Patapsco Valley State Park Open House!

Lynell Tobler, vice president, left, and Laura Van Scoyoc, president, helm the SDCI display booth at the 2022 Patapsco Valley State Park open house
We hope you made it out to the McKeldin Area of Patapsco Valley State Park on Saturday, March 26, for PVSP's annual Open House event! The day was brisk and blustery, yet many hikers and passersby took advantage of the day's waiver of entrance fees to visit the booths and attend the events set up all around the main driving loop.

The Volunteer Ranger Mounted Patrol had several gentle steeds picketed in the grass for horse lovers to admire, while the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (M.O.R.E) mountain bike club held free clinics for bicycle enthusiasts. The Carroll County Public Library offered free nature books to all takers and the Mountain Club of Maryland, the state's premier (and oldest) hiking group, led a hike on McKeldin's prettiest trails.

From left, Lynell Tobler, volunteer Jesse Turner, Patapsco Valley State Park Manager Rob Dyke and Laura Van Scoyoc. Photo credit: Marisa Galitz 
Of course, Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc., the Friends Group for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills, was there to greet all comers with a friendly display booth showing the ubiquity of invasive plant species and how these common landscaping plants, such as Callery pear and Chinese silvergrass, can damage Soldiers Delight's fragile ecosystem. We also offered tantalizing descriptions of the unique and beautiful attributes of SDNEA, Maryland's largest biodiversity site, and exhibited a fascinating video about the history of the geographically rare serpentine barrens.

A view of the sun as seen through the powerful solar telescope of the Westminster Astronomical Society. The smallest sunspot you can see is approximately the size of Earth in comparison. Photo credit: Jesse Turner
Right next to our display, the Westminster Astronomical Society set up its large solar telescope for the public to peer through. Although clouds moved swiftly across the sky all afternoon, the sun shone brightly often enough for those interested to get a wonderful view through the powerful lens of the celestial body that gives life to our planet. Though temporarily halted during the COVID 19 pandemic, WASI will resume its monthly stargazing programs at the Soldiers Delight visitor center, starting April 16th at 8:00 p.m.

Other displays at the open house included a disc golf clinic with a competition-class course to play on, and a booth showcasing,

Photo credit: Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
a group covering the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia region whose mission is to inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors and embrace cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring that Latino history, heritage, and leadership is valued and represented.

Mother Nature even contributed some genuine drama to the afternoon! At about 1:30 p.m., the wind suddenly whipped into a frenzy, the sun quickly hid behind ominous clouds and the sky burst forth with... "graupel", snowflakes combined (as they fall) with raindrops to form tiny, semi-frozen balls, which rained down upon us in a pounding, white fury. The phenomenon, while intense, was short-lived -- lasting less than a minute, but boy, did that ever add a fabulous exclamation point to the day!

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