March 5th, 2007 05:38 EST
Chronic Wasting Disease Plan Under Development
The National Park Service is developing a plan and environmental assessment to respond to the potential threat of chronic wasting disease (CWD) to white-tailed deer. The purpose of the plan is to develop a range of strategies for the detection of and initial response to chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer in Shenandoah, since the disease has been detected near the park and may threaten park resources (CWD has not been detected in Shenandoah National Park or in Virginia, but has appeared in West Virginia within a 60 mile radius of several national parks). The plan will also serve as a template environmental planning document for other National Park Service units in the eastern United States.
CWD is in the family of diseases known as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. It is a self-propagating neurological disease that affects captive and free-ranging deer, causing brain lesions that result in progressive weight loss, behavioral changes, and eventually death in affected animals. There is currently no evidence that the disease is transmissible to humans or domestic livestock.
Presenting at the meeting will be the park superintendent and personnel from the NPS Environmental Quality and Biological Resource Management Divisions. After the presentations, the open house format will include a series of stations and posters for the public to view and read more about the planning process and chronic wasting disease. The public will be provided the opportunity to submit comments and ask questions. In addition to National Park Service personnel, a representative of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be participating in the open house to provide information on the state of Virginia’s chronic wasting disease response plan.
Scoping is the first step in involving the public in the compliance process. Scoping includes holding meetings and providing opportunities for the public to comment, so that concerns are identified early and the analysis focuses on important issues.
Two public meetings, identical in format, will be held to introduce the public to this planning process and provide a forum for receiving public input. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 28th, at Spotswood High School, 368 Blazer Drive, Penn Laird, Virginia; the second meeting will be held on Thursday, March 29th at the Madison County Fire Station, 1223 North Main Street, Madison, Virginia. Both meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m and end at 9:00 p.m.
Public comment will be accepted at either of the public scoping meetings or electronically at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/shen. Comments will be accepted until April 27th. Additional information about the park can be found at www.nps.gov/shen .
Name: Karen Beck-Herzog, Public Affairs Officer