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Respect: Be safe, smart in enjoying nature

Be safe, smart in enjoying nature

It is mind boggling to realize this sort of thing needs to be asked, but officials with New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in southern West Virginia have had to put out a public service announcement that states: “Do not throw rocks from cliffs, it could kill climbers and hikers below.”

It seems enough people were throwing rocks from the cliffs at Diamond Point on the Endless Wall trail in the park that climbers reported the incidents. They said multiple people threw large rocks that could easily have hit climbers coming up the face of the cliff, or hikers down in the gorge. According to one climber, a rock missed a climber by only a couple of feet, and the size of the rock thrown would likely have made it fatal.

Of course, there are already signs up asking those on the Endless Wall and other trails to behave like decent human beings and not throw rocks. But officials believed a social media post was in order. Not only could throwing rocks be deadly, it is also hazardous to the ecosystem, as park officials reminded “removing rocks also damages the park’s natural resources by taking a non-renewable resource and removing it from where it was naturally found.”

Further, the park had to again remind visitors “it is more important than ever to practice established Leave No Trace principles and follow outdoor etiquette by being aware of your surroundings, considerate of other park users, and leaving all park resources as you find them.”

Mid-Ohio Valley residents will remember the case of Victoria Schafer, who was killed while hiking in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park after some teenagers pushed a log off a cliff. Schafer’s family could tell the rock-throwers at New River Gorge those signs are no joke.

It is a shame there are so many people who need to hear it.

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