Meet Our March Stakeholder Spotlight
New River State Park Superintendent Joe Shimel

It is hard to imagine a world where a partnership between the New River Conservancy and New River State Park does not exist. As March’s Stakeholder Spotlight Joe Shimel puts it, “The relationship is just natural”.
Keep reading to learn more about Joe's Story with the old New

The New River State Park and NRC both find their origins around 1962, as a result of the fight to prevent the construction of two dams on the New River that would have flooded 42,000 acres across Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Since then, NRC and New River State Park have worked closely together to protect the old New. Joe, originally from Wilson, North Carolina, spent most of his childhood summers at summer camps at the William B. Umstead State Park in Durham - arguably where his passion for protecting the environment began. Years later, Joe went on to pursue his passion, receiving a BS and eventually MA in Parks and Recreation Management from North Carolina State University, marking the beginning of his journey to the New. After graduating Joe worked as a Park Ranger at Falls Lake State Park in Durham in 2000, before heading to the coast of North Carolina as a Park Ranger at Carolina Beach State Park in 2003, and he eventually became Superintendent of Meadock Mountain State Park in Halifax County, in 2007.

Our story with Joe begins in 2009, when he came on as Superintendent of the New River State Park.

Since our partnership with Joe began, we’ve been able to add major parcels of land to the park’s property nearly every year. One of this partnerships shining moments occurred on December 17, 2018 with the purchase of Elk Shoals, an Ashe County icon. While NRC helped to raise the funds for the purchase, Joe and the New River State Park staff will continue to manage the property, as the addition of the property to the park ensures it is permanently protected. Joe may not be a native to the New River community but he’s known all along how special the area is - Elk Shoals in particular. When Joe first came to New River State Park, the Elk Shoals Methodist Camp was still in full swing, and like the rest of the community Joe witnessed the camp begin to struggle financially. When approached about adding the property to the park - it was a no brainer for Joe. While "Saving Elk Shoals" was undoubtely a major achievement for NRC, New River State Park and the surrounding community, this achievement also reflects Joe’s determination to preserve the waters, woodlands, and wildlife of the New River Watershed.

Thank you Joe, for all that you do to protect the New!

Meet our February Stakeholder Spotlight
Harry Corepening

February's Stakeholder Spotlight is an old friend of New River Conservancy,
Harry Corpening. Harry played a crucial role in saving Elk Shoals, is actively working to fight a proposed asphalt plant, and particpates in NRC's New River Water Watchers Program. Keep reading to learn more about Harry's story with the New River Conservancy.

Elk Shoals United Methodist Camp, located on the bank of the south fork of the New River in Ashe County, holds a special place in the hearts of many. This is particularly true for Harry Corpening of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Harry spent his childhood summers at a summer cabin on the New River just three miles from Camp Elk Shoals. Harry's history with the New River goes back to when he was just six years old, but his story with Elk Shoals really starts when he was invited to join the Board of Trustees for Camp Elk Shoals about 15 years ago. At the time Harry had not visited the camp despite his family's cabin being only three miles down river. However, he quickly fell in love with it and came up with the camp’s nickname “God’s Country". Harry even went on to create the famous sign that was once at the entrance of the camp reading "Welcome to Camp Elk Shoals 'God's Country'". Historically, Camp Elk Shoals provided a place for faith-directed recreation. While it was traditionally a Methodist camp, Harry wanted to make sure everyone felt welcomed and increase the number of people using the Camp. Harry then helped change signage of the Camp from saying “Elk Shoals United Methodist Camp” to “Camp Elk Shoals – NATURAL FUN.” Later on, when the camp could no longer financially provide for all of its expenses, the Conference made the difficult decision to sell the Camp. Because of his knowledge of the history behind each of the Camp’s facilities, Harry was able to save the Conference money and time by informing them which of the existing facilities could be brought up to the existing codes. This “theme” of preserving only the most viable buildings and returning the land to its natural state has remained a top priority for not only Harry, but the New River Conservancy as well. Over the last several years Harry has also been actively working to prevent an asphalt plant in Glendale Springs from opening near the New River. This proposed plant would be located at an existing rock quarry which is only a couple of hundred yards away from the river. Harry also participates in New River Conservancy's New River Water Watchers program, monitoring a creek that flows through the quarry into the New River.
Thank you Harry, for all that you do to protect the New!

Click HERE to get involved with or learn more about our Water Quality Monitoring program.

Click HERE for a project summary of Elk Shoals and updates on our efforts to Rewild Elk Shoals.