SNP begins spraying to eradicate the spongy month

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah Natural Park (SNP) reports that aerial spraying for the spongy moth is in progress as of May 14.

The helicopter to do the work arrived Monday May 13 and is expected to lift off May 14 starting around 6:30 A.M. weather permitting.

The spongy moth which can defoliate trees began its early arrival this year due to warmer weather.

Additional treatment days will be selected through Friday May 17.

The treatment is expected to be done largely in the morning but may have to be done throughout the day due to weather conditions.

Visitors to the park will experience noise and possible wind from the low flying helicopter in the treatment areas.

The spray used in the procedure is Bacillus Thuringiensis Kurstaki or BTK and has been thoroughly studied.

The chemicals used are not harmful to humans, wildlife, plants, buildings, or vehicles and can be removed with soap and water.

The process is to eradicate the spongy moth and prevent tree mortality and can be monitored here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP receives funds for preservation initiatives

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund provided enhancements to a beloved route managed by the National Park Service.

Over 18 months and with a budget of $15 million, the Skyline Drive preservation initiative revitalized 56 miles and 19 scenic overlooks along this renowned national historic landmark and scenic byway traversing
the Blue Ridge Mountains within Shenandoah National Park.

The GAOA allocates $1.2 million for a park endeavor aimed at dismantling outdated structures and reinstating natural conditions in the Big Meadows area, recognized as a national historic landmark district, along with the Loft Mountain Campground.

Springtime travelers are in for safer and smoother journeys through the breathtaking vistas of  Shenandoah National Park.

Thanks to the Skyline Drive project, distressed pavement has been
restored, shoulders stabilized, pavement and road markings enhanced, and road surfaces treated to fortify structural integrity and prolong road life.

In addition, obsolete or deteriorating structures and facilities in Big Meadows and Loft Mountain Campground have been dismantled.

This includes office buildings, outdated housing, a comfort station, parking areas, picnic sites, and sections of the H-loop road and
campsites, totaling approximately $3 million in deferred maintenance savings.

The final phase of the project involves restoring natural vegetation in these areas, promising visitors a more harmonious landscape.

GAOA stands as a crucial component of a larger initiative to address the extensive backlog of deferred maintenance and repair needs across national parks.

With revenue sourced from energy development, GAOA grants the National Park Service up to $1.3 billion annually for five
years.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP prepares for aerial pesticide spraying

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

The Shenandoah National Park announced that they will begin spraying an aerial, naturally occurring pesticide to suppress the nonnative spongy moth caterpillars in the area.

The initiative is in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and will take place along sections of Skyline Drive from mile marker 39 to 51 and in the Skyland and Big Meadows Area.

A specialized helicopter will spray a total of 3,150 acres of the park over the span of two mornings between 6:30 am and noon.

Officials do not know exactly when the spraying will begin as it is affected by weather conditions but based on park history, spraying will likely occur between May 15th and May 21st.

Once park officials establish a date, the public will be notified on their website and social media as well as physical signage in the area.

SNP will use a naturally occurring bacteria known as BTK.

The bacteria is prevalent in natural ecosystems and not harmful to humans, pets, plants, or most beneficial insects.

The spray does not harm any surfaces and one can easily remove it with soap and water.

Over the past two years, spongy moth numbers have grown quickly leading to the defoliation of large areas of the central section of the park.

Additional defoliation could lead to tree mortality, safety hazards in visitor-use areas, and damaging of forest habitats.

This suppression effort is part of a larger push to slow the growth of spongy moths including over 16,000 acres in Washington and Jefferson National Forests. 

To learn more about spongy moths in SNP, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP collaborates with utility partners

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park (SNP) is taking proactive measures to fortify its infrastructure in collaboration with utility partners, aiming to minimize potential damage from future weather occurrences.

The initiative involves the replacement of utility poles and the restoration of power lines along two key utility corridors within the park.

Consequently ,certain visitor services will be affected at Elkwallow, Mathews Arm Campground, and the Big Meadows area.

Updates for Visitors in the Big Meadows Area:

  • During April, intermittent power outages will occur between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays.
  • Shower facilities will be closed between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.
  • Normal Park operations will resume on Fridays through Sundays.
  • Wood and ice sales remain available at Big Meadows Wayside until further notice.
  • Comfort stations/bathrooms in the loops of Big Meadows Campground will continue to operate fully.

Big Meadows Wayside and the visitor center at Big Meadows will function mostly as usual with the assistance of generators.

However, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. from Mondays through
Thursdays, Wi-Fi services may experience disruptions, exhibits will be closed, and movie screenings will be suspended.

Big Meadows Lodge is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, as planned.

Elkwallow Wayside & Mathews Arm Campground:

  •  Renovation work for these areas will commence upon completion of the tasks at Big Meadows.
  • Opening dates for these facilities are to be determined later due to the ongoing renovations.

For individuals with campground reservations until mid-June who have not received communication regarding their reservation at Mathews Arm, please reach out to Mindy Bogue at mindy_bogue@nps.gov or 540-999-3500 x3405.

Guests have the option to relocate their camping reservations to either Big Meadows or Loft Mountain Campgrounds.

However, availability may be limited at these sites due to the closure
of Mathews Arm.

Alternatively, guests may opt for a refund if they choose to cancel their reservation.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Earth day celebrations

Warren County Virginia new logo used by permission by Warren County Director of Technology Todd Jones

As Earth Day is fast approaching on Monday, April 22nd it is time to celebrate the natural beauty of our area.

Check out Shenandoah National Parks, fee free day, kick off to National Park Week today, April 20th.

Browntown is hosting their annual Redbud Festival today from 9 am to 3 pm.

Enjoy scenic Browntown, they will have craft vendors, a duck race, bake sale, live music, food and plant sales.

The Town of Front will celebrate “Lone Pine Day” on Sunday, April 21st, from 10 am to 3 pm on Main Street.

There will be over 40 vendors, live demonstrations, a petting zoom and more!

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

River Report: 4-19-24

In this edition of our Shenandoah River Report, Mark Frondorf reminds everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley in the next few weeks, as Spring shows off it’s magnificence. Brought to you by Front Royal Outdoors, where Don Roberts and his staff are ready to help you take in the sights and sounds of the Shenandoah. Visit https://frontroyaloutdoors.com and plan your South Fork adventure!

News Maker Allysah Fox of SNP on Park Week

Park week begins April 20, and Shenandoah National Park (SNP) has celebrations set including a fee free day.

We spoke to SNP Information Officer Allysah Fox about what’s planned in our latest news maker.

News makers are sponsored by Warren County.

Experience Warren County Where History, Nature, and Family come together.

Allysah tells us that the excitement really began with the eclipse and has been going strong ever since.

She also tells us that Park Week begins with a Fee Free Day April 20.

Allysah also has details on the April 27 Jr. Ranger day which is full of educational activities  for all ages.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP announces Artist-in-Residence

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park has selected five artists for its annual Artist-in-Residence program.

The program gives artists an opportunity to creatively explore Shenandoah’s natural and cultural resources and pursue their artistic discipline.

Each artist will spend three weeks in Shenandoah National Park and create an original piece reflecting on the experience of donating to the park.

Artists also present public programs about their art and their residences. Shenandoah’s Artist -in-Residence program is supported by generous donations to the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

Shenandoah is one of numerous National Park Service sites across the country that have Artist-in-Residence programs to inspire artists to create and share art that not only motivates and encourages millions of people to visit and explore, but also helps build awareness and develop stewardship of these beautiful public lands.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

SNP trail closures

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park has closed Hull School Trail from Skyline Drive to Thornton River Upper Trail and Thornton River Upper Trail from the intersection of Hull School Trail to Skyline Drive due to the Rocky Branch Wildfire.

Closures still in place include Skyline Drive from Thornton Gap (mile 31.5) to Mathews Arm (mile 22.1), Appalachian Trail from Elkwallow to Beahms Gap, Rocky Branch Trail, Neighbor Mountain Trail, Jeremys Run Trail, and Byrds Nest 4 shelter.

A parkwide fire ban remains in effect.

National Park Service firefighters are working in partnership with Luray Fire Department and Virginia Department of Forestry.

The cause of this fire is unknown.

No structures are immediately threatened by the fire.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Shenandoah National Park plans controlled burn

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park officials plan to burn about 88 acres at Big Meadows sometime between Monday and April 15. The actual date will depend on the weather, according to a park news release.

“A portion of Big Meadows (mile 51 on Skyline Drive), the open area across from Byrd Visitor Center, is burned each year for the purpose of maintaining the open vista by preventing encroachment from small trees and shrubs,” a park news release states.

“Prescribed burns are ignited by fire managers under a pre-determined set of conditions, including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, fuel moisture and resource availability. Prescribed burns will be conducted as interagency projects, with local support, under the guidance and direction of trained and experienced National Park Service personnel.”

Fire managers expect the project will take one day to complete. Smoke will be visible that day in the surrounding area.

All park facilities will remain open during the burn, but access to Big Meadows will be restricted.