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Green to Gold: a documentary series on Shenandoah National Park

For the last four months, marketing professional Kevin Morgan has spent his weekends hiking with his wife, baby daughter and dog.

“Hey guys, it is Kevin and Tobey and Lucy, and Addison is back there. We’re continuing our series on the various trails within the national park here in Northern Virginia,” he says, narrating one of his many hikes.

National Park Service
Green to Gold will showcase the park's history, natural beauty and surprising features.

He’s such a fan of the place that he brings his camera and is making a six-part series about it.

At Shenandoah National Park Trust, Director Jessica Coccolone, says the videos will cover much more than the story of people displaced when the land was taken by the federal government.

“We want to also talk about the broader history of the park. You know native Americans have lived on that land for 12,000 years. There’s this long history of African-Americans use of the park. This was one of the first national parks to desegregate.”

Coccolone says the documentary is likely to surprise viewers. If they want to see bears, for example, they may want to look up.

“I didn’t realize that our bears sleep in the trees.”

And despite this summer’s dry conditions, they could see waterfalls. Cocollone did when she took a friend on a tour.

“She lives here in Charlottesville, and I took her up to the Dooley Falls, and she was shocked. People are often surprised that we have a plethora of waterfalls right in our backyard.”

In addition to its beauty, the series is likely to highlight the challenges the park faces – like Asian bittersweet, a non-native plant that’s taking over.

“We have about 5,000 acres of the park that are covered in bittersweet right now, and in 10 years they think about 40,000 of it will be covered.”

And the stories will be told by people who know the park in many ways – like this woman whose dad was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps – developing the park. Today, she looks to the future:

“This is precious. Don’t take it for granted," she says. "Don’t trash it. Take care of it for somebody else to enjoy.”

Coccolone hopes parts of the production will be ready to show when the park trust sponsors its annual Banff Mountain Film Festival in March.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief