Forest Rangers tackle the conundrum of protecting loved-to-death wilderness

Were you to hike nearly nine miles into a wilderness area, paralleling a creek through alpine meadows and woods, you might expect to find solitude. But that’s not the case at Conundrum Hot Springs, an extremely popular area of natural pools at an elevation of over 11,000 feet with views of surrounding peaks in White River National Forest, Colorado. Dozens — and on busy...

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Collecting Climate Change Data in the Field

Since 1957, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) has been at the forefront of preserving our national parks and forests, with the knowledge that these natural “lungs” act as a critical cooling and cleaning mechanism for our planet, pulling carbon dioxide from the air while releasing oxygen. But in recent years, SCA has expanded beyond preservation work, partnering...

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Friends of the Smokies Turns 25 with $2.5 Million Emergency Radio Upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary next year, Friends of the Smokies is delighted to announce a milestone capital campaign to fund a critical radio system upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The total cost of the radio system upgrade is $2.5 million. “Our target for this campaign is to raise $1.25 million by this time next year,...

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Nine Easy Tips to Stay Safe While Hiking

For every trip into nature, you need to be prepared. Whether it is a one-mile hike with the family or a solo trip where you cover more than 20 miles in a day, being prepared is the difference between a great day and a really bad one. Experienced hikers will say to always bring the 10 essentials, and for long treks you should do this. However, for extremely short day...

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Living with Lynx in Scotland

Many generations have passed since the shy, beautiful, and charismatic lynx roamed the wild forests of Scotland. Today, the possibility of reintroducing this native predator is a tantalizing prospect for some but for others, represents an unwelcome imposition. Until just a few years ago, the lynx or lugh, as it was known in Scottish Gaelic, was virtually unknown as a...

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Scott Pruitt is dismantling EPA in secret for the same reason the GOP health care bill was secret

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a propensity to operate in secret. The approach of serving industry under cover of secrecy is not idiosyncratic to Pruitt, nor is it distinctively Trumpian. Rather, it is the standard approach of today’s GOP, as reflected in such recent initiatives as the failed health care bill. It is, in fact, the only approach possible to advance an...

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Jennifer Pharr Davis hits the trail

Jennifer Pharr Davis and her whole crew – husband Brew, daughter Charley, and son Gus – are starting the first steps down Clingmans Dome to begin an epic three-month journey across NC on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail today. The whole family will hike 4 miles, likely with a few M&Ms dispensed to nudge the children along (well, and maybe the grown-ups, too)....

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Fleeing to the Mountains

In contrast to many advanced countries, the United States has a vast and spectacular publicly owned wilderness, mostly free and available to all. In an age of inequality, the affluent have gated neighborhoods, private schools, backup generators and greater influence on elected officials. But our most awe-inspiring wild places have remained largely a public good to be...

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National parks brace for eclipse crowds

The U.S. National Park Service is gearing up for some historically large crowds August 21, 2017 when a total solar eclipse will occur over a swath across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina, crossing over 21 national park units and seven trails. If you haven’t planned ahead, be aware that lodging and camping is full around most of the parks, the NPS site warns, and...

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National Parks Are Great Classrooms

This summer, millions of visitors will descend on America’s National Parks. National Parks attract visitors of all ages from countries across the globe, but many of this summer’s visitors will be children and their families on summer vacation. And that’s a valuable learning opportunity for both those children and their families. America’s 59...

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Leader of the pack: Former attorney creates doggy hiking club

Russ Smith and his canine friends just want to haven fun! Six mornings a week, the Tiverton, Rhode Island entrepreneur and several dogs of various shapes, sizes and ages, pile into a large van to enjoy a three-hour-long outdoor trek in the country to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and what the critters do best – play and have a lot of fun. “I pick them up – door to door...

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Arizona Trail to get new management plan

The 800-mile-long Arizona Trail that spans the length of the state is getting a new level of management. It will come in the form of a comprehensive plan aimed at better protecting and preserving the trail’s resources, whether they are located on federal, state, county, municipal or private land. Federal agencies released an initial draft of the plan earlier this month...

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Bear country hiking tips from a big game biologist

Hikers in many parts of the West, especially northwest Wyoming, are in carnivore country and should think ahead to what they would do in a close encounter with a bear, wolf or mountain lion, says a wildlife biologist. Annemarie Prince, a hiker as well as a biologist who works with big game and carnivores for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department recently offered...

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New Science Education Program Brings Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Classrooms

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont have been selected to participate in a new science education program, Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks. Made possible thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, this new program...

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6 ways to get the best workout of your life while hiking

Modern workout machines, like treadmills, offer flat and predictable workout surfaces. Although you can adjust the incline slightly, it does not offer a consistent challenge. In fact, most people fail to see expected results after months of using their treadmill. Hiking engages the entire body as it requires the use of hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, abdominals, calves,...

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Great Plains Trail could put western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in national spotlight

Walking from Texas to Canada might be a bigger hike than you ever imagined. In 2016, as an energetic 25-year-old, Luke “Strider” Jordan entered Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, taking his first step on a 2,100-mile journey that ended three months later in the North Dakota ghost town of Northgate, near Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. He was the first...

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The real fire and fury is in Greenland right now

Thousands of acres of permafrost are burning in what appears to be Greenland’s biggest fire on record. And climate scientists are freaking out not just because the massive fires are unusual, but because they release large amounts of greenhouse gases and speed up the melt of the ice sheet and the carbon-rich permafrost. Greenland is almost entirely covered in an enormous...

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Trekking Through the Rocky Mountains of Iceland

In Iceland’s central highlands the landscapes are often bare, with little more than rocks, snow and distant mountains. Small alpine flowering plants that manage to survive in these harsh surroundings offer a tiny splash of color. It is an area where few people live and that, for most of the year, is closed to vehicles because it would be impossible for them to get...

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Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is the most visited region in the state, and the reasons are legion. Tempestuous spring and winter months are perfect for watching waves and weather churn together over dramatic cliffs and headlands; summer and fall can bring mild temperatures that are ideal for beach exploration and a terrific relief from scorching inland weather. Protected lands such...

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A new study finds 6.5% of global GDP goes to subsidizing dirty fossil fuels

Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences. Second, fossil...

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The Appalachian Trail turns 80

There’s something about the Appalachian Trail – or, A.T., as it’s affectionally known by enthusiasts – that draws people to it, from day-hikers, to section-hikers who spend days, weeks, or even months traversing its sections’ ups and downs, to “thru-hikers” who hike the entire trail, from start to finish. “The A.T. is a place that balances me; it grounds me,”...

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Hiking Project app/website helps you head for the hills

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the swelter of the city and head for the hills. A shady hike beside a cool mountain stream beats a steamy stroll down the city streets any day. If you don’t know any good hiking trails or are just bored of your usual ones, Hiking Project is a useful app (for iOS and Android) and website that can make suggestions where to go. Best of all,...

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When and where to spot the best Autumn scenery in our national parks

Fall color isn’t always where you expect to find it. Quick story: The assignment, years ago, was to do a story on fall color at Yosemite National Park. Got there, and everything Yosemite was supposed to have was present that day in mid-October: Half Dome, El Capitan, waterfalls, all of it. And from Glacier Point, one of the world’s great overlooks and the...

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Hiking a 110-Mile Jungle Trail — Entirely Within Rio

Brazil’s longest hiking trail is 110 miles through Atlantic rainforest along the coast, stopping off at white sand beaches, waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints, where monkeys, toucans and parrots abound. Where is this tropical hiker’s paradise? It’s 100 percent within Rio de Janeiro city limits — a metropolis with more than 7 million people. The newly inaugurated...

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Here are the most effective stretches to prepare you for the hiking trail

Even what seems like the most benign hiking trail can result in a twisted ankle, pulled muscle, or worse if you don’t prepare properly. The most effective method of readying your body for the rigors of the trail is consistent stretching. It is important to stretch all of the main muscle groups used in hiking, but also pay attention to your particular needs, and...

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Largest dead zone ever hits the Gulf of Mexico

Scientists have measured a dead zone the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest-ever dead zone recorded in the area, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. A dead zone occurs when nutrient pollution — largely from agricultural runoff like fertilizer and manure — makes its way into bodies of water, fueling algal growth....

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McCullough Gulch Trail, White River National Forest

This trail follows the McCullough Creek drainage up the gulch beneath the massive summit of 14,225′ Quandary Peak. It starts on an old mining road south of Breckenridge, CO, then changes to single track trail as it climbs the gulch. You’ll pass through pine and fir forest, get splashed by White Falls, marvel at the colorful granite, and count the variety of...

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SAHC Protects 310 Acres in Weaverville, NC Watershed

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently worked with the Town of Weaverville, NC to place a conservation easement on 310 acres of the Weaverville Watershed. The easement protects important headwaters of Reems Creek as well as forested habitat and scenic views from Reems Creek Valley. “This property provided drinking water to the Town of Weaverville for 80...

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Taking the Measure of Solitude in the Wilderness

People are drawn to wilderness areas for many reasons, hiking, bird watching, or camping, but another attraction is solitude. If you’re hiking in southwest Virginia’s Mountain Lake Robbie Harris you may meet a ranger who is actually measuring the amount of solitude out there. David Seisel, who goes by the name ‘Skip’ is a ranger on the eastern divide ranger...

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Fuel the Outdoors Dehydrated Meals and Snacks

Pennsylvania is home for a couple who recently started a home-based business to combine two of their passions: hiking and cooking. They make dehydrated meals and snacks. While this is not a novel concept – theirs are made really fresh just like you would at home, with some ingredients right from their own garden and others sourced locally. After all, why...

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