Nature | Environment

Nature, Environment

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.

Ginseng season started September 01

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s 2018 ginseng season opened Saturday, September 01, and continues through Friday, November 30.

New to the law this season is that all diggers will need to provide a government- issued photo identification to sell their ginseng to a registered dealer. Fines for violating the law shall be no less than $500 up to $1,000 for a first offense and $1,000 and not more than $2,000 for multiple offenses.

The perennial herb grows slowly with seeds that take two years to germinate. By law, only ginseng plants with three or more prongs are old enough to harvest. Ginseng diggers must replant the seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.

Poaching is illegal and threatens the survival of wild ginseng. Digging for ginseng is not permitted in State Forests, State Parks or other state-owned public lands. Ginseng hunters must have written permission to dig the plants from private property.

Diggers have until March 31 to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the West Virginia Division of Forestry weigh stations. A weight receipt is a record of the ginseng dug during the current year and the individual who wants to hold it over to the next digging/buying season.

Ginseng grows throughout the state and can be found in all 55 counties.

For more information on state and federal laws regulating the harvesting and selling of ginseng, call the West Virginia Division of Forestry at 304-558-2788 or visit

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

Fighting the Caribbean’s Turtle-Killing Scourge

The Free Press WV

This isn’t fun in the sun. Sargassum algae is drowning baby sea turtles, dolphins and fish in its leafy, brown thatch.

It’s especially bad in the Caribbean, with its rotting masses choking off beaches and rendering fishermen idle. Experts believe nitrogen fertilizer runoff from the Mississippi and Amazon rivers — or even the far-off Congo — is mostly to blame.

For those managing the region’s response, there’s no hope of stopping Sargassum, so they’re responding as they do to hurricanes: by improving forecasting and preparedness before the next onslaught.

Learn More:    The New Republic

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