Spring in the South District

There’s never a dearth of things to do, to see, to experience, in the South District of Shenandoah National Park. Spring is a beautiful time of year, and it’s especially so now. There’s plenty of sunlight, things are green again, wildflowers are out, and the views from the trail are great—leaf-out is creeping up the Appalachians, so the forest has not yet turned into The Long Green Tunnel.

So, we crawl out from our short winter hibernation and venture out for another season of trail maintenance. There’s lots to do, too.

Shenandoah Trail Crew

This crew, sponsored and supported jointly by PATC and Shenandoah National Park, is a great opportunity for anyone who has a week to spare and who loves to be out in the mountains and forest. Traditionally, the Shenandoah Trail Crew works (and, I mean works) two weeks in each of the three districts of the Park. All crew members are volunteers—volunteers who are not required to be members of PATC. You’re provided room in one of the premier remote but comfortable facilities anywhere: the J. Frank Schairer Trail Center near Eaton Hollow Overlook on Skyline Drive on land owned by PATC. You’re also fed, courtesy of PATC. Crew members only have to bring sleeping bags, their clothes, and personal toilet articles.

PATC is also looking for a Crew Leader; there are other requirements for this compensated position, so check with the Supervisor of Trails if you are interested.

The Shenandoah Trail Crew will work in the South District this year during the weeks of June 1st through 5th and August 10th through 14th.

Rock Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP)

According to Melissa Rudacille, the ROMP will soon be submitted to the Park Superintendent and Regional Director for approval, based on the FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact). Areas near trails in our district that may be affected are the AT and Blackrock Spur at Blackrock and Frazier Discovery. The trails themselves shouldn’t be affected; just certain rock outcrops near a trail.

NPS & The Recovery Act

The National Park Service, Northeast Region recently announced plans to use $750M from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on 800 projects in various parks.

Chainsaw Training & Certification

I thank all who took this vital training and were certified, or re-certified, for chainsaw use in the Park at the course offered in April. If you missed it, PATC, SNP, and ATC are offering a second training session in the fall. I’ll see you there, too!


You probably know this, but Panorama is no more. The Park plans to build and staff a visitor’s center and museum dedicated to the Civilian Conservation Corps and their work on Skyline Drive and in the Park. However, Melissa Rudacille informed us recently that there are now rest rooms, water, and a pay phone there. The upper and lower parking areas are open, too.

Loft Mountain Contact Station

The SNP proposes to build a new visitor contact station at Loft Mountain Campground.

Weapons in National Parks

On March 24th, the NPS issued a press release concerning the control of personally-owned weapons in National Park units. In compliance with recent court decisions, the Service reinstated its former policy: it’s prohibited to “possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms” in units of the National Park System.

Rockfish Gap Entrance Station

Apparently, the new entrance station at Rockfish Gap is complete, occupied, and operational. The original station will remain in-situ (until it falls down); it’s either on or is eligible for the National Registry of Historic Places. However, the hut/trail that was attached to it as an extension will be removed.