Phased reopening of Blue Ridge Parkway happening this week
Photo of Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Landscape Appalachian Mountains Ridges Sunset Layers over Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Getty Images
Over the weekend, the southernmost 14 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway reopened after they were shuttered as a safety precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mileposts 454-469 opened in coordination with the Qualla Boundary and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Other popular sections of the Parkway will open May 15. Hiking on all parkway trails is permitted, even if roads leading to the trailhead are closed. “I encourage everyone who visits the parkway in the coming days to recreate responsibly while here, whether that’s social distancing on park trails or driving safely on this beautiful, scenic drive,” Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent J.D. Lee said in a press release.
WVDNR seeks citizen help in tracking fireflies
There aren’t as many lightening bugs twinkling in the evening sky and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources wants to understand why. In an effort to seek answers for the declining firefly population, WVDNR has launched a citizen science project to track lightening bugs in the state.
West Virginia’s 40 species of fireflies have declined in number due to habitat loss, pesticide use and other environmental causes such as light pollution, WVDNR said in a press release. DNR biologists hope to better understand the firefly decline by asking the public to collect data. Members of the public can report sightings at wvdnr.gov/fireflies.
Blackhawk helicopter rescues injured hiker in Linville Gorge
A hiker that fell while recreating in Linville Gorge injured has lower extremities and had to be rescued by Blackhawk helicopter, the News Herald reports. The hiker was walking with a friend when he was injured. The friend hiked about an hour and a half to find cell phone service before calling 911.
First responders reached the hiker quickly but determined it would take between 40 and 50 people to carry him out of the forest. They requested the assistance from the North Carolina National Guard, North Carolina Emergency Management and the North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Search and Rescue Team, said Burke County Rescue Squad Battalion Chief Wes Taylor. A helicopter was dispatched, and plucked the hiker from the woods around 8:30 p.m., about seven hours after the ordeal began.
The injured man was an experienced hiker and was well prepared for the hike, Taylor said.