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Leopold's Preserve

Leopold's Preserve Leopold's Preserve is a 380-acre nature preserve in PWC, VA. Come explore our seven miles of trails! Access to the Preserve is by foot only.

Bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.

Operating as usual

Yum! This red-bellied woodpecker seemed to be thoroughly enjoying its breakfast. Yes, you read that right! Though the br...
01/27/2023

Yum! This red-bellied woodpecker seemed to be thoroughly enjoying its breakfast.

Yes, you read that right! Though the bright red cap seems to be their most distinctive feature, these birds are actually named for the light pink color low on their underbellies, which can be difficult to see from a distance. They are sometimes mistakenly called "red-headed woodpeckers", but that refers to an entirely different species.

Can you ID this common tree? 🌳 It has smooth gray bark with rippling ridges🌳 It thrives in wet, shady areas🌳 It is part ...
01/26/2023

Can you ID this common tree?
🌳 It has smooth gray bark with rippling ridges
🌳 It thrives in wet, shady areas
🌳 It is part of the Birch family
🌳 Its wood is very tough and dense

Did you guess it? This is Carpinus caroliniana, the American Hornbeam. Another common name is "musclewood" - notice how those ridges in the bark sort of resemble a flexed muscle? You can find Hornbeams in the southern and eastern portions of the Preserve, where they proliferate in the understory of our forests.

Hornbeam is also part of our tree walk! Put your winter ID skills to the test: www.leopoldspreserve.com/tree-walk

There's still time to register for our next Winter Lecture! One week from today, we'll be learning all about how to coex...
01/25/2023

There's still time to register for our next Winter Lecture! One week from today, we'll be learning all about how to coexist with beavers. Join us at 10 AM in the Villages of Piedmont II Clubhouse on Wednesday the 1st to deepen your knowledge of these fascinating rodents! Register at https://qrs.ly/lieau3w

We had a great time at this weekend's Geology Walk! Michael of the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy taught us about the Tr...
01/23/2023

We had a great time at this weekend's Geology Walk! Michael of the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy taught us about the Triassic Basin and how geology influences ecology and history here at Leopold's Preserve. Couldn't join us this time? Visit leopoldspreserve.com/calendar for details about all of our upcoming programs!

New Wood Duck boxes! Thank you to all the volunteers who helped build these boxes back in June. Now, our Park Manager is...
01/20/2023

New Wood Duck boxes! Thank you to all the volunteers who helped build these boxes back in June. Now, our Park Manager is installing them around our wetlands and ponds. We're hoping to see lots of baby Wood Ducks this spring!

Though beavers are an essential part of healthy wetland ecosystems, they are sometimes considered a nuisance due to nega...
01/19/2023

Though beavers are an essential part of healthy wetland ecosystems, they are sometimes considered a nuisance due to negative impacts on human property. If you'd like to learn more about these fascinating rodents, including how to coexist with them, sign up to attend our upcoming lecture led by our friends at the Human-Beaver Coexistence Fund. The lecture will be presented indoors in the VOP II Clubhouse (6770 Pinchot Ln, Haymarket) from 10 AM - 11 AM on Wednesday, February 1. We hope to see you there! Register at: https://qrs.ly/lieau3w

This weekend's naturalist walk, led by our friends at the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, will focus on our local geolog...
01/18/2023

This weekend's naturalist walk, led by our friends at the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, will focus on our local geology. The western parts of Prince William County are part of the Culpeper Basin - a low area that formed when North America and Africa were pulled apart during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea. Many of these basins were formed along the East Coast as the two continents diverged. Over time they filled with sediment from the eroding Blue Ridge Mountains, creating unique geological profiles that influence soil chemistry - and thus, ecological communities - to this day. Learn more about geology at Leopold's Preserve on Saturday, January 21 at 10 am!

01/17/2023

Last month, we captured two young bucks locking antlers near Pinkard's Loop.

The common name "yellowjacket" can refer to many different wasp species, including, confusingly, the bald-faced "hornet"...
01/13/2023

The common name "yellowjacket" can refer to many different wasp species, including, confusingly, the bald-faced "hornet" (which is not a true hornet). Several yellowjacket species prefer to build exposed aerial nests out of wood fiber, which they chew into a pulp with their strong mandibles. They typically use their nests for only one year and abandon them over the winter. This time of year, you might spot a fallen abandoned nest like this one - check it out for a neat view into yellowjacket engineering!

Our high count for Trumpeter Swans this week is nine! Have you had a chance to see them yet?
01/12/2023

Our high count for Trumpeter Swans this week is nine! Have you had a chance to see them yet?

"That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of...
01/11/2023

"That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics." --Aldo Leopold

Today marks the birthday of Aldo Leopold, the inspiration behind Leopold's Preserve. A giant of American conservation, Leopold pioneered his famous "land ethic" in the 1940s. This ethic defines a community which Leopold called "the land". It includes soil, water, plants, animals, and humans. Leopold believed that humans, as part of the land, should care for and respect their community. His ideas about harmony between people and land have inspired the White House Farm Foundation's work here at Leopold's Preserve.

You can see Canada Geese year-round at the Preserve, but during the winter their numbers swell, boosted by birds migrati...
01/09/2023

You can see Canada Geese year-round at the Preserve, but during the winter their numbers swell, boosted by birds migrating from the Arctic. This can make things a little crowded in our wetlands! Outside of the breeding season these birds are generally sociable, traveling in loosely related family units. However, anyone who has been on a family vacation can attest that it's not always smooth sailing! When annoyed, Canada Geese will call out, flap their wings, or chase down other birds.

Local birders have counted hundreds of Canada Geese here in recent days - come stroll around Wood Duck Way and see them for yourself!

This month's homeschool programs are fast approaching! Older kids (13+) can learn about geology on Tuesday the 10th, whi...
01/06/2023

This month's homeschool programs are fast approaching! Older kids (13+) can learn about geology on Tuesday the 10th, while the All Ages geology program will be held on Wednesday the 18th. Winter is a great time to see our rock formations in all their glory! Register with our partners Bull Run Mountains Conservancy at: https://www.brmconservancy.org/calendar-of-events

Cattle corrals like this one give farmers an up-close view of their herd. This is helpful when deciding which animals to...
01/05/2023

Cattle corrals like this one give farmers an up-close view of their herd. This is helpful when deciding which animals to sell, administering vaccinations, and checking for illnesses. Today, corrals are typically made of metal. This structure was built from what local residents had on hand, and even incorporated live trees as supports to save on materials cost.

We had a great time at this morning's lecture! Valerie of the Virginia Cooperative Extension taught us about the importa...
01/04/2023

We had a great time at this morning's lecture! Valerie of the Virginia Cooperative Extension taught us about the importance of stormwater management, then we headed out into the Preserve to see the Broad Run watershed up close. We also explored our unique stormwater management pond, which is surrounded by native vegetation instead of more typical turf grass. If you missed this one, there are still two more lectures in the series! Join us at 10 AM on February 1 to learn about beavers, and on March 1 to learn about Virginia's native plants. Register at: https://qrs.ly/lieau3w

A fun one from our most recent batch of trail camera captures!
01/03/2023

A fun one from our most recent batch of trail camera captures!

Wow, what a year it's been here at Leopold's Preserve! We’ve accomplished so much, but none of it would be possible with...
12/29/2022

Wow, what a year it's been here at Leopold's Preserve! We’ve accomplished so much, but none of it would be possible without you – our supporters and volunteers. You are the ones who attend our events, spread the word, and volunteer your time. Thank you!

We’re looking forward to even more educational hikes, lectures, volunteer events, and habitat restoration projects in 2023. We hope you can join us!

There's still time to register for our next Winter Lecture! One week from today, we'll be learning all about how our act...
12/28/2022

There's still time to register for our next Winter Lecture! One week from today, we'll be learning all about how our actions can impact local and regional watersheds. Join us at 10 AM in the Villages of Piedmont II Clubhouse on Wednesday the 4th to deepen your knowledge of the water cycle and beyond! Register at https://qrs.ly/lieau3w

This season, beavers have picked up their activity in our wetlands. We haven't captured them on our trail cameras yet, b...
12/27/2022

This season, beavers have picked up their activity in our wetlands. We haven't captured them on our trail cameras yet, but there are plenty of signs that they've been out and about - keep an eye out for gnawed trees, disturbed banks, and the unmistakably deeper water! Enjoy this "throwback" beaver photo from this spring!

Happy Holidays, from all of us at the White House Farm Foundation and Leopold's Preserve.
12/22/2022

Happy Holidays, from all of us at the White House Farm Foundation and Leopold's Preserve.

12/20/2022

"I'm all ears..." 🦌

Deer, like many mammals, can rotate their ears nearly 180 degrees to home in on the source of unfamiliar sounds.

Polystichum acrostichoides is commonly known as the Christmas Fern. Their fronds stay green throughout the winter, lendi...
12/19/2022

Polystichum acrostichoides is commonly known as the Christmas Fern. Their fronds stay green throughout the winter, lending them an association with the season. You can identify Christmas Ferns by the distinct lobes at the base of each leaflet - which some folks compare to Santa's boots! 🎅 These hardy natives are great for winter garden design and erosion control. Keep an eye out for their pops of green next time you're on the trails!

"King of the Hill"Lately, hundreds of waterfowl have been competing for space in our wetland. This turtle beat them all ...
12/16/2022

"King of the Hill"

Lately, hundreds of waterfowl have been competing for space in our wetland. This turtle beat them all to claim the perfect basking spot on top of a muskrat lodge!

The winterberry in our Living Legacy Landscape along Route 15 looks beautiful this time of year! Vibrant red colors are ...
12/15/2022

The winterberry in our Living Legacy Landscape along Route 15 looks beautiful this time of year! Vibrant red colors are present in this spot in every season, represented by native plants including redbud, red maple, red-twig dogwood, and winterberry. While their beautiful colors serve as a reminder of lives lost during the Civil War, these native plants also provide habitat and food for wildlife. Winterberries are a favorite of many bird species, including Catbirds, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Robins. Learn more about berry-producing native shrubs at https://blog.nwf.org/2014/12/winter-berries-for-birds/

12/14/2022

It's that time of year... our winter newsletter is now available! Check it out to learn about our 2022 accomplishments, the latest on our invasive plant management plan, and the volunteer who has given over 120 hours at Leopold's Preserve! Read the full newsletter at tinyurl.com/WHFFwinter2022.

12/13/2022

"Whoops, forgot my keys!" 🦊

Our trail camera recorded this fox walking back and forth across our meadow for nearly an hour! Can anyone guess why? We think the fox may have been following the trail of a small rodent.

We had a great time at Saturday's educational hike learning about the unique ways that mammals survive in the winter. Pl...
12/12/2022

We had a great time at Saturday's educational hike learning about the unique ways that mammals survive in the winter. Plus, we got to snack on some of the last persimmons of the season! Couldn't make it to this one? Join us on Wednesday at 10 AM for another Hike with a Naturalist.

Winter is a great time to spot birds - they don't have as many leaves to hide behind! Visit our website for a checklist ...
12/09/2022

Winter is a great time to spot birds - they don't have as many leaves to hide behind! Visit our website for a checklist of birds that have been spotted here at the Preserve. You can print a copy to bring with you as you hike the trails, which will help you keep track of each species you see. Special thanks to Danta Reilly for volunteering her time to create this great resource! The checklist is available at www.leopoldspreserve.com/get-involved.

Join us on Saturday at 10 AM for another Walk With a Naturalist! We'll learn about the strategies that different animals...
12/08/2022

Join us on Saturday at 10 AM for another Walk With a Naturalist! We'll learn about the strategies that different animals use to survive in the winter. Free and open to all! Presented in partnership with the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy.

We had a great turnout at this morning's birding lecture! Special thanks to our guest speaker, Dave Larsen. If you could...
12/07/2022

We had a great turnout at this morning's birding lecture! Special thanks to our guest speaker, Dave Larsen. If you couldn't join us this month, we hope to see you at one of the three remaining lectures - January 4, February 1, and March 1. Register at https://qrs.ly/lieau3w.

One of the few plants in the Preserve that retains its leaves this late in the season is Japanese Honeysuckle. This hard...
12/06/2022

One of the few plants in the Preserve that retains its leaves this late in the season is Japanese Honeysuckle. This hardy, fast-growing vine has a habit of twining around trees, which inhibits the tree's growth and eventually kills it. Japanese Honeysuckle is one of the invasive plants we are targeting under our invasive species management plan - many of the cleared areas along Warbler Way were once overgrown with choking honeysuckle.

If you want to help control Japanese Honeysuckle and other invasive vines at the Preserve, sign up for our Friday Conservation Corps! Our Park Manager could always use help with management projects. Register at www.leopoldspreserve.com/calendar.

You can also get involved with the Plant NOVA Natives Tree Rescuer program to help inform landowners about the dangers of invasive vines. Learn more at https://www.plantnovatrees.org/tree-rescuers-volunteer-program.

We're featured in this episode of the BioScience Talks podcast!
12/06/2022
BioScience Talks

We're featured in this episode of the BioScience Talks podcast!

We hope you enjoy these in-depth discussions of recently published BioScience articles and other science stories. Each episode of our interview series delves into the research behind a highlighted story, giving listeners unique insight into scientists' work.

Cold fingers? It's easy to imagine a tiny pair of gloves on this squirrel, but those tucked-in paws aren't really for ke...
12/02/2022

Cold fingers? It's easy to imagine a tiny pair of gloves on this squirrel, but those tucked-in paws aren't really for keeping warm. When standing on their hind legs, squirrels often draw their arms close to help stay balanced. While the squirrels may not need them, we do recommend warm gloves for all our human visitors this winter!

Our big Red Oak on the north trail is still holding a few gorgeous leaves! Next time you visit, use our tree walk map to...
12/01/2022

Our big Red Oak on the north trail is still holding a few gorgeous leaves! Next time you visit, use our tree walk map to be guided through a tour of the largest and most unique trees around the Preserve. Can you find them all? leopoldspreserve.com/tree-walk

Beaver dentistry: like all rodents, beavers' teeth grow constantly throughout their lives. Without proper roughage, thei...
11/30/2022

Beaver dentistry: like all rodents, beavers' teeth grow constantly throughout their lives. Without proper roughage, their teeth can become overgrown and painful. Locust trees, like the one pictured here, have incredibly hard wood. While beavers don't typically choose locusts to build lodges or dams, we suspect beavers have been chewing on the trees in our wetland locust grove to help wear down their teeth!

Can you see the grasshopper in this photo? Though they have excellent camouflage when sitting still, you're likely to sp...
11/28/2022

Can you see the grasshopper in this photo? Though they have excellent camouflage when sitting still, you're likely to spot grasshoppers leaping out of your path if you're out for a stroll along Meadow Loop. As winter deepens, adult grasshoppers will reach the end of their lives, leaving eggs buried among plant roots to hatch in the spring.

With the holiday season upon us, we are feeling grateful for the tremendous support we have received this year from our ...
11/23/2022

With the holiday season upon us, we are feeling grateful for the tremendous support we have received this year from our volunteers. Together, volunteers have contributed more than 500 hours to important projects across Leopold's Preserve. Thank you!

Learn about birds at Leopold's Preserve! We are so excited to kick off a new series of indoor educational talks on Decem...
11/22/2022

Learn about birds at Leopold's Preserve! We are so excited to kick off a new series of indoor educational talks on December 7 at 10 AM. Join us in the VOP II HOA clubhouse to hear from Dave Larsen, a local birder, as he discusses the wide variety of bird species that call Leopold's Preserve home. Free and open to the public! Register at https://qrs.ly/lieau3w

Can't make it this time? The series continues with a new guest speaker on the first Wednesday of each month through March. Check out our website to see the full listing of upcoming lectures!

Oriental Bittersweet: a beautiful invader.This plant was first introduced to North America from its native Asia in the l...
11/21/2022

Oriental Bittersweet: a beautiful invader.

This plant was first introduced to North America from its native Asia in the late 19th century. It was originally intended to brighten up floral arrangements and holiday decorations with its colorful winter berries. However, this hardy vine quickly got out of hand, and has now spread across more than 33 states. It thrives in sunny, disturbed habitats like roadside ditches, the edges of developed land, and abandoned farm fields.

Our work last week on brush clearing along the western edge of Leopold's Loop and Warbler Way represents the first step in large-scale invasive plant control efforts. With continued work, we hope to reduce the number of invasive plants in the Preserve, including Oriental Bittersweet, and help native plants to thrive.

Beginning tomorrow, we will be moving forward with the next phase of our large-scale invasive plant control plan, suppor...
11/16/2022
Keeping our wooded areas beautiful

Beginning tomorrow, we will be moving forward with the next phase of our large-scale invasive plant control plan, supported by the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This will involve the use of heavy machinery in the area of Warbler Loop, the northwest portion of Leopold's Loop, and our parking lot connector trail. Please be aware that some trails may be closed while this work is being completed.

We are so grateful for the positive and understanding responses we have received since implementing the first phase of this project. The area where we are completing this work has experienced many disturbances due to farming and development, making it the perfect place for invasive plants to flourish. While these areas can look healthy, much of the "green" you see is invasive plants like Japanese Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose, English Ivy, and many more. These plants do not provide the same benefits to our ecosystems as native plants. By removing them, we are taking the first step towards allowing more of our native species to thrive. To learn more about forest management, check out this article from our friends at Plant NOVA Natives.

If your community owns some wooded common land, or if you yourself own a wooded property, you may have noticed that the woods around here have been slowly changing, and not for the better. They may still look green, but the devil is in the details: much of that “green” is now made up of invasive...

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16290 Thoroughfare Road
Broad Run, VA
20137

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Leopold’s Preserve is a rare find in the densely populated county of Prince William, Virginia. Carved out of a portion of the Rural Crescent and sitting within view of the beautiful Bull Run Mountains, Leopold’s Preserve has preserved 380 acres of flora, fauna and wildlife in a protected nature conservancy.

Operated and owned by The White House Farm Foundation out of Page County, Virginia, we invite the public to enjoy our 7 miles of interpretive nature trails, observation decks and viewing platforms and to experience the beauty and serenity of our wildlife sanctuary.

Monthly nature hikes are held by our friends at the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy and we encourage you to be an active participant of all the activities available.

Go to www.leopoldspreserve.com for more info.

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I'm really looking forward to this Saturday's Forest Bathing Walk at Leopold's Preserve! The weather will be perfect to explore the meadow areas using all our senses!
Thank you to the volunteers who helped us wrap trees today to protect them from beaver chewing at Leopold's Preserve! 🦫
Had a wonderful time at LP this morning. Saw two life birds: Cedar Waxwing and this Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Thanks to the guide who helped with Bird ID as we were leaving!
Come join us for a tour of an awesome prairie! Executive Director Bert Harris will lead a walk through a mega-diverse prairie, highlighting some of the special species that are found there and discussing the conservation and restoration of this important habitat. We will meet at Leopold's Preserve and then carpool to the site.

Register at: https://cliftoninstitute.org/event/piedmont-prairie-field-trip/
Lovely morning at Leopold's Preserve!
We visited the lovely Leopold's Preserve last week to check out beaver activity in the wetland. Stay tuned for information about an upcoming event partnership!
Connect with Nature through your senses on a Forest Bathing Walk at Leopold's Preserve on July 16 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. More info and tickets available here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-sense-of-place-forest-bathing-walk-at-leopolds-preserve-tickets-273426996507
Someone made a gorgeous collage of painted rocks. My 6 year old took the heart one.
Hiking Leopold's Loop this morning, serenaded by someone playing "Amazing Grace" on the trumpet. How beautiful!
After last weekend's dump site cleanup at Leopold's Preserve, we seeded the area with a shade-tolerant grass blend. We're hoping these native plants, including Virginia wildrye and bottlebrush grass, will gain a foothold and prevent invasive species from colonizing this newly-cleared area. We've also been seeding other spots in the Preserve, including areas around the old house. Special thanks to Valerie Neitzey for allowing us to use seeds collected from her native meadow!
Cedar Waxwing on 12.31.21
Enjoyed a nice nature walk on New Year's Eve photographing birds with Art Cole
Join us on Saturday for our last naturalist hike of the year! It may not look or feel much like winter, but you can still come out to Leopold's Preserve to learn how animals prepare for colder weather. The walk takes place at 10 am and is FREE! Leopold’s Preserve is located at 16290 Thoroughfare Rd., Broad Run, VA 20137. We hope to see you there!
DATE CHANGE! Our winter homeschool program event, Winter Survival, previously scheduled for December 16th, will now take place THIS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9th. You and your child(ren) are invited to join us on an adventurous outing interacting and learning about nature. The Winter Survival class will focus on mammals preparing for winter. Cost is $5 per participant including adults. We meet at Leopold's Preserve, 16290 Thoroughfare Road, Broad Run, VA 20137. Register today at http://ow.ly/VOYY50H2sXc.
DATE CHANGE! Our winter homeschool program event, Winter Survival, previously scheduled for December 16th, will now take place on DECEMBER 9th. You and your child(ren) are invited to join us on an adventurous outing interacting and learning about nature. The Winter Survival class will focus on mammals preparing for winter. Cost is $5 per participant including adults. We meet at Leopold's Preserve, 16290 Thoroughfare Road, Broad Run, VA 20137. Register today at http://ow.ly/cmUj50H2sty.
Don’t forget! Tomorrow (Thursday) is our monthly Hike with a Naturalist. Join a professional naturalist to discover some of the flora and fauna of the local region. This program is free, meets at Leopold's Preserve (16290 Thoroughfare Road, Broad Run, VA 20137) and all are welcome. To book your spot go to http://ow.ly/o0Bq50H1fzL.
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