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Suffolk heats up with outdoor programs

Suffolk Tourism and outdoor outfitter Nature’s Calling will partner for two programs that offer hands-on lessons about the wildlife and vegetation of the Great Dismal Swamp.

Both of these hour-long programs are free, public and will be held outdoors — weather permitting — at 10 a.m. at the Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion, 524 N. Main St.

The first program will be held this Saturday and is titled “Snakes: Fact or Fiction,” in which Nature’s Calling owner and naturalist Penny Lazauskas will discuss the identification, conservation and habitats of snakes found locally.

Lazauskas will be assisted by several live snakes, including a corn snake, black rat snake and northern water snake.

“The northern water snake is nine times out of 10 confused with the cottonmouth, or what people commonly refer to as the water moccasin,” she said.

She plans to dispel that and other myths surrounding these cold-blooded animals with her presentation.

“I will also be discussing laws protecting these snakes and some of the endangered species, especially (endangered snake species) in Suffolk,” she said.

She will follow up that presentation with another one on April 6 titled “Plants of the Great Dismal Swamp,” which will address how to identify native plants in the region.

She will explain the wildlife uses of each plant, medicinal uses like jewelweed for poison ivy and their environmental benefits to promote conservation.

“We feel great ownership over the Great Dismal Swamp, and we want to encourage people to visit the swamp,” said Tourism Development Manager Theresa Earles.

Participants are encouraged to dress warmly for the programs. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 514-4130 or emailing visitsuffolk@suffolkva.us.

Participants will also receive a voucher redeemable for a discount on one of Suffolk Tourism’s 2019 Great Dismal Swamp guided tours. Go online to visitsuffolkva.com for more information.