Fungi InventoryOctober 2020
Being in the heart of the temperate deciduous forests of eastern North America means the New River Gorge receives plenty of moisture, which leads to an abundance of mushrooms and other fungi! However, without a thorough inventory and list of fungi species present within the park, properly preserving the hundreds of estimated species can be a difficult task. Learn about the ecological role of fungi in this video from an expert who is conducting the first every fungi inventory within the park. This inventory will be used by the National Park Service's resource management team to better preserve the amazing fungal biodiversity within the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
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Learn about the ecological role of fungi in this video from an expert who is conducting the first every fungi inventory within the park.
Paw Paw Seed CollectionOctober 2020
Early fall is pawpaw season! Pawpaw trees bear the largest edible fruit found in the United States and belong to the scientific family Annonaceae, a group of around 2400 species, of which pawpaw is the only species in the family not found in the tropics. This gives the pawpaw fruit its tropical taste, often considered a mix between a mango and a banana. Learn about how the parks' resource management division is collecting pawpaw seeds to aid in the restoration of native habitats within the three river parks of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area.
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Learn about how the parks' resource management division is collecting pawpaw seeds to aid in the restoration of native habitats within the three river parks of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area.
Dragonfly Mercury ProjectAugust 2020
Did you know that before maturing into the fast flyers we are all familiar with seeing during the summer months, dragonflies live in their nymph stage within the water for up to five years? An even more interesting fact is that they are a great indicator species to test for mercury levels within the environment. Mercury is a pollutant that is hazardous not only to the environment and the animals that live within it, but to human health as well. Dragonfly nymphs are an easy way to test mercury content within a certain geographic area since they are relatively easy to catch. Mercury is biomagnified, meaning that levels will continue to rise amongst organisms that are higher in food chain. Everything within the ecosystem will have a baseline level of mercury, but as animals ingest other creatures, they accumulate the mercury content of the previous animal. This makes mercury deadly for predators at the top of the food chain, including for humans.
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is now one of over 100 National Park Service sites that are part of a nationwide project to study mercury levels from collected dragonfly nymphs. To read more about this project, visit: https://www.nps.gov/articles/dragonfly-mercury-project.htm
Hemlock Forest ProtectionAugust 2020
Have you ever noticed little white masses that resemble cotton balls on the underside of eastern hemlock needles? This is an easy way to indicate if the tree is infested with hemlock woolly adelgid, a small, aphid-like insect that is considered an invasive species and threatens the continued health of hemlock forests across the eastern United States. The small cotton balls are not the actual insect itself, but instead are protective egg sacs, with the adelgid being so small it cannot be seen with the naked eye. Adelgids kill hemlock trees by feeding on sap at the base of the tree's needles, depriving the tree of nutrients after multiple years of infestation.
Since becoming widespread in the 1980s, the hemlock woolly adelgid has caused hundreds of thousands of hemlock trees to die, changing entire ecosystems. After first being detected in the New River Gorge National River in the early 2000s, the National Park Service has implemented a rigorous control program to stop large-scale tree mortality brought on by this invasive pest and maintain the health of the park's hemlock forests.
Moth Species InventoryJuly 2020
To celebrate National Moth Week, New River Gorge National River conducted the first ever moth species inventorying within the park. Photos and data of the various moth species will be added to a database that includes all of the known species of flora and fauna within the park. This helps resource management staff gain a better understanding of the amazing biodiversity within the New River Gorge, so that species can be preserved for future generations
Removing Invasive Species with GoatsJuly 2020
The Thurmond goats are back for their third and final year! This year the goats will be here for ninety days and have the important task of eating the remaining invasive plants within the Thurmond Historic District. Many non-native invasive plants threaten historic structures within the goats' three-acre buffet, particularly the invasive vine kudzu. Kudzu and other invasive plants not only pose a threat to the structures by growing atop of and weakening foundations, but by also increasing fuel loading for possible wildfires. After three years of goat grazing we hope to see the invasive plants stressed enough so that they will not be able to outcompete native plants and grasses that will be planted after the grazing is completed.
Last updated: January 26, 2021