Shenandoah National Park (SNP) recently celebrated the addition of 1,000 acres of land. The land was bought from three families by the Shenandoah National Park Trust and then donated to the park. This is one of the largest expansions to the park in recent history.
“The primary purpose was conservation, Naked Creek flows through these lands, it’s a tributary of the Shenandoah River, so the ability to protect these lands, to protect the watershed for the long term was the primary goal,” said SNP Superintendent Pat Kenney.
“The conservation mission is critical here and this area is ecologically important as watershed protection. So it adds to our overall land base here that will be really be important in the whole corridor of this park,” said Lauren Imgrund, Associate Director of Partnership and Civic Engagement for the National Park Service.
“We’ll be managing invasive species and things like that, providing wildlife habitat. The lands will be open to the public as part of the National Park but at this time we don’t have any plans for developing trails,” said Pat Kenney.
When Ted Graves, the owner of the Luray Caverns, purchased 1,500 acres along Tanner’s Ridge more than half a century ago, he meant to turn it into a ski resort. However, in the end his family just farmed the land for several decades. Now, more than 847 acres of that lot have become part of Shenandoah.
“My father… was a man of great wisdom,” Rod Graves said as his brother John stood by his side. “Although he was known as a businessman, he was also a great conservationist… later on, dad always hoped [this land] would become part of Shenandoah National Park. God created a special place here… It will always be a part of our family, and those who preceded us. Our family’s wish and our father’s dream have been fulfilled. What a victory for preservation… this is a haven now to be shared by all.”
The land was bought with funds from a 2016 multi-million-dollar settlement with Dupont. DuPont was sued over dumping mercury into the Shenandoah River around 70 years ago. The settlement has to be spent on “land protection, property acquisition, and recreational and wildlife enhancements [to include] riparian habitat along the South River or South Fork [of the] Shenandoah River.”
The Dean and Bradford families also had land included in the new lot. At a ceremony dedicating the new land, the families shared personal stories about the land, talking about cattle farming, mushrooming, campfires and more. While people have lived on the land, it’s not a case of “paved paradise.” The newly acquired land is filled with waterfalls, gorgeous views of the Shenandoah Valley and tons of wildlife.
So, head to Shenandoah soon to see the new parcel of land yourself!