Outdoor News: Openings, Closings, Death on a Trail, and more

Sunrise at Shenandoah National Park – Photo from Getty Images

Phase two re-opening of Shenandoah National Park starts this week

Shenandoah National Park entered phase two of their reopening plan yesterday. Beginning at 7 a.m. on Thursday, June 11, the entire park will be open 24 hours a day. The backcountry, including shelters and huts, will be open for overnight camping. Campgrounds will open at noon with a limited capacity.

Additionally, all trails and boundary access are reopened. Most picnic areas will open as will many concession-operated services. On Friday, June 12, the Park Store at Byrd Visitor Center will open as well (masks required.) Visit the park website for more details. 

Tennessee’s Rock Island State Park swimming locations to close in coming weeks

Tennessee State Parks is alerting visitors to Rock Island State Park that swimming locations in the river gorge section of the park will need to be closed in the coming weeks due to water releases at Great Falls Dam. 

Great Falls Dam is expected to be inactive spill mode through July 24. When the dam is in spill mode, massive amounts of water may be discharged suddenly, affecting conditions for miles downstream. For visitor safety, all state park sections of the river gorge below the dam will be closed, including all swimming spots in the gorge as well as the Upstream Access Trail and the Old Mill Access Trail. 

Can you get COVID-19 from ticks and mosquitos?

Ticks and mosquitos can transmit serious disease to humans. As you hit the trail this summer, armed with your bug spray and your tick repellent, you may be wondering if you can get COVID-19 from a tick or mosquito bite. 

“There are no biting insects or ticks that can transmit COVID-19,” Philip Armstrong, a virologist/medical entomologist with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Sciences at the Center for Vector Biology & Zoonotic Diseases, told TriCornerNews. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is spread in saliva and mucus, explains Armstrong, not a bloodborne virus. “It doesn’t get picked up by mosquitoes or ticks during blood feeding.” 

Man found dead on hiking trail at South Mountains State Park

A 70-year-old man was found dead on a trail in North Carolina’s South Mountains State Park on Thursday. A researcher with the park found the man’s body on a strenuous hiking trail on Thursday afternoon, Park Superintendent Jonathan Griffith said.

The hikers identity has not been released. The medical examiner is reviewing the cause of death, but it appears to be natural. “It’s certainly a sad and tragic loss of life,” Griffith told The News Herald. “We don’t want to see, certainly, anyone get injured or pass away in state parks.” 

West Virginia DNR stocks nearly 6,000 pounds of catfish

Leading up to West Virginia’s annual free fishing weekend, the state has stocked nearly 6,000 pounds of channel catfish in 41 pounds and lakes around the state, the WVDNR said in a press release. Catfish stocking starts each year as spring trout season winds down and coincides with the state’s free fishing weekend, June 13- 14, 2020.

“There are a good number of trophy-sized channel catfish in the mix this year,” said Jim Hedrick, DNR hatchery program manager. “We even have a few albinos out there, so anglers have a really unique opportunity to catch a white catfish.” 

Bathrooms opening along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Park managers announced that bathrooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway will begin opening June 13, the Citizen Times reports. Campgrounds and visitor centers remain closed for now in both North Carolina and Virginia. Parkway hiking trails are open.

“The parkway is seeing typical visitation patters for the time of year,” parkway spokesperson Caitlin Worth told the Citizen Times. “People can expect to encounter crowds at popular trailheads. If visitors encounter a crowded trailhead or full parking lot, they are encouraged to try another area,” Worth said.

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