids” activities during both the morning and afternoon sessions. “We believe that this and the other fun hikes and events TCC holds throughout the year are a great opportunity to get people outside, even if it is just for a day,” Withen said. “We hope that the experiences we share at the naturalist rally inspire people to make the most out of the treasures we have right here in Southwest Virginia all year long.” To register for canoeing or for more information, call (276) 523-5064 ext. 17 or (276) 479-2176; email clinchcoalition@lpoy.org ; or visit www.clinchcoalition.net .

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