THE DIRT is a weekly look at some of the most pressing outdoor news issues from around the Blue Ridge and Beyond.

Paris Mountain State Park Set to Expand

Greenville, South Carolina’s closest state park is set to undergo a significant expansion. The expansion, made possible by a recent land acquisition of the Friends of Paris Mountain State Park, will add a 160 additional acres to the heavily visited park, freeing up more space for hiking and mountain biking. Paris Mountain State Park has become one of the busiest parks in the South Carolina Upstate. According the Karen Chavez of the Asheville Citizen Times, it saw a 26 percent increase in 2014 with some 245,000 annual visitors. Learn more about Paris Mountain’s expansion here.

Virginia River Park Named One of Nation’s Best by REI

The James River Park in Richmond, Virginia was named one of the six best river parks in country by outdoor retail giant REI. In a statement posted to its website, REI had this to day about the Richmond river park: “The James River Park is an entire system of trails and recreation areas encompassing more than 500 acres along the James River. On the water are numerous natural whitewater features—shoals, ledges and play-waves—and the area has excellent bike trails.” Also mentioned in the article was Kelly’s Whitewater Park on the Payette River in Idaho, Sweetwater Creek State Park near Atlanta, and Great Falls Park on the Potomac River. Read more here.

Triathlete Competes for North Carolina Shark Attack Victim

A Colorado Springs man competed in a the Rocky Mountain State Games triathlon over the weekend in support of the victim of one of North Carolina’s recent shark attacks. Michael Ortiz, whose daughter attends school with attack victim Hunter Treschl, says his heart has gone out to Hunter ever since he learned of the attack. “I just knew I had to do something for him,” he told local Colorado news station KRDO. In order to help fund Hunter’s medical expense—the teen lost an arm as a result of the shark attack—Ortiz wore a shirt that read ‘Tri for Hunter’ and included a link to his Go Fund Me page. He hopes the increased awareness will help Hunter and his parents reach their funding goal of $50,000. The family is now less and $8,000 away from reaching their goal.

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