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Conservancy | From page 7 the board and staff at the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, it’s more likely to call to mind the popular joke structure than a synergistic team of environmentalists. If you grew up in the area, you’ve probably heard of the organization, which operates from their “Mountain House” on Beverley Mill Drive in Broad Run. But, if you’re like me — at least until I started researching for this article — you’re just as likely to not know exactly what they do. Since its inception under the name Friends of Bull Run in 1994, Bull Run Mountains Conservancy has pulled local talent from diverse backgrounds to accomplish its goals of education, research and stewardship. Aside from its board and staff, the group has inspired a much larger pool of passionate and dedicated volunteers who are the arms and legs that give scope to the group’s accomplishments. At the backbone of the organization’s goals is a commitment to science. So when founding board member and President Andrea Currier brought on biologist Michael Kieffer as executive director 18 years ago, it was a natural fit. “He’s a dedicated educator,” Currier says. “He has an interest and passion and background in science, so he brings rigor to education; it’s not superficial.” That much is evident. Kieffer is currently running his 18th series of summer camps, where he teaches kids about the diverse fauna and natural systems that make the Bull Run Mountains so important to science and to the health of our regional ecosystems. “The education program is tied into the


research program, which is all about better stewardship for the land,” says Kieffer. The research underwritten and supported by the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy and its volunteer base has included multiyear studies and surveys on moths, snakes, beetles, bats, water quality, aquatic life and American Chestnut trees on Bull Run Mountain — which backs up to the organization’s headquarters — and many surrounding areas. They supported ecologist Gary Fleming’s 2001 comprehensive documentation of ecological communities on the preserve, as well as two of Marty Martin’s five-plus decades of rattlesnake research. These studies are performed in a large part by the Conservancy’s hundreds of stead-


fast volunteers, who understand that studies that seem narrow — doing a beetle survey, for example — actually provide critical data to analyze the health of the region over time. Kieffer walks through the thought process behind one such study: “So the beetles. Let’s say the climate keeps changing. Does the beetle fauna here change? Does it diminish? Does it become more of a southern fauna that you’d see farther south? Does the beetle fauna go farther north?” To the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, these questions matter. “This is just a teeny pixel point on a huge whole world,” says Kieffer. “But I’d like to think that by doing this and having the volunteers so passionate, and Conservancy | Page 9

Profile for Middleburg Life

Middleburg Life | August 2017  

Middleburg Life | August 2017