Your daily outdoor news bulletin for July 29, the day National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed in 1958, proving that anything Russia can do, the U.S. can do better, only a year later and after Congress approves:

This is Your Parkway on Crack

The Blue Ridge Parkway crack is making headlines again this week. Since July 12, the parkway has been closed to motor vehicle traffic between milepost 376 and milepost 355 due to the large crack in the roadway. Throughout the past week, the crack has grown to its current size of 300 feet long, several inches wide and several feet deep. As we all know, people love crack, so the gash in the road became something of a tourist attraction, drawing curious onlookers who trekked the two miles from MP 376 to take a look since the closed section was still open to foot and bicycle traffic. Until Friday that is. Rangers have now closed the section of road to all traffic due to the heavy equipment being used in the area to fix the crack, and there are also some concerns about the general safety of a mountain side highway that is coming apart at the seams. Parkway officials an the Federal Highway Administration continue to work on finding the cause of the slope failure and hope to have at least a temporary solution soon.

Bald Eagles Love the James River

Bursting through all the depressing environmental reports and news coming out of the U.S. over the past couple of years comes the success story of our national symbol on one of the great historic waterways in the country. According to a new survey taken by scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University, the number of bald eagle pairs on the the James River topped 200, more than triple the 56 pairs found in 2000. This is a success story for both the eagles and the James River as a whole. There were no eagles on the river – and only 33 pairs in the whole state – in 1977, having been decimated by DDT and Kepone pollution. But today, the tidal freshwater James from Dutch Gap to Charles City County – a 40 mile stretch – holds one of the country’s top concentrations of eagles, herons and other aquatic fowl.

Madison County Denied SNP Entrance

The Shenandoah National Park gave Virginia’s Madison County a big stiff arm, denying them an entrance to the park today. In May, Madison County officials sought to have Rapidan Road upgraded and to allow private vehicles to access the park via the road. Currently, the road is divided into the lower portion that allows access to the park boundary, and the upper portion which is in disrepair and closed to car access. The interesting twist in the story is Madison County’s ‘special relationship’ with former President Herbert Hoover who built his presidential retreat, Rapidan Camp, on the banks of the Rapidan River and visited the area frequently. There is also a story of Hoover promising Madison County an entrance to the new park, but the county’s efforts to cash in on that claim have fallen short yet again – similar proposals were advanced in 1939, 1947, and 1985. As a consolation prize, Shenandoah National Park says they will look into improving the lower portion of the road and contributing to Madison County’s “Hoover Days” celebration that was once a big draw in the area, but has recently seen waning interest.