Too Hot

The last two days have seen record-breaking hot temperatures across the Eastern United States, including in Southwest Virginia.  Yesterday it was 103 in Kingsport and 101 in Bristol, breaking the record high temperature ever recorded in the month of June in our region.  Abingdon was 100, the highest temperature here in any month in 25 years.

Tree with Hoarfrost
Whitetop Mountain, February 2010

It’s way too hot, especially for those of us in the mountains.  I’m pining for cooler weather−way cooler weather.  Along those lines, the B&W photo I took above shows massive hoarfrost on one of the solitary trees up on Whitetop in 2010, the last real winter we have had in Southwest Virginia. 

Just looking at that photo cools you off a little bit, doesn’t it?  Wish I was high up on a mountain with snow right now.

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Elk in Southwest Virginia

Last month the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) released the first elk in Buchanan County, Virginia. The intial planned elk management area will include Dickenson and Wise counties. 

Soon a common sight in Southwest Virginia? Elk in neighboring Kentucky.
(photo under a creative commons license from animaltourism.com)

This followed an extensive study of the feasibility and impact of elk reintroduction in the Commonwealth.  Elk have successfully been reintroduced into neighbooring areas of Kentucky, which now has the largest elk herd (of approximately 10,000 animals) west of the Mississippi.  They have also been reintroduced on a more modest scale into the Cataloochee area of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Elk were extirpated from our area of Southwest Virginia in the mid-1850s. 

The reintroduction of elk in Southwestern Virginia has been somewhat controversial.  Some citizens have opposed it asserting that it would have a negative effect on livestock and farming due to grazing and possible communication of diseases.  The animals are obviously much larger than deer and would likely cause more damage if struck by a motor vehicle.  VDGIF’s own position on elk has evolved, as the agency was originally less supportive of reintroduction to elk than it currently is. 

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation “Virginia Confirms Elk Restoration” Webpage

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation conducted the first feasibility study and has been the major non-profit organization funding the project, contributing over $300,000 according to its press release earlier this year.  The RMEF now has a Southwest Virginia Coalfields Chapter devoted to the cause. Certainly, the reintroduction of an extirpated species of such magnificence is exciting for outdoorsmen in our area.

Below is the film footage of the first elk release in May by VDGIF: