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Glen Jean, West Virginia, April 21, 2014.Spring in West Virginia highlights one of the earth's greatest natural treasures, the biologically diverse southern Appalachian forest. This weekend's 11thannual New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend is a celebration of this amazing natural heritage, April 25 –27, 2014. This event highlights the glories of the season and our shared stewardship of these natural treasures at New River Gorge National River, Tamarack, Babcock, Hawks Nest, Little Beaver, and Pipestem Resort state parks.
So what is so special about this area, the cause for such celebration? The New River Gorge has the most diverse flora of any river gorge in central Appalachia. New River Gorge National River and area West Virginia State Parks help preserve this unbroken and globally significant section of the Appalachian forest ecosystem. Besides providing essential habitat for endangered mammals, rare birds and amphibians, a dedicated botanist can find over 1400 species of plants in these park sites.
The reason for this diversity of plants stems from the varied topography of the gorge, the northern flow of the New River that provides a pathway for southern plants to migrate and grow along the warmer sheltered riverbanks, and the higher elevations of the gorge that provide habitat for northern species.
In the New River Gorge spring begins with the first solitary bloom of a skunk cabbage, bloodroot, or trout lily by the riverside in early March. April offers a forest carpeted with wake robin and great trillium, dutchman's breeches, and Virginia bluebell, and the understory alive with redbud and dogwood. The finale has showy displays of Catawba rhododendron, flame azalea, Fraser magnolia, and tulip poplar into the last days of May. With over 72,000 acres of protected habitat, New River Gorge is a haven for a great diversity of both plants and animals. These public parks are places any of us can explore to discover such wonders, especially during events like New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend.
All programs are FREE! Bring water and wear sturdy walking shoes for guided walks. Snacks, binoculars, a hand lens, and a favorite field guide are also useful.Advanced reservations are requested for the Garlic Mustard Pull programs and the Hike Into Spring! at Grandview. For further information or to make reservations 304-466-0417.
Here is the programs schedule for this year's event:
Friday, April 25, 2014
Handywork for Earth Day: Garlic Mustard Pull
8:30 am to 12:00 pm,Glade Creek trailhead on Glade Creek Access Road in New River Gorge National River near Prince, WV
9:30 am - 11:30 am, Meet in the lobby at McKeever Lodge at Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, WV.
Celebrate Earth Day and lend a helping hand to the natural forest at one of two locations. Join park staff to help remove a troublesome invasive plant species, garlic mustard. Wear long sleeves, long pants, sturdy walking shoes, work gloves, and bring water. Space is limited.Reservations requested by April 22; call 304-466-0417.
Wildflower ID 101: Basic Field Guide Skills
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm,Long Point trailhead off Gatewood Road near Fayetteville, WV. Bring your favorite wildflower field guide (or use one of ours) for a close-up look at spring blossoms on this 2.0 mile walk through old field, forest, and near a mountain stream.
Youth Arts in the Parks Performance Celebration
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm,auditorium at Tamarack in Beckley, WV. See how nature has inspired performance arts of choral, dance, instrument, and the spoken word. This celebration of ecology through art features performances by students of Ansted Middle School's Show Choir, Beckley-Stratton Middle School Reading Class, CODA Mountain Academy of Music, Karen's Academy of Dance, and Nicholas County High School's String Ensemble.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Early Birding at Grandview
7:30 am to 8:30 am,Grandview – Shelter #4 at New River Gorge National River in Grandview, WV.Bring your binoculars and get an early start with the local neighbors – birds. Explore several habitats to see feathered creature hang-outs.
Hike Into Spring!
9:00 am to 1:30 pm,Grandview – Shelter #4, New River Gorge National River in Grandview, WV. Join naturalists on a leisurely 2.5-mile hike from Grandview down to the New River, finding 60 to 70 different species of blooming wildflowers and other natural wonders along the way. The 1,400 foot elevation change offers an abundance of early and late blooming species in one hike. Be prepared for some steep terrain as we travel down an old dirt road. A free return shuttle will be provided.Reservations requested by April 22; call 304-466-0417.
Afternoon with the Artists
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm,Tamarack's front entrance garden and art studios in Beckley, WV.Come and go as you please to see how nature inspires the arts. See Tamarack artists demonstrate their skills. Try your hand at 5-minute photography in the garden (cameras will be available). Explore the art gallery and Youth Arts in the Parks exhibit at your leisure.
Little Beaver's Signs of Spring Walk
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm,park office at Little Beaver State Park in Beaver, WV.See spring in bloom on this leisurely 1.30 mile discover walk throughout the park. Look for wildflowers, signs of animals, and much more.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Spring Birding at Babcock
8:00 am to 9:30 am,Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park in Clifftop, WV.Stroll the diverse habitats of Babcock in search of the region's more secretive beauties—birds.
Falls & Flowers: the Nature of Brush Creek
2:00 pm to 4:30 pm,nature center at Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, WV.Enjoy beautiful waterfalls and blooms along Brush Creek on this moderate 3.0 mile round trip walk. Meet at the nature center to car caravan or shuttle to the trailhead.
Hawks Nest Views & Beauties Walk
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm,Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted, WV. Meet outside the park gift shop near the main overlook and the park's original stone buildings (not at the lodge).Explore the walkway to the views at the main overlook, as well as a forested loop trail, the original section of the park built by the CCC. Walk 1.0 mile on this leisurely stroll through this beautiful and historic area, seeing nature's wonders all around.
April 1 through 28, 2014
Youth Arts in the Parks
8:00 am to 8:00 pmdaily,art exhibit in the the center courtyard vestibules and the David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery, Tamarack in Beckley, WV.Students from Fayette, Nicholas, and Raleigh counties celebrate regional ecology through art in this special exhibit, works inspired by the nature of our public parks—especially wildflowers. www.tamarackwv.com
For more information about area National Park Service sites visit https://www.nps.gov/neri, check out the park Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/