Storm Damage Continues to Impact the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests - Updated: 08/15/12, 3 p.m.

Release Date: Aug 15, 2012  

Storm Damage Continues to Impact the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Roanoke, VA – Several weeks since a series of strong storms moved unexpectedly across the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Forest Service continues to face significant challenges in repairing storm damage.  Much of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests’ 1.8 million acres of public land was affected by devastating straight-line winds, exceeding 80 mph in some areas.  The result was numerous closures to recreation areas, with trees and debris blocking countless roads and trails from public access.

Forest Service employees and concessionaires are vigorously working to remove hazard trees, and to reopen roads and trails impacted by these storms; however, the amount of damage could force this project to last for several more weeks.  Because of this, it is vital that the public understands the potential hazards that may exist throughout the national forests. 

“Due to the size and impact of the storm damage, we are asking the public to be mindful of hazardous situations when recreating on national forests,” said Henry Hickerson, Deputy Forest Supervisor for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.  “There are a lot of areas out there where leaning trees, or hanging branches could fall without warning, so the public should take caution and be aware of their surroundings at all times.”

Questions regarding specific roads and/or trails should be directed to the local district ranger stations (listed below), or the Forest Supervisor’s office at 540-265-5100.

The Following is a Current Conditions Report: 

Eastern Divide Ranger District (540-552-4641) - Bland, Botetourt, Craig, Giles, Monroe (WV), Montgomery, Pulaski, Roanoke, Smyth, Tazewell, and Wythe Counties
- Numerous trees are down on Forest Service roads and trails.  Appalachian Trail has many trees across it.  Contact district office for most current information.
- Cascades Day Use Area is open and fully operational.
- Fenwick Mines picnic shelter is open. 

Glenwood-Pedlar Ranger District (540-291-2188) - Amherst, Augusta, Bedford, Botetourt, Nelson, and Rockbridge Counties
- Bobblets Gap Road (FR #4008), Hales Fork/Overstreet Road (FR #190), North Creek Road (FR #59) along gravel portion from end of pavement to Apple Orchards Falls Trail Parking Lot, and Parkers Gap/Warblers Road (FR #812) from intersection with Thomas Mountain Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway are now open to the public.  Due to the rough condition of these roads, travel is only recommended for high clearance vehicles.

James River (540-962-2214) and Warm Springs (540-839-2521) Ranger Districts - Alleghany, Bath, and Highland Counties
- Longdale Day Use Area is closed until further notice.
- All other campgrounds and recreation facilities are open with full services, but some individual camp sites may be closed due to hazardous trees.
- Most roads are cleared and passible to vehicles.
- Trails are open but have not been cleared.  Expect numerous blown down trees.

Lee Ranger District (540-984-4101) - Frederick, Hampshire (WV), Hardy (WV), Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties
- The Lee Ranger District currently has no trail closures.

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (276-783-5196) - Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe Counties
- All roads and trails are now open.  Motorists should continue using caution on narrow forest roads.

North River Ranger District (540-432-0187) - Augusta, Highland, Pendleton (WV), and Rockingham Counties
- All thru-roads normally open year-round between US Highways 33 and 250 are open and clear of storm debris.  Crews continue to work at clearing areas north of 33 and south of 250.  We anticipate having all thru-roads, normally open year-round, cleared by mid-August.  We will begin clearing trails and secondary roads once all thru-roads are open.  Please contact the North River Ranger District for specific information on road and trail status.

-USFS-