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Contact: Jodi French-Burr, 304-574-2115
Contact: Richard Altare, 304-466-0417
Glen Jean, West Virginia, April 15, 1013 - Spring in West Virginia highlights our 10th annual New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend, April 19th - 21st, where we celebrate the glories of Appalachian spring. Free programs that highlight these natural wonders are scheduled at New River Gorge National River, Babcock State Park, Hawks Nest State Park, Little Beaver State Park, Pipestem Resort State Parks, Tamarack "The Best of West Virginia," and The Clay Center. These programs are also a celebration of National Park Week, April 20th - 28th, http://www.nationalparks.org/national-park-week.
The New River Gorge region lies at the core of the globally significant Appalachian forest and contains the most diverse flora of any river gorge in central and southern Appalachia. Over 75,000 acres of natural habitats are protected in regional parks, all havens for plants and animals. Besides providing essential habitat for endangered mammals, rare birds and amphibians, a dedicated plant enthusiast could find 1384 different species of plants within the boundaries of area national and state parks.
The ever-changing seasons and topography of the gorge offers an amazing glimpse into the varied habitats of 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, great trillium, Dutchman's breeches, and Virginia bluebell. The understory is alive with redbud and dogwood. The season finale has showy displays of Catawba rhododendron, flame azalea, Fraser magnolia, and tulip poplar into the last days of May.
Here are the event programs that highlight this season and our shared stewardship of these natural treasures. All programs are free. Bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes for all guided walks. We hope you'll join us for this celebration of spring in Appalachia!
Friday, April 19, 2013
· Handy-work for Earth Day: Garlic Mustard Pull. 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, Glade Creek trailhead on Glade Creek Access Road in New River Gorge National River near Prince, WV. Lend a helping hand to the natural forest. Team up with park staff to remove a very troublesome invasive plant species, garlic mustard. Wear long sleeves, long pants, sturdy walking shoes, and work gloves. Space is limited. Reservations requested by April 17; call 304-465-6523.
· Wildflower ID 101: Basic Field Guide Skills. 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm, Rend Trail on Rt. 25 near Thurmond, WV. Bring your favorite wildflower field guide (or use one of ours) for a close-up look at spring blossoms on this easy walk.
· 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 youth performance arts. This celebration of ecology through art features performances by students of Ansted Middle School's Chamber Choir, Dance It! Dance Studio, New River Youth Symphony, and Park Middle School's drama group.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
· Early Birding at Grandview. 7:30 am to 8:45 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.
· 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 wildflowers along the way. 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 17; call 304-466-0417.
· Afternoon with the Artists. 4:00 pm to 5:30 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 artists demonstrate the art of glass etching and wood carving. Even try your hand at close-up flower photography in the garden (cameras will be available). Explore the art gallery and Youth Arts in the Parks youth art exhibit at your leisure.
· Nature's Tales of Legend and Lore. 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, auditorium at Tamarack in Beckley, WV. Hear stories of adventure, magic, intrigue, superstition, and much more - legends of nature for all ages.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
· 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: Nature of Brush Creek. 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, nature center at Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, WV. Enjoy beautiful waterfalls and blooms along Brush Creek on this easy 2.5 mile round trip walk. Meet at the nature center to car caravan to the trailhead.
· Rails & Redbuds Stroll. 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Hawks Nest Rail Trail trailhead in Ansted, WV. Walk this creek-side rail trail to discover what's blooming near the river's edge on this leisurely 1.5 mile walk.
· Little Beaver's Natural Wonders Walk. 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, park office at Little Beaver State Park in Beaver, WV. The water's edge is a place to find many of nature's wonders, be it the still waters of the lake or along the edge of a mountain stream. Discover the watershed on this 1.1 mile hike.
April 1 through 29, 2013
· Youth Arts in the Parks Art Contest Exhibit. 8:00 am to 8:00 pm daily, art exhibit in the vestibules leading to the center courtyard and the David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery, Tamarack in Beckley, WV. Students from Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers 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 details about this event or area National Park Service sites visit http://www.nps.gov/neri, check out the park Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/newrivergorgenps. Stop by or call any New River Gorge National River visitor center (304-574-2115 or 304-466-0417). For more details about West Virginia State Park sites visit www.wvstateparks.com.