Environment and Outdoors

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According to the latest numbers released this morning from the Virginia Department of Health there are 22 new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases being attributed to the Roanoke Valley. State health officials report 5 new cases in Roanoke City, 7 new cases in Roanoke County, and 3 new cases in Botetourt County and 7 new cases in Salem.

Those have hiked the popular McAfee’s Trail from Route 311 in Roanoke County know its somewhat of mad dash to cross from the parking lot to the trailhead – with a blind curve making it a bit of an adventure. Now VDOT plans to build a pedestrian bridge – and they’re asking for public feedback as WFIR’s Gene Marrano reports:

7-10 VDOT Bridge Wrap#1-WEB

See link to comments/design page at www.virginiadot.org/TrailBridgeatRoute311.

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down an appeals court ruling that would have blocked construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline beneath the Appalachian Trail. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the court voted 7-2 to overturn the ruling by the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond. The ruling will allow construction of the 42-inch-wide pipeline to tunnel beneath the AT in the George Washington National Forest. The decision will also enable Dominion Resources and its partners to cross the Blue Ridge between Augusta and Nelson counties to complete the $8 billion, 600-mile project.

From The City of Roanoke:During this week’s heavy rain, the City encouraged residents in the Cravens Creek Road neighborhood, as well as the Arbutus, Arbor, and Piedmont neighborhoods to evacuate their homes as a precaution, in case of flooding. With the water levels receding, officials have evaluated these areas and determined it is now safe for residents to return to their homes.

Safety information for flooding events can be found at this link. Information about flooding recovery resources is available on a designated page of the City’s website.

Another sign of life returning at least a little closer to normal: the U.S. Forest Service is re-opening trailheads and access points to the Appalachian Trail tomorrow. It is a coordinated re-opening  from Virginia to Georgia. But of particular local note, the trailhead to Dragon’s Tooth remains closed.

NEWS RELEASE: Roanoke, VA, May 21, 2020 –The USDA Forest Service will open a series of trailheads and access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on May 22. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia will participate in the coordinated reopening.

The Triple Crown in Virginia will remain closed, which includes Dragon’s Tooth trailhead.

To recreate responsibly outdoors, avoid congregating at parking areas, refrain from gathering in large groups and maintain a 6 feet distance- from others, especially when passing other hikers.

Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html. Bathroom facilities may not be available. Shelters will remain closed at this time.

While work continues opening trails and roads, staffing may remain limited to encourage safe distancing. This may also cause a delay in rescue operations. It is not recommended that visitors engage in risky recreation activities at this time.

Remember to review recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html, along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

From the City of Roanoke: Due to heavy rains, the Spring Valley Dam located in the City of Roanoke near Lake Dr. is in danger of failing which could cause flooding in the immediate area of the dam. To protect those that live near the dam, the following areas are being asked to evacuate their homes.
-3600 block of Cravens Creek Rd., SW to the 4000 block of Cravens Creek Rd., SW
-4000 block of Lake Dr.SW
-1400 block of Deyerle Rd., SW
-4000-4100 block of Brandon Ave., SW

Approximately 13 homes are affected by this evacuation. Residents are being alerted to evacuate by Reverse E-911 calls and Roanoke FireEMS Department and Roanoke Police Department – VA personnel are also going door to door to evacuate residents and asking them to move to higher ground.

Residents in this affected are advised to:
1. Evacuate now and go to higher ground outside the flood plain.
2. Gather supplies and leave immediately. Determine you and your family’s specific needs such as medication, baby items, etc. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment.
3. Keep important documents in a waterproof container and take them with you.
4. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

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