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National park hosts stewardship events this weekend

Hikers traverse the Appalachian Trail as it winds through Shenandoah National Park.
Neal Lewis
Hikers traverse the Appalachian Trail as it winds through Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park is hosting three events on the stewardship of natural areas this weekend. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Park rangers and a team from the national nonprofit Leave No Trace will lead educational programs and a volunteer day this weekend. Eric Frey, the park's outdoor recreation planner, explained that the Leave No Trace principles go beyond just not littering.

ERIC FREY: Plan ahead and prepare. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Dispose of waste properly. Leave what you find – so, you know, especially here at Shenandoah, you can't collect any wildflowers or put a squirrel in your pocket, or anything like that! Minimize campfire impacts. … Respect wildlife – view our wildlife from a safe distance. And then finally, just be considerate of others.

There will be a talk at the Big Meadows amphitheater at 7 p.m. on Friday. Then, volunteers will set out on a stewardship project on Saturday, restoring backcountry campsites that are in an illegal location or have grown too large.

FREY: We encourage people to come out and backcountry camp. It is kind of dispersed camping here at Shenandoah, so we don't have designated sites, but we do encourage people to find a site that's already been used in the past, and that reduces our impacts when we have visitors go out and backcountry camp.

Educators will have a mock campsite set up at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center on Sunday morning for guests to test their knowledge of the Leave No Trace principles. All the events are free to attend, but registration is required for Saturday's volunteer project.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.