Great Smoky Mountains National Park may have reopened, but Shenandoah National Park is still closed

View of the Smoky Mountains from Route 441 Newfound Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park may have reopened, but Shenandoah National Park is still closed

Two national parks flank either end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but only one of them has reopened after shutting down to slow the spread of Covid-19. Great Smoky Mountains National Park began a phased reopening on May 9, but Shenandoah National Park is still closed to the public for now, including Skyline Drive and all trails, including the Appalachian Trail.

On their website, the park says they are working on a phased approach to reopening once the health and safety of all visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners can be ensured. No reopening date has been announced, but visitors are asked to check the website for updates. 

Tennessee State Parks Hold Virtual 5K Race

Tennesseans that want to come together while staying apart are invited to participate in a virtual 5K race organized by Tennessee State Parks on World Bee Day, May 20. The virtual race can be run or walked from any location. The registration fee is $20, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tennessee State Park Honey Project, which helps establish honeybee hives in state parks across the state. 

The fee includes a finisher’s medal and certificate, both of which will be sent to the participant by mail, and a virtual bib that will be emailed. Contestants can complete the race at any point between May 17-23. Register for the virtual 5K here: https://honeyprojectvirtual5k.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=13476

A pandemic, murder hornets and now… giant gypsy moths

Here’s a dangerous question to ask these days: What’s next? 

Today, the answer is giant Hokkaido gypsy moths, which were spotted last week in Washington state, prompting Gov. Jay Inslee to issue an emergency proclamation. The moths are native to Asia and “could cause serious, widespread damage to our country’s landscape and natural resources,” if they become established, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

While the eastern U.S. has been home to gypsy moths since the 1860s, the Hokkaido gypsy moth is a separate species. If the Hokkaido gypsy moth becomes fully established and spread widely in the United States, “it could affect forests and landscape trees and shrubs in the invaded range,” University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp told USA TODAY.