Augusta Free Press

Shenandoah National Park reopens comment period for chronic wasting disease management plan

In response to a request from several park neighbors, Shenandoah National Park will hold an additional public meeting on the park’s proposed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) response plan.

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 22, 2015, at the Warren County Community Center, 538 Villa Avenue. Dr. Jenny Powers, National Park Service Wildlife Veterinarian and CWD expert, will make a presentation on the history and biology of the disease. Jim Schaberl, Shenandoah National Park Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources, will present the park’s proposed plan. Park Superintendent Jim Northup will be available to answer questions. Experts from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will also be available to answer questions on CWD actions outside the park. Following the meeting, the park will reopen the comment period for eight days.

Shenandoah National Park management is proposing to amend the approved 2013Chronic Wasting Disease Detection/Assessment Plan, Shenandoah National Park to include response actions necessary to address chronic wasting disease (CWD) within five miles of or within the park. Although CWD has not been detected in the park, it has been documented approximately 12 miles from the park’s northern boundary. The spread of the disease into the park appears imminent, and park staff has determined that a plan for managing the disease is needed. CWD is a serious, non-native disease which threatens deer populations, related natural resources, and visitor experiences at Shenandoah National Park. The proposed plan amendment calls for the lethal removal of deer within specific developed areas of Shenandoah National Park to reduce the likelihood of CWD establishment and decrease the disease’s progression within the park.

The draft amendment/EA for this project has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). A series of public meetings on this topic were held in November, and the public was given an opportunity to comment during a 30-day comment period which ended on December 10, 2014. With the addition of another meeting the public will now be able to comment again on the draft plan from January 22 until January 30, 2015. The draft plan is available for review and comment online at http:parkplanning.nps.gov/shencwd. Comments may also be sent to: Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Attn: CWD Response Amendment/EA, 3655 US Highway, 211 East, Luray, VA 22835.