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Outdoors & Environmental Newsletter | December 2011 | VBgov.com/Parks 
'Tis the Season... to Get Outside!

Tree IDAs winter approaches and the weather starts to turn colder, many people naturally gravitate towards indoor activities. The outdoor enthusiasts among us may choose to deal with the colder months in a different way. While others head indoors, we've been savoring the last moments of fall weather and building up our cold tolerance to prepare for a winter of outdoor activities.

Winter is a great time to explore, not only because of the crispness in the air and the crackle of leaves beneath your feet, but because of the unique wildlife viewing opportunities, such as catching glimpses of wintering birds, often times in very impressive numbers.

Another alluring winter mystery is trying to identify different trees, since for the most part, they are no longer sporting their tell-tale signs: leaves. Learning the basics of winter tree identification is like cracking a code. The task can be very daunting as you look at brown limb after brown limb without seeing any difference.

If you'd like to learn the basics and try your hand at identifying winter trees, join us for the Winter Wildlife Festival's Winter Tree ID & Urban Forestry Walk on January 28, 8:30-11:30 am.
There is no cost to attend this session, but registration is required. Register now!  

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Temperature Down? Layer Up! 


LayersDid you know there is actually a right way to layer? In order to keep your body warm and dry, without overheating, it's important to follow these basic guidelines.

Let's start with the first layer, also known as the base layer. Base layers need to be close fitting, almost like a second skin, and in a moisture wicking material, such as polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, or wool. Always avoid cotton! Cotton traps moisture, stays wet and draws heat from you.

The second layer, or mid layer, provides insulation and should be a bit looser than the base layer, but still maintain contact for proper heating and cooling. Mid layers also carry moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Common materials include down, polyester, fleece, wool and newer synthetic/natural blends.  

Last, but certainly not least, is the "shell" or outer layer. This layer should be wind and water resistant, and tough enough to withstand tears and abrasions. Gore-Tex is a good material for this. The outer layer should also allow moisture to escape, so ventilation options such as pit zips, and ankle zippers (for pants) are standard.  

For more information on layering up, check out this article from Bass Pro.  
5 Tips to Green Your Holidays

The volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. As you head out to shop and prepare for the upcoming holiday season, keep the following tips in mind to help you green your holidays and reduce waste!


1. Make a list! When doing your food or gift shopping, make a list and stick to it! By creating a list and committing to it, you'll organize your budget and your travels while avoiding impulse buys. When you have your list ready, plan your shopping so that you can utilize the most effective route and save gas. And don't forget to bring along your reusable shopping bags!  


2. Avoid disposables! If you are hosting a holiday dinner or party, use reusable dishes and flatware. You'll drastically reduce the amount of waste created and you'll always have the right supplies on hand to use again. Also, be sure that a recycling container is readily available for your guests.  


Bottle Tree3. Shop locally!  Support your local retailers and farmers. Products made close to home reduce energy consumption in the shipping process.  


4. Wrap it recycled! You can wrap gifts in old calendars, maps, posters, sheet music or newspaper. Reuse decorative bags and boxes. Avoid foil and plastic-coated wrapping papers that are not recyclable.   


5. Cut the clutter! Give "experience" gifts which can include anything from a gift certificate for services, such as a massage, to a recreation center membership. Less packaging means less waste! 

Taking Time to Reflect on 2011
by Katie Whanger, Outdoor Programs Recreation Specialist

KatieAs we wrap up the final weeks of 2011, I enjoy looking back on the many wonderful outdoor experiences and programs we've offered as a department this year. There have been nature camps, kayaking trips, archery in the park, family fishing days, owl prowls, night hikes, clean-ups, special events and numerous outreaches to different groups and organizations. For the last ten years, the Outdoor Programs Unit has been fortunate to have managed a collection of injured, non-releasable wildlife that we've used to enhance a multitude of programs like the ones mentioned above. On average we reach about 2500 people a year with these programs, and an additional 20,000 during special events.

Explore Our ParksI've seen first-hand many times the impact that seeing a wild animal up close has on a person. It is something that affects each individual differently, but something we believe has immeasurable value to our community. These animals have been ambassadors for their wild counterparts and allow people to personalize the impact that humans can have on their environment in both a negative, and more importantly, a positive way. We hope these interactions have provided a foundation for sustainable recreation in our community, or at least sparked an interest in our environment that an individual can continue to explore.

Thank you for a great year and we look forward to seeing you at our programs in the new year! Check out our Winter Programs & Activities Catalog to see what's ahead! 
Please Note Our Upcoming Facility Closures 


The pool at Seatack Recreation Center will be closed for renovations until mid-December.   


All Virginia Beach Recreation Centers, Owl Creek Tennis Center, and staffed City Parks & Facilities will be closed on December 23, 25 & 26 and January 1, 2 & 16. They will close at noon on December 24 and at 5 pm on December 31. Neighborhood parks and canoe/kayak launches remain available for use. 


Don't forget that your membership is good at all six Virginia Beach Recreation Centers! If your usual center is closed for maintenance, take the opportunity to visit another center. Use this locator to help you find one!

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If your child requires additional support, we can help.  Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions.  Feel free to email us at fun@vbgov.com.
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Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is accredited by CAPRA,
the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association.