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As the summer is heating up, algae is again being observed along the North Fork. On 7/29/22, a five mile stretch of the North Fork, 2.5 miles up and downstream of Deer Rapids boat launch was placed under a Benthic Algae Alert by the Virginia Department of Health.  On 8/5/22, the alert area was expanded to the confluence of the North Fork with Cedar Creek, west of Strasburg.  Look for regular updates on our social media and website as we watch for updates from VDH as the season progresses. 

If you see an algal mat, do not enter the river and keep your pets away.  Not all mats are toxic, but when in doubt, stay out!  Algal mats are especially prone to releasing toxins as they wash up on shore and begin to die.  Be especially vigilant in keeping your children and pets away from these mats.  

As we enter another summer, you can help Friends keep an eye on this problem by emailing us a photo of the river around where you live or like to recreate to  We are also looking for folks to document local sites weekly to track the progression of blooms.   Please include the location of your photo (latitude and longitude are especially helpful, but not totally necessary), include a close-up of a mat as well as a photo showing the density of mats in your area, and any other observations you have, i.e. wildlife, fish, odor, litter, river flow, etc.  If you are able to send a weekly photograph to monitor your spot until the fall, your observations can help VDH to know when further water testing may be needed.

Check out the map below for photos collected from around the North Fork in the summer of 2022. Click on the icon in the upper left corner to expand the map’s legend.

Check out the map below for photos collected from around the North Fork in the summer of 2021.  

We share a digest of these collected reports with VDH, DEQ, and the Shenandoah Riverkeeper to aid in their efforts to test for harmful algae, keep the public informed, and combat the source of algal blooms. Friends will not share your name or any personal information in connection with any photos you submit, unless you note that you would like to be credited.