THE DIRT is a weekly look at some of the most pressing outdoor news issues from around the Blue Ridge and Beyond.
Wrong Bear Killed After Douthat State Park Bear Attack
Official say the wrong black bear was euthanized after an attack in Douthat State Park that left Laurie Cooksey with a total of 28 stitches. The identity of the euthanized bear—which was tracked and killed less than 24 hours after Cooksey was attacked—was determined after wildlife biologist attempted to match saliva found on the victims clothes with that of the euthanized bear. The test results came up negative. The erroneous killing comes on the heels of a similar debacle in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Back in April the incorrect bear was killed as a response to the attack of a teenage hammock camper in the park’s backcountry.
Previously Closed Virginia Waterways Now Open to Anglers, Paddlers
Good news for Virginia paddlers and anglers! The Virginia Marine Resources commission has just opened 14 waterways across the state that were previously deemed unnavigable and therefore closed to the public. That includes the exceptional Johns Creek on the edge of the Roanoke Valley which has been off limits for over a decade.
“Virginia paddlers have been working with leaders in the state to get better clarification over where people can paddle and cannot paddle,” said Kevin Colburn, the stewardship director for American Whitewater. “It’s not a change in law or a change in rules; it’s just the interpretation of a policy they’ve had for many years. With that change, it definitely brought some certainty to a place where there has been a lot of ambiguity for a long time.”
The controversy behind Johns Creeks dates back to a king’s grant issued during colonial times. In the 1960s the grant was used a legal defense to sue a paddlers after he passed a private farm while navigating a stretch of the picturesque stream. Learn more here.
Funding for Monogohela State Park and Others Set to Expire
The critical funding that supports some of West Virginia’s most treasured natural areas is set to expire on September 30th. If the fund is allowed to expire some of the states most beloved parks and outdoor spaces could be sold off for private development and permanently lost to the public.
“When you think of West Virginia as a state that is known as ‘wild and wonderful’ these are the places that define the landscape, and it’s hard to imagine what wild and wonderful would look like without the contribution of the land and water conservation fund,” said Mike Costello, executive director, West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. Learn more about this important issue here.