September 18, 2007
Shenandoah National Park invites the public to join in a National Public Lands Day Event for a day of learning and participation in the identification and control of invasive exotic plants September 29, 2007. At Byrd Visitor Center park staff and volunteers will describe the situation regarding invasive plant threats and current impacts on native wildflowers. They will also lead expeditions around Big Meadows where the public may join in to protect the meadow’s beauty by controlling known invasive plant threats. This event is intended to show how the public can volunteer to fight back against invasive plants and how with simple awareness they can avoid environmental problems at home.
Activities begin 9:00 a.m. Saturday at Byrd Visitor Center with an informative talk called the “Story of Natives.” The talk is followed by a hands-on activity in Big Meadows. The talk and work session will be repeated at 1:30 P.M. Free park admission is available to the public to celebrate National Public Lands Day. Also, a free pass for future entry into any National Park unit (and other participating federal areas) will also be given to the first 100 participants who attend the volunteer event. You may call for event information at (540) 999-3496.
Over 25 percent of the plant species at Shenandoah National Park are not native to the area. Many of those plants do not have the accompanying natural biological control agents from their home environments and thus have unfair advantage over natives. They are invasive. Though exotic plants are not new to the area, the impacts of invasive exotics are increasingly serious. Native species are being displaced and the processes of forest succession are being stopped by the overwhelming presence of such plants as Oriental lady’s thumb, Japanese stiltgrass, Oriental bittersweet, mile-a-minute vine, and others. Without controls, it may become impossible to maintain the Park’s designated federal wilderness in a natural untrammeled condition. By presidential Executive Order #13112, the National Park Service and other federal agencies are directed to control invasive species and ensure that no new exotic infestations become established.
The National Public Lands Day event at Big Meadows is part of a larger program for increasing public volunteerism in national parks and other federal lands. Locally, it is made possible by the National Environmental Education Foundation and the cooperative sponsorship of the National Park Foundation, Tauck Foundation, National Park Conservation Association, Shenandoah National Park Association, Invasive Plant Control, Inc., and others.
ARAMARK Convention and Tourism Services, the authorized concessioner responsible for providing lodging and other visitor services in the park, invites people interested in staying overnight to contact them for reservations at (800) 999-4714. For more information on the National Public Lands Day at Big Meadows, contact the Shenandoah National Park’s Invasive Plant Management office at 540-999-3496 or visit the Park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/shen..