It’s the middle of winter and Rappahannock County has all but dried up.
The Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force has just issued not one, not two, but three separate “emergencies” — precipitation, streamflow, and groundwater levels — for Rappahannock, which surpass the severity of previously issued watches and warnings.
So how bad is it?
Take the groundwater level: an emergency classification means that Rappahannock’s measured groundwater is “below the 5th percentile for all historic levels.”
It’s so dry in Shenandoah National Park, where there is virtually zero snowpack to speak of, the park service has issued a “Very High/Extreme Fire Danger” alert.
Much needed rain is in the forecast to round out the week.
Congratulations to our neighbor Front Royal, which has landed the largest — $700,000 — of all the Community Development Block Grants awarded this week by outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The $700,000 grant will go towards the revitalization of the Front Royal business district.
Lift to C’ville
The Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission has re-launched the Foothills Express Shuttle Service, providing a handicapped accessible shuttle bus that connects Culpeper and Madison to destinations in Charlottesville. The shuttle enables citizens to access UVA, Martha Jefferson and other medical specialists and treatments not available locally.
The Express will be expanding to three round trips per day three days per week — making it available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Fares will be $3 each way with a discounted rate of $2 each way for those 65 and over or disabled. There is no charge for children or medical escorts.
Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance by calling 540-825-2456 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The Foothills Express shuttle bus stops are located at the Emergency Entrance at Culpeper/UVA hospital and at the Madison Food Lion. The Culpeper/UVA hospital bus stop can be accessed by both the Orange-Culpeper Connector and the Culpeper Trolley.
While the primary focus is for medical transportation, the service is available to all citizens.
Rapp beach plants
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is asking the public to nominate species of invasive plants that could be added to the current list of Virginia Noxious Weeds (any plant species that is detrimental to crops, surface waters, desirable plants, livestock, land or other property, or injurious to public health, the environment or the economy).
This newspaper knows of an entire hillside near Woodville that has so many invasive Chinese Ornamental Silvergrass beach plants — planted by a previous homeowner a decade ago and now sprouting up everywhere — that it resembles a beachfront lot in Nags Head.
The agency has developed a science-based assessment tool, which the public can access at vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-noxious-weeds.shtml, for the nomination, evaluation and consideration of plants considered noxious weeds.
The department’s Noxious Weeds Advisory Committee will evaluate all suspected weed species submitted in the coming weeks.