RALEIGH – DuPont State Recreational Forest will be closing several trails at the High Falls Access Area to prevent further impacts to blue ghost firefly populations. The closures will take place at night from mid-May through early June.
The temporary trail closures are in response to an overwhelming number of visitors during the 2015 blue ghost season, typically a three-week period in late spring. Forest officials observed a high level of habitat disturbance and disruption by the large nighttime crowds, which could have long-term impacts on local populations of fireflies. Forest officials ask that the public observe trail closure signs and stay out of closed areas.
“Our mission is to protect all forest resources, including the blue ghost habitat, so that everyone can continue to enjoy and benefit from these unique insects,” said Jason Guidry, forest supervisor. “The blue ghost fireflies are known to exist across the southern Appalachians. However, DuPont State Recreational Forest has become synonymous with the firefly through social media and news articles in recent years.”
Other public lands in neighboring counties are likely to offer nighttime viewing opportunities for the blue ghost firefly without the crowding, Guidry said.
The Friends of DuPont Forest supports the trail closures and has suspended its annual guided tours of the insects.
“The FODF’s mission is to enhance the enjoyment of all that the forest has to offer while protecting its natural resources,” said Bev Parlier, the group’s president. “To support the N.C. Forest Service, the FODF has decided to temporarily suspend our guided tours of the blue ghost fireflies.”
Information about the trail closures can be found at forest kiosks, at the DuPont State Recreational Forest Visitor Center and on the forest’s website, http://ncforestservice.gov/Contacts/dsf.htm.