Virginia Master Naturalists will host a guided tour of the Working Woods Walk at James Madison’s Montpelier on July 17. 

The newly opened 28-acre Working Woods, adjacent to Montpelier’s old-growth forest, showcases various conservation management practices based on today’s best forest science knowledge.

“The goal of the Working Woods is to demonstrate the renewable nature of forest resources resulting from science-based decision making in a context where James Madison himself pondered forest utilization,” said Adam Downing, a natural resources Virginia Cooperative Extension agent who is associated with Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Working Woods Walk trail takes visitors through a variety of forest and habitat types, with recent management prescriptions implemented to display real-world solutions to common forestry issues. Virginia Master Naturalists, volunteers trained to educate the public about natural resources, worked with Extension, Montpelier staff, and the Society of American Foresters on the educational aspects of the trail, including interpretive signs and a trail guide. The volunteers also conduct the tours, which are offered on a quarterly basis.

“The Master Naturalists are a perfect fit for this project,” added Downing, who worked with the volunteers to make the project sustainable and cost-effective. “They are enthusiastic partners with diverse backgrounds who work together to positively impact Virginia’s natural resources. Not only do they lead tours, but they are also involved in caring for the forest through invasive plant control and have been instrumental in developing the Working Woods Walk.”

The two-hour guided walk on the one-mile loop trail will start at Montpelier’s visitor center at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 17. Regular entry fees apply.

Montpelier’s Working Woods is a cooperative project by the Montpelier Foundation, Virginia Master Naturalist Program, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Society of American Foresters, Virginia Department of Forestry, Ballyshannon Fund, Virginia’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee, and Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment as partners in Virginia’s LEAF (Link to Education About Forestry) Program, which provides educational experiences by combining outdoor forestry and natural resources learning with heritage tourism.



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