Name change reflects expansion of W.Va. wildflower event

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Name change reflects expansion of W.Va. wildflower event
Blue phlox blossom in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. (Photo courtesy Jodi French-Burr)

Officials with the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve say the expansion of the park's annual wildflower event from one weekend to two months and from one park to many called for a name change.

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Formerly known as the "New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend," the regional celebration of ecology in southern West Virginia has been renamed the "Spring Nature Fling," according to Jodi French-Burr, a ranger with the National Park Service.

"The event has grown to last through April and May," French-Burr said, "and it now includes venues across southern West Virginia—not just in the national park—so we felt it was time for a change."

The Spring Nature Fling includes multiple events that highlight the wonders of nature in central Appalachia and includes guided hikes with rangers and naturalists as well as exhibits and educational programs scheduled in the national park, at the Tamarack cultural center, and at five state parks in the region.

Social distancing and current health protocols will be practiced during all event activities. Many activities do require reservations and have a limit on participation.

This event schedule is available at Spring Nature Fling, but be sure to check for updates to this listing for additional programs. All programs are free unless noted, French-Burr said.

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Th 2021 celebration also includes citizen-scientist elements, where anyone can contribute their nature observations. Participants may use the free I-Naturalist app from a smart device to document and share news of the natural world.

Participants should bring water and wear sturdy walking shoes for hikes. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tools like binoculars, a hand lens, a camera, field guides, and smart devices pre-loaded with nature apps are suggested but not required.

"Follow and post photos at #SpringNatureFling to join in this springtime fun," she said.

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