Though the landscape within the Blue Ridge Parkway --outside of the parkway, itself -- was closed during the recent shutdown of the National Park System, rangers had plenty of work to attend to, including the arrest of a man poaching mushrooms in the Parkway.
Chief Ranger Steve Stinnett provided the following list of incidents investigated by rangers during the closure:
* Rangers came upon a car parked along the road with several varieties of mushrooms on its front seat. When the owner returned, the rangers found that he had another six pounds of mushrooms in his possession. Investigation and a consent search of the vehicle led to the discovery of records for $22,766 in sales going back to April and a contact list for restaurants and other buyers. Records also showed that the man had sold over a thousand pounds of various mushrooms (chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, lobster, oyster, morel and chanterelle) and hundreds of pounds of ramps, which he admitted were collected on NPS, state and private lands. Charges against him are pending.
* A ranger served papers on a man who hit a pedestrian and two dogs with his motorcycle while drunk (.19 BAC) and speeding.
* An investigation was begun into a report from local police that people had been contacted by a police impersonator at two different locations on the parkway.
* A 76-year-old woman took a five-foot fall on the Green Stone Trail, suffering injuries that left her paralyzed from the chest down. She remains in a hospital on a ventilator.
* Three people were injured and taken to local hospital following a head-on collision in heavy fog at Reid’s Gap.
Rangers also dealt with several illegal camping incidents, auto and motorcycle crashes, drug and poaching arrests, and an illegal group bike ride, the chief ranger reported.