Great Smoky Mountains Association Commits to Funding Park Visitor Centers During Government Shutdown

During the extended government shutdown in October 2013, the public’s access to Great Smoky Mountains National Park was nearly non-existent. This time, however, if a government shutdown goes into effect at midnight on December 21, Great Smoky Mountains Association is committed to creating a different reality for park visitors during the upcoming holiday week. “We know...

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Crews make improvements to section of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

Just in time for your New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside, a section of Tennessee’s Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail in Williamson and Maury counties has received some needed restoration. Twenty-five miles of the Highland Rim section of the trail, roughly from mile marker 405 to mile marker 430, just north of Garrison Creek, were improved by...

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December Walking on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

The Blue Ridge Parkway frequently closes for snow and ice in late Fall and Winter. While it’s disappointing you can’t traverse the roadway by vehicle, the fun news is that you can still access your favorite overlooks on foot, without any traffic. It is so peaceful. Most access roads to the Parkway are maintained during snow season, so you can get to the...

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How Native American tribes are bringing back the bison from brink of extinction

On 5,000 hectares of unplowed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North...

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Hikers, bikers, riders, get good news for Santa Susana Mountains trail network

Another step in a plan to add miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails throughout the Santa Susana Mountains in unincorporated northwest Los Angeles County has moved forward after years in the works. Phase II of the Santa Susana Mountains Trails Master Plan was unanimously approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. It adds 58 miles of trails to the...

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The Future of Forests & Water in the NC Piedmont

We’re all downstream from something. A new modeling study by the U.S. Forest Service shows that forests make very good upstream neighbors. The research focuses on the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Basin in central North Carolina. Senior research ecologists have been studying this area because of its projected rapid population growth and forest loss. Its urban area is likely to...

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Quoting ‘The Lorax,’ court tosses permit for pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

  A permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, was thrown out Thursday by a federal appeals court that harshly criticized regulators for approving the proposal. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond blasted the U.S. Forest Service for granting a special-use...

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Hiking Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia’s ‘Little Grand Canyon’

Reminiscent of a southwestern US landscape, Providence Canyon State Park’s colorful, sculpted canyon walls carve deep through a sandy, stream-filled landscape near Columbus, Georgia. Soft-bedded, sandy hiking trails wind and weave through vibrantly-colored carved canyons, exploring an ever-evolving landscape of loose sandstone and trickling water. The park’s unusually...

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Just-passed Farm Bill includes protection for 20,000 acres of Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest

Tucked inside the 800-page, $800 million-plus Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, known as the Farm Bill, is a smaller piece of legislation dedicated to the continued conservation of thousands of acres of forested land in Tennessee. The Tennessee Wilderness Act will designate the highest level of protection for 20,000 acres in the Cherokee National Forest. With the...

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How Stone Stacking Wreaks Havoc on National Parks

The stacks look like small shrines to mountain solitude, carefully balanced at the edge of a precipice. But when Zion National Park posted the photo, in September, the social-media coördinators for the park included a plea: “Please, enjoy the park but leave rocks and all natural objects in place.” The post noted the “curious but destructive practice” of building small...

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How the U.S. Forest Service Grows Millions of Seedlings Each Year

Tucked into the Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forests of Northern Idaho sits the quaint lakeside town of Coeur d’Alene. The former lumber town is now a popular tourist destination drawing families from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Gone are the pounding mills, replaced with fancy lakefront hotels and bustling shopping centers. But it’s not hard to find relics...

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Vanishing Nutrients. It’s a hazard of climate change you probably haven’t heard of.

  Is it possible to starve yourself of nutrients while simultaneously gaining weight? It turns out the answer is yes. According to a growing body of research, rising carbon dioxide levels are making our food less nutritious, robbing key crops of vitamins essential to human development. Studies have shown that crops as varied as wheat, maize, soybeans and field...

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The Arctic Ocean has lost 95 percent of its oldest ice — a startling sign of what’s to come

Over the past three decades of global warming, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by a stunning 95 percent, according the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Arctic Report Card. The finding suggests that the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for...

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It’s Nearly Time for First Day Hikes Once Again

What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start burning off those extra holiday calories in the great outdoors? On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with...

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On 50th anniversary of Pacific Crest Trail, volunteers have opportunity to make their mark

For the last 50 years, the Pacific Crest Trail has been a testament to the natural beauty of the western United States. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the trail, the Bakersfield, CA office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will host a friendly “work weekend” at a portion of the trail near Ridgecrest to allow the public to help maintain the path in that area....

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Virginia files lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline

The company building a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia violated environmental regulations more than 300 times, a lawsuit filed by Virginia’s top lawyer alleges. Mountain Valley Pipeline is facing “the maximum allowable civil penalties and a court order to force MVP to comply with environmental laws and regulations,” according to a statement from Attorney...

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Popular Lost Valley hiking area near Buffalo River closing for major makeover

One of the Buffalo National River’s most popular hiking destinations will be closed for 10 weeks for a major makeover. The Lost Valley day-use area and trail near Ponca, Arkansas, will be closed beginning Dec. 10, with an expected reopening in late February. According to the National Park Service, Lost Valley draws about 77,000 visitors a year but has suffered...

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Western North Carolina to get millions for land and stream protection, recreation

Western North Carolina will see more hiking trails, added land for the Blue Ridge Parkway and state natural areas and better water quality thanks to $20.7 million in grants awarded recently through the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The grants awarded to municipalities, state agencies and conservation groups will fund 54 projects relating to land...

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Monumental Disaster at the Department of the Interior

This is a tough time to be a federal scientist—or any civil servant in the federal government. The Trump administration is clamping down on science, denying dangerous climate change and hollowing out the workforces of the agencies charged with protecting American health, safety and natural resources. At the Department of the Interior (DOI), with its mission to conserve...

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Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost footpaths

England and Wales have about 140,000 miles of footpaths, but there are an estimated 10,000 more that have been lost from current maps. Even that figure looks like a huge underestimate: a recent survey in Cornwall alone identified 3,000 possible paths that had fallen out of use and needed to be checked. That work of rediscovery is being done by volunteers, people such as...

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Smokies Park Hosts Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration on Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public. The festival will include mountain music, traditional shape note singing, mountain craft...

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No better time than winter for hiking in and around Palm Springs

You can only play so much tennis or golf. And hanging around the pool? It can get really boring. So when visiting the Palm Springs area, head into the hills for some hiking. There are plenty of trails, from easy to strenuous, in this corner of the Sonoran Desert. Trails covering more than 1,250 miles lie within a 60-mile radius of Palm Springs, said Nancy Bone, a member...

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19 of 20 World Leaders Just Pledged to Fight Climate Change. Trump Was the Lone Holdout.

It is telling that on two of the most contentious topics at the Buenos Aires Group of 20 meeting, the United States eventually joined 19 other world leaders on trade, but when it comes to climate change, President Donald Trump remained firmly alone in his belief that it is a hoax. Trump was the only holdout. While the communiqué affirms support for the Paris climate...

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Traveling To Asia? Add Hiking In Hong Kong To Your Itinerary

Hong Kong’s New Territories is one of the best off-the-beaten path destinations. Only 25% of Hong Kong is developed, with a staggering 40% officially reserved for nature preserves and county parks that are managed by the Government Park Authority. Trails are easily accessible, marked and although very beautiful, not high density. Given that in most metropolises...

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What climate change will do to America, region by region

Look, at this point, even the most stubborn among us know that climate change is coming for us. We really don’t have much time until the climate plagues we’re already getting previews of — mega-wildfires, rising sea-levels, superstorm after superstorm — start increasing in frequency. The 4th National Climate Assessment says all that and much more is on its way. Here’s...

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Plan calls for Route 66 to become National Historic Trail

There’s a new proposal moving through Congress seeking to designate Route 66, the highway that connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was once an economic driver for small towns across a post-World War II United States, as a National Historic Trail. U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Jim Inhofe announced this week the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would amend the...

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Climate report details deep hits to the Southwest

Climate change is here. It’s human-caused. And it’s going to deliver a blow to American prosperity. Already hard-hit by drought, wildfires and declining water supplies, the southwestern United States will continue to face those challenges — and new ones. That’s the message from a federal report released over the holiday weekend about climate change and its impact on the...

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National Forest Foundation Plants a Record 2.6 Million Trees in 2018

In 2018, the largest number of trees were planted in a single year by the National Forest Foundation. The NFF works with the U.S. Forest Service to restore priority sites on America’s 193-million-acres of National Forests and engages Americans across the country in stewarding and enjoying these landscapes. The NFF announced a campaign to plant 50 million trees on...

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Next Smokies trail project announced

  A two-year effort to rehabilitate Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now complete, and the next Trails Forever project has been announced — Trillium Gap Trail, a 6.6-mile path that intersects with the Rainbow Falls Trail at Mount LeConte. The rehabilitation of Trillium Gap Trail will take two years, beginning in May 2019, and...

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These Columbia River Gorge hikes reopened on ‘Green Friday’

For the first time since the Eagle Creek Fire, six miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway and several popular trails near Multnomah Falls have reopened, including Angels Rest, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls and Larch Mountain trails east of Portland. The reopening includes the full 7-mile Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop. A short half-mile hike from...

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Government climate report warns of worsening US disasters

As California’s catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of extreme weather disasters are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued the Friday after Thanksgiving also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump. The National Climate Assessment was written long...

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Climate change: Warming gas concentrations at new record high

Concentrations of key gases in the atmosphere that are driving up global temperatures reached a new high in 2017. In their annual greenhouse gas bulletin, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says there is no sign of reversal in this rising trend. Carbon dioxide levels reached 405 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, a level not seen in 3-5 million years. Researchers...

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