By: Amanda Burke
Want to visit a Nature Conservancy preserve, but don’t know where to start? Our series of audio tours is designed to help guide your next trip! Learn about local geology, rare species, river hydrology, and native plants and animals at selected nature preserves in Maryland/DC, Virginia, Delaware, and West Virginia.
These recorded chronicles will take visitors on narrated journeys along trails in 13 different preserves. Explore wetlands at Cranesville Swamp and hike forests along Nassawango Creek. Hear how Sideling Hill Creek helps sustain the globally rare harperella and how a rare combination of natural forces carved the unique Potomac Gorge.
Nature.org spoke with Deborah Barber, land management director for Maryland/DC, about how these audio tours came about and what they offer.
Nature.org: What was the inspiration behind the audio tours?
Deborah Barber: I've worked with The Nature Conservancy for 20 years, and I really wanted to share the experience I’ve had learning from our wonderful naturalists. These experts have a real gift that allows them to transform a preserve into an educational destination for visitors.
Nature.org: How will they enhance a visitor’s experience?
Deborah Barber: Because they provide an audio experience, they don’t distract you from the fantastic visuals that nature already gives us. Our tour guides reveal how certain plants and animals interact in nature and provide greater insight into each preserve’s environment.
Nature.org: What else should visitors know?
Deborah Barber: The audio tours are like having your own naturalist whisper in your ear. But remember to download the recordings and maps before you visit! Some of our secluded preserves are spectacular, but don't provide a signal for streaming downloads to your mobile device.
A lifelong geology and ornithology enthusiast, Amanda enjoys volunteering her time to help conserve local wildlife habitats and nature. Fond of desert landscapes, her favorite state park to date is Valley of Fire in Nevada's eastern Mojave Desert. A native of Missouri and North Carolina, Amanda has worked in public affairs for the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C. since 2006.