At some point in the past few days you may have come across clumps or strands of hair on the Ridge Valley Trail or the Crusher Trail. In fact, a number of you called or messaged us online wondering about this probably very weird-seeming occurrence and we appreciate your concern. So, what’s the deal? Well, last week Fresh Air Family held their “Prepared Not Scared” summer camp at Ruffner Mountain. Attendees picked up a whole slew of survival skills for the wild and for life, one of which was tracking, and in particular, tracking Bigfoot! Of course, we all know that Bigfoot sheds during the summer, hence the hair on the trail. So if you see any, don’t be alarmed. There is neither danger nor Bigfoot lurking over the next berm. We actually just discovered today how hairy things had gotten and we’re working to clean it up asap. In the meantime, enjoy the trails!

Nature Center Closed for the 4th

The Nature Center will be closed tomorrow for Independence Day, but our trails will be open from dawn to dusk. 

On a side note, we are always striving to make improvements to Ruffner Mountain and its facilities, and to that end we are currently in the process of getting the water fountains at the Back Porch back in working order. If you come to Ruffner tomorrow please be sure to bring plenty of water. We may have made our Brexit back 1776, but we're still being oppressed by this obscene Southern heat. Be a real American hero and stay hydrated. Happy Fourth of July from Ruffner!

New Project in the Works at Roebuck Springs!

"Permaculture: a system of cultivation intended to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by relying on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem."

Have we told you about the new Permaculture Garden we're hard at work on? No? Well, at our Roebuck Springs property (yes, Ruffner is that vast!) we are in the beginning stages of planting a new permaculture garden, installing recreation and play areas for children, pollinator habitats for native insects, fruit trees, and much, much more. About three months ago we began clearing the invasive species like privet, wisteria, and mimosa that had begun to threaten the ecological integrity, biodiversity, and overall beauty of the area, to make way for a brand-new trailhead and recreational portal to Ruffner. We couldn't be more excited! Check out the sketch above by our very own Jon Woolley to see what we mean, and stay tuned for more updates!

Luna moth (Actis luna)

The luna moth (Actias luna) is a pale green, Nearctic Saturniid moth with a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches, making it one of the largest moth species in North America. As with all Saturniidae, luna moths emerge from their cocoons without mouth parts and as such do not eat. Their primary purpose, in the adult stage at least, is to mate, which means that they live only a week or so. Females lay 400-600 eggs, four to seven at a time, on the undersides of leaves, which then incubate for 8 to 13 days. The luna moth is unique to North America and wild populations are now threatened by light pollution, pesticides, and parasitic flies. Unfortunately, they are not listed by the IUCN or the EPA as endangered. Their larvae may be found on birch, sweetgum, hickory, and walnut trees, and the catepillars are a pale green with some bristles atop each segment. May we have the chance to see this stunning creature proliferate and continue its natural life cycles for generations to come! 

American green tree frog

The American green tree frog (Hyla cinerea), also known as the "rain frog" due to its penchant for calling during damp weather, and the "cowbell frog" (as its call sometimes can sound bell-like from a distance) can be found all over the southeastern United States, its color ranging from dark green to bright yellow. Green tree frogs prefer wet or moist areas such as swamps, lake sides, and edges of streams. You may even find one in your backyard swimming pool! These little guys are insectivores, which means they are crucial in controlling insect populations, mosquitoes especially. As summer kicks in to high gear you can thank them for keeping the blood-sucking hordes at bay (though mosquitoes are just as important to the ecology and biodiversity of Alabama and beyond). Thanks to the rain frog, the cowbell frog, the green tree frog!

June Trail Team Work Day

Help get our trails ready for summer! Maybe you or someone you know enjoys getting outside and getting a little exercise and sun on your shoulders? Well, tomorrow is your chance to join us for our monthly Trail Team Workday! The Trail Team and interested volunteers will meet at 8:00 AM at the Ruffner Ball Park, 300 Ruffner Road in Irondale, to hike to the Overlook Trail to complete trail renovations. Additional projects TBD after completion. We hope to see you there!