Thursday, September 15, 2016

Volunteers needed for Friends of the Gorge clean-up

Friends of New River Gorge National River is calling for volunteers to help remove steps at Grandview's Tunnel Trail that were impacted by arson in April, according to Julena Campbell, public affairs officer for the National Park Service.

The Saturday event has been arranged to take place in conjunction with National Public Lands Day and is the non-profit organization's first volunteer event, Campbell said.

Volunteers should meet at the Grandview visitor center in the national park between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Volunteers and park staff will demolish and remove the burned steps and carry them off the trail with the assistance of a rope line. No special skills are necessary.

Volunteers should wear long pants and close-toed shoes, Campbell said.

Water and snacks will be provided by the Friends organization, and lunch will be donated by Steak Escape in Beckley. The first 20 volunteers will also receive a special pass granting them free admission to one federal land site within the next year.

Friends President Anna Zeigler stressed the importance of local assistance in battling vandalism, which recently became up public issue when boulders at the park's Long Point Overlook were spray-painted.

"It’s important for us to come together as a community and support our local national parks, especially when they are damaged by vandalism like graffiti and arson," Zeigler said.

Friends of New River Gorge National River Inc. is as charitable organization that supports the three national parks of southern West Virginia -- that of the New River Gorge National River as well as the Bluestone National Scenic River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

To learn more about Friends, or to become a member, visit friendsofnrgnr.org. Additional information on New River Gorge National River can be found at www.nps.gov/neri.

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