A slice of Shenandoah National Park, Whiteoak Canyon, soon will be added to the national Old-Growth Forest Network.
A ceremony marking that achievement will be held next Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Whiteoak Canyon Trailhead, milepost 42.4 along Skyline Drive. Joan Maloof, founder and director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, will speak briefly and present a certificate to Jim Schaberl, Shenandoah's chief of natural and cultural resources. The public is invited to attend.
“The National Parks have been called ‘America’s Best Idea,’” said Ms. Maloof in a prepared statement, “and we like to think of the Old-Growth Forest Network as ‘America’s Next Idea.’ Not every county is fortunate enough to have a national park, and even those with national parks do not always have a park with ancient forests. In Madison County (Virignia) they have the best of both, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize that. We look forward to adding more Virginia counties to the Network in the future.”
Whiteoak Canyon was selected by the Old-Growth Forest Network to be the representative forest for Madison County because it is one of the few areas of easily accessible old growth.
This will be the third Virginia forest to be awarded the recognition. The other forests are Fernbrook Natural Area in Albemarle County and James Madison Landmark Forest in Orange County.
The Whiteoak Canyon Trail, a rocky but well-maintained trail, gets more and more beautiful as visitors drop down along Whiteoak Run. A number of waterfalls may be viewed along this trail. Big oaks, maples, and hop-hornbeams abound. An out-and-back trail of 4.6 miles leads to the park’s second tallest waterfall at 86 feet; visitors can also choose to extend their trip by 2.7 miles roundtrip and an elevation change of 1,100 feet to the lower waterfalls.
The Old-Growth Forest Network is the first national organization working specifically to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In counties capable of supporting forest growth, the group identifies at least one forest that will be forever protected from logging and open to the public and helps families connect with those forests. The result will be a national network of treasured forests where all generations can experience native biodiversity and the beauty of nature.
For more information about the Old Growth Forest Network, visit its website.