Daily Dirt: New Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent, World Record Fish, and National Headlines

08 Aug 13
Blue Ridge Parkway
Will new BRP superintendent Mark Woods be a ray of sunshine for the embattled byway? Only time will tell.

Your daily outdoor news bulletin for August 8th, the day President Richard Nixon announced he would resign, proving that not even the President of the United States is above breaking the law, lying about it, resigning to avoid impeachment, and getting pardoned by the next guy:

Blue Ridge Parkway Gets New Superintendent

The Blue Ridge Parkway is having some trouble. A giant crack forced the closure of a large portion of the byway outside Asheville, cuts have forced the BRP to cut back it’s already low budget for basic upkeep, and there is a 10-year, $450 million deferred maintenance backlog to deal with. Well, now all those problems have new shoulders to rest on, albeit capable ones. Mark Woods was named the new Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Wednesday, replacing Phil Francis, who retired in April – Monika Mayr had acted as interim superintendent during the gap. The 53-year-old Woods is a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service, having worked at several parks across the South. His most recent gig was superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, and the similarities between the two entities should set him up nicely to succeed. Both span multiple states (Cumberland is known as the Gateway to the West and incorporates Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee), which will also help his relationship with gateway communities with different needs. He is also a native of South Carolina, and has worked mainly in the South as previously mentioned, so there shouldn’t be any complaints about a “Yankee coming down here and messin’ with how we do things our way, blah, blah, etc.” Woods certainly has his work cut out for him, but with a capable staff, not to mention his $125K salary, he should be able to lead the BRP into an uncertain future.

More can be found at the Citizen-Times.

Virginia Snakehead Sets World Record

Back in June, we told you about Virginia native Caleb Newton and the 17 pound northern snakehead fish he caught out of the tidal Potomac River in Stafford. If you have forgotten about Newton, or the snakehead, let me refresh your memory: “Caleb Newton held the rod while Phil Wilcox held the net as they landed the possible world recored Northern Snakehead out of Aquia Creek in Stafford, Virginia Saturday. The (ugly-as-sin) fish weighed in at 17.6 pounds, topping the previous record – caught in Japan in 2004 – by a couple of ounces. The northern snake head is, in a word, gross: they can live for days out of the water, can move on land, excrete mucus, smell terrible, have sharp teeth, are as hard to kill as the Terminator (T-850, not the T-1000) and are just plain ugly. They are also an invasive species, and if caught in Virginia are required by law to be, well, terminated. ” Well, according to the Free Lance-Star, word has come back from the International Game Fish Association confirming that the fish is a world record. Newton is aiming to turn his new-found semi-fishing fame into an endorsement deal, because, why not?

Noteworthy National Outdoor News

Several national stories of note have come out in the past few days.

First, is this cool article on the Daily Beast examining the science and studies currently being conducted on why mosquitos target some people and not others. This obviously has huge implications for us in the South, and could lead to better protection from the pests in the future, including the spread of diseases like dengue fever and malaria. LINK

Here is an audio story from NPR about something that has become a hot topic in the East, although this piece concentrates on the West: Ski resorts catering to mountain bikers in the summer in an attempt to find a four season revenue stream. LINK

Here is another NPR story about sleep patterns and how a week of camping can reset your internal clock to help you sleep better at night. LINK

And here is some sad news from the digital media file: Contour has mysteriously and unexpectedly closed up shop. Employees arrived on a typical work day to locked doors and a note saying they were no longer employed by the action video camera company. Contour has positioned itself over the last few years as the most serious contender to GoPro in the market of action POV cameras, so the sudden closing is a surprise. LINK

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Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine

Your guide to hiking in the Southeast, biking in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian adventures from the Highlands to the Piedmont.