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Outdoor Updates: How to stay safe if you’re stuck outside in a lightning storm

Friday, July 19

How to stay safe if you’re stuck outside in a lightning storm

Summer is the season we take to the trails and waterways for some warm weather adventure. But summer is also the time when thunderstorms seem to pop up out of nowhere, putting those of us unable to seek shelter at risk. Lightning strikes about 300 people each year. So what should you do if you’re out on the trails when a storm rolls through? Follow these tips to stay safe:

  1. Check the weather. Thunderstorms tend to brew in the afternoon, so try to hike in the morning when the threat of storms is reduced.
  2. If you see a storm approaching, leave ridges, peaks and exposed elevated areas.
  3. If you can’t reach your car or a safe shelter before the storm hits, seek refuge in a valley or depression. Avoid standing near tall trees, especially if they are isolated. If you are hiking in a group, spread out so that everyone in your group is at least 100 feet apart. Make sure metal-framed backpacks and hiking poles are at least 100 feet away, too.
  4. Assume the safest position by crouching on the ground with your feet together and the weight on the balls of your feet. Lower your head and cover your ears. Do not lie flat on the ground. 

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation protects more than 1,000 acres in 6 months

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has added more than 1,000 acres to six properties in the first six months of 2019, expanding existing state parks and adding additional land to future state parks. Land acquisitions include:

  • 233 acres at forthcoming Clinch River State Park, a portion of which will provide river access for canoes and kayaks
  • 85 acres at Mount Joy Pond Natural Area Preserve to protect rare species habitat and provide a smoke buffer for prescribed burns
  • 9 acres at Hungry Mother State Park to provide a buffer at the entrance of the park
  • 401 acres at York River State Park
  • 214 acres at Mayo River State Park
  • 106 acres at Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve which will provide migratory bird habitat

U.S. Forest Service proposes to eliminate public involvement in decisions involving many national forests

The Trump administration and the US Forest Service are proposing to end a requirement that the Forest Service notify the public, allow for public comment, and analyze environmental impacts before making decisions about logging, road building and pipeline construction in most national forests.

According to Kentucky Heartwood, the proposed rule would amend the agency’s procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act and undermine government transparency, accountability, public participation and science-based decision making.

The Forest Service is accepting public comments until August 12, 2019. Comments can be submitted directly through the Forest Service website or through the Southern Environmental Law Center

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