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North Bend State Park to host 51st Nature Wonder Weekend September. 21-23, 2018

The Free Press WV

North Bend State Park’s Nature Wonder Weekend, North America’s premier and longest-running wild foods event, will celebrate its 51st annual event September 21-23. The theme of this year’s event is “Forage and Feast.”

“This year we will get back to the basics of this long-running event, and participants will enjoy a weekend of foraging and preparation at its best,” said Emily Fleming, deputy director for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “North Bend State Park has long been a forager’s paradise with an abundance of edible wild foods. Experienced foragers will be there to help attendees discover the richness nature provides.”

Wild food foragers from across the country attend the Nature Wonder Weekend every year. This year’s keynote speaker will be Doug Elliott, naturalist, herbalist, storyteller and author from Union Mills, North Carolina. Other guest speakers will include Mike Krebill, wild foods author and teacher from Keokuk, Iowa, and Sam England, chief of West Virginia State Parks.

Events begin Friday evening and conclude Sunday morning. There are scheduled speakers, presentations, nature walks, the event’s first-ever bike hike and collection and preparation of wild foods. Activities include a park tour, wild food identification instruction, the Hazel Wood Commemorative Wild Food Cooking Contest and the Bill Faust Wild Cake Contest. The Wild Drink Contest winner is awarded the honorary Maxine Scarbro Friendship Cup.

Overnight lodging packages as well as day-only attendance and meal options are available. Guests may reserve lodge rooms, cabins or camping sites. Packages for traditional Appalachian-style meals are available at North Bend Lodge restaurant.

To register, contact Wendy Greene by calling 304.558.2754 or send an email to . A registration form is available at and overnight lodging reservation information is available at wvstateparks.com/event/nature-wonder-weekend-north-bend/.     

Nature Wonder Weekend is sponsored by the National Wild Foods Association, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, and North Bend State Park.

State park uses goats to attack invasive weeds

The Free Press WV

After unsuccessful attempts with chemical and mechanical weed treatments at New River Gorge, the National Park Service has decided to try its luck with an all-natural solution: goats.

New River Gorge National River says in a news release that 24 goats began a monthlong intensive grazing period Friday in the Thurmond area of West Virginia.

Officials hope the animals are able to kill fast-growing, invasive weed species that include kudzu and Japanese knotweed.

The release says goats continually eat plants, which will stress and weaken them until they eventually die.

Plans call for the goats to return to the area over the next two years so Park Service biologists can gauge their effectiveness.

Official say the grazed areas will be replanted with native grass and wildflower species.

Elk Management Project Tours begin at Chief Logan Lodge in September and October 2018

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be leading 20 guided tours of the state’s elk reintroduction site in Logan County in September and October. Public tours will start at Chief Logan Lodge and include a visit to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, where elk from Kentucky and Arizona were released in 2016 and 2018.

West Virginia’s last native elk was seen in Webster County in 1875. About 90 free-roaming elk make up the growing herd. The tour is four hours and includes a program about the elk, their habits, habitat, and the challenges and future of elk management, led by Chief Logan State Park naturalist and biologist Lauren Cole.

“There is a good chance tourists will see an elk or even hear a bull bugle,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “But even if they don’t, these tours are still something you don’t want to miss. The program is fun and informative, and the location and terrain of southern West Virginia is amazing.”
Morning or evening tours are offered at 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Advance registration is required and participation is limited to 13. The tour costs $30 for adults and $27 for kids 15 and younger. Tickets include breakfast or late lunch, the educational program, transportation and a tour souvenir. An overnight package is available at Chief Logan Lodge for $170 (double occupancy) and includes tour tickets and dinner for two.

Ticket dates and times are not transferable for other dates. Program and tour is rain or shine. Participants must wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots and long pants. Participants may want to wear a light jacket and bring a walking stick and binoculars.

For reservations, call Chief Logan Lodge at 304-855-6100. For ticket and tour questions, send an email to . Chief Logan Lodge is near Chief Logan State Park in Logan County. The facility features a 75-room lodge, restaurant and conference center.

Scheduled dates and times for the 2018 Elk Management Project Tour programs are:

  Saturday, September 08 — Morning
  Sunday, September 09 — Morning
  Saturday, September 15 — Morning
  Saturday, September 15 — Evening
  Thursday, September 20 — Evening
  Sunday, September 23 — Morning
  Tuesday, September 25 — Evening
  Saturday, September 29 — Morning
  Saturday, September 29 — Evening
  Sunday, September 30 — Morning


  Saturday, October 06 — Morning
  Saturday, October 06 — Evening
  Sunday, October 07 — Morning
  Thursday, October 11 — Evening
  Saturday, October 13 — Morning
  Saturday, October 13 — Evening
  Sunday, October 14 — Morning
  Saturday, October 20 — Morning
  Saturday, October 20 — Evening
  Sunday, October 21 — Morning

DNR Director seeks improved access to public land for hunters

The Free Press WV

The rugged terrain of southern West Virginia can be a double edged sword for hunters. The steep hillsides make for tremendous wildlife habitat. The terrain gives deer, bear, turkeys and now elk a place to roam in a fairly unmolested atmosphere. But on the other side the steep terrain can make access difficult for a hunter. West Virginia Division of Natural Director Steven McDaniel wants to improve the access.

“We’ve got to focus on getting better access for our hunters on public lands,” McDaniel told MetroNews. “In Logan County you’ve got really steep terrain and it’s our job to get as good access as we can into these sites.”

Part of the access which McDaniel wants to pursue involves limited ATV and UTV use on a small section of the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area.

“I want to state emphatically and up front, nobody at DNR is interested in opening up Wildlife Management Areas to ATVS. We are totally opposed to that,” said McDaniel. “All we are doing is considering a half-mile access road in one section in Logan County to allow them to get to the top of the mountain.”

The idea was first brought to the director’s attention in a discussion with the Big Game Hunters Association of West Virginia. The Logan County based organization touted the idea as a way to help older hunters with limited mobility reach distant areas within the sprawling 40,000 acre area.

“We have built a parking area in the one area we’re talking about, but it’s another quarter or half mile to the top (of the ridge),” McDaniel explained. “It’s too steep to take a truck all the way to the top, but you can go right up with a four wheeler or UTV with no problem.. All we’re proposing or looking to do is give hunters the ability to take an ATV or UTV to the top to a gated parking area.”

Once on top, hunters would be required to park their machine in a designated parking area and walk into the woods. McDaniel said there would be strict user requirements and those parked would need to get a permit from the DNR District Office. The ridge top stretches for 11 miles. McDaniel further stressed it’s not about allowing unfettered access on the machines to the entire Wildlife Management Area. Part of the plan would be to install surveillance cameras along the ridge to monitor any unauthorized riding.

“In no way are we proposing letting ATV’s run through the WMA,” he explained. “It’s just a way to get to the designated parking area.”

The aging population of West Virginia’s hunting public, ailments like black lung, and other obstacles are what McDaniel hopes to address with the proposal.

“We have a lot of beautiful Wildlife Management Areas where we’re spending millions of dollars to create great hunting. But in a lot of cases, you can’t get to them,” he said.

Not surprisingly there is resistance and concern to the idea. The Tomblin WMA was created with the expressed purpose of establishing an elk reintroduction zone for West Virginia. Some groups who are heavily invested in the effort to reintroduce elk are understandably concerned about what the change might mean to the program. The stretch of unimproved and narrow road up the mountainside, according to McDaniel, is five miles away from the area where elk were introduced two years ago.

“It’s not close to it., it’s miles away. Will the elk get over there? Yes, at some point they probably will,” he explained. “But again, we’re only talking about a half mile of road to get to the top of the mountain. We are NOT talking driving ATV’s all over the mountain and chasing elk.”

There have been no final decisions on the proposal for the Tomblin WMA, but McDaniel wants more input from all stakeholders. He added he’s interested in exploring ways to provide West Virginia hunters more access to other public hunting lands all across the state.

~~  Chris Lawrence ~~

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