Saved by a Salamander Day 2024


When the American Electric Power Company planned to dam the New River in the 1970's, the project was halted thanks to a surprising ally: the hellbender salamander. James Watson, our team member and an amateur herpetologist, found this story intriguing and decided to learn more.

The hellbender, also known as the “snot otter” or “devil-dog,” is the largest amphibian in the U.S., measuring up to 29 inches long. These creatures are rarely seen, as they are scattered throughout the Appalachian Mountain Range and thrive in pristine environments.

The fight to protect Grassy Creek was long and tough. The turning point came in 1968 when Congress established the National Wild and Scenic River System. To be included, rivers must meet specific ecological and historical criteria. By 1976, the New River earned its place on this list, stopping the dam project in its tracks.

The hellbender has become a powerful symbol of our region's rich history and the unique heritage we share. It's a testament to the importance of conservation and the enduring connection between the land and its people.

Saved by a Salamander Day

Fast forward to today, The Old Store is thrilled to partner with the New River Conservancy to celebrate Grassy Creek's conservation success story with the annual 'Saved by a Salamander Day'.

This year, the event will take place on May 18th, 2024, at The Old Store in Grassy Creek. It’s a day filled with fun, learning, and community spirit, bringing people together to honor the past and look toward a sustainable future.

Here's what you can expect at this year's Saved by a Salamander event:

  • Live Music and Food: Music and Bier Garden will begin at 5:30 p.m. The Jeff Little Trio, featuring award-winning musician Jeff Little, will perform, adding a lively musical backdrop to the event. Boondocks food truck will be onsite to satisfy your appetite. The Frosty Monkey will be offering hand-dipped ice cream and shaved ice!

  • Educational Activities: The day will feature workshops and talks on river conservation and history.

    - 1:00 p.m. Foggy Mountain Nursery will discuss water health, riparian buffers, and river building.
    - 2:00 p.m. Kelly McCoy from Rivergirl will introduce you to the fascinating world of the hellbender.
    - 3:00 p.m.Dr. Shea Tuberty will lead a session on critter counting, focusing on the biodiversity of the New River.
    - 4:00 p.m. Janet & Hardin Halsey recount the historic fight to save the New River.

  • Fun for the Family: Alongside the educational activities, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family. Kids can enjoy pet rock painting, and there will be various booths with engaging activities. You can also browse through a table of memorabilia, offering a glimpse into the area's rich history.

Join the Celebration

Whether you're a local or visiting, Saved by a Salamander Day is a fantastic opportunity to learn about conservation, celebrate community, and enjoy a day of entertainment. It's a reminder of the incredible impact that a small creature and a dedicated community can have on preserving our natural environment. We hope to see you there!

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