Inspector General: Zinke’s Reassignment Of Native Americans And Climate Scientists Possibly Illegal

The reassignment of dozens of senior career Interior Department (DOI) officials last year may have violated federal law, a damning internal report released April 11, 2018 found. But investigators with the DOI Inspector General’s office said they were unable to say definitively because the agency failed to properly document their reasons for ousting the employees. “Absent...

Learn More

Greenland’s ice is melting much faster than we thought. Here’s why that’s scary.

Our planet is warming and its cryosphere — Earth’s frozen regions — is melting. This we know. The Arctic, in particular, is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And this winter, the sheet of Arctic sea ice that grows and shrinks in an annual cycle was at its second lowest extent since scientists began measuring it with satellites. But the ice that...

Learn More

Volunteers take on historic effort to sign the Continental Divide Trail

  It can be hard to find your way along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT), which runs from Mexico to Canada along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. The trail is completely unmarked in some sections and, in others, blown-down trees and bleaching from the sun have made the existing trail markers, or “blazes,” difficult to spot. But, this year, in...

Learn More

Rainbow Falls Trail Project Continues on Mt. LeConte

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the second phase of a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin Monday, April 16 on the popular Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail will be closed April 16, 2018 through November 15, 2018 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow...

Learn More

The Future Is the Car-Free National Park

Lately we’ve heard a lot from the bureaucrats at the National Park Service about a looming budget crisis. They urgently need $12 billion for maintenance of roads, bridges, visitor centers, trails, and campgrounds worn thin by an enormous increase in visitation. In 2015, the Park Service logged 300 million visitors, the most in its recorded history. The number rose to 330...

Learn More

Bradley Fork and Cabin Flats Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This is one of my new favorite Spring wildflower hikes in the Smokies. The flowers are brilliant along both the Bradley Fork and Cabin Flats Trails. The Smokemont region of the Smokies is one of the most convenient, located just a short few miles northwest of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center off Hwy 441. It is four miles up Bradley Fork to Cabin Flats Trail, then another...

Learn More

Please Don’t Stack Rocks

“Cairns,” Gaelic for “heap of stones” seems to be the new creek art. Surely when you’ve been out on a streamside hike in recent years you’ve noticed a pile or two of someone’s creative intrusion. These temporary natural installations may be an expression of patience and balance to the ego of the builder, but to some naturalists who practice “Leave No...

Learn More

Reaching the Pinnacle: Hiking the Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas

Most Oklahoma hikers are acquainted with the bi-state Ouachita National Recreation Trail’s scenic 46 miles of outdoor adventure in southeastern Oklahoma, which roughly parallels the scenic Talimena Drive roadway. Lesser known to Sooner hikers, the trail’s eastern terminus near striking Pinnacle Mountain in central Arkansas provides a trove of hiking fun and...

Learn More

Public can weigh in on proposed improvements to Pacific Northwest Trail

After traversing Montana, Idaho and the North Cascades, hikers on the Pacific Northwest Trail pass through Whatcom and Skagit counties on their way to the Washington coast. Pacific Northwest Trail Association Executive Director Jeff Kish said in this area the trail could use some improvements and that now is the time for the public to get involved. The Mount...

Learn More

Hikes in San Fancisco’s Bay Area: 9 trails with waterfall endings

The Bay Area’s abundance of outdoors activities is no secret, and now that spring and springtime rains are here, there’s no better time to get outside, especially if you don’t mind a little mud on your shoes. Uvas Canyon County Park, a formerly obscure South Bay hiking retreat, is now so popular for its Instagram-friendly waterfalls that it now requires reservations on...

Learn More

Castle Crags’ spectacular little seen world

With one short jog from Interstate 5 in Northern California, you can discover the state park that is hidden in plain sight. The turnoff is at Castella, bound for Castle Crags State Park. Drivers on I-5 get eye-popping views of the granite spires, pyramids and a missile-shaped dome that poke 6,000-foot holes in the sky. Each hour, about 2,000 vehicles pass by Castle...

Learn More

Transcaucasian Trail: Mapping Eurasia’s forgotten hiking routes

Blame it on the region’s tricky geopolitics or the former Soviet Union, but the mountains of the Caucasus – a high and sheer rocky spine soaring between southwestern Russia and Iran – still for the most part lie untouched and undiscovered. That’s all about to change thanks to 34-year-old Tom Allen, who has seen the potential of these peaks and is...

Learn More

The Top 5: Avoiding Hiking Injuries and Accidents and What to Do

Unlike many other outdoor activities that require extensive training, a hefty investment in equipment, and oftentimes a superior level of fitness, hiking is a fairly accessible and affordable way to get out and get active for mostly everyone. With that said, seeing a hiker get injured is a good reminder of how quickly a leisurely hike can turn into a dangerous and...

Learn More

Accessible only by hiking, Georgia’s Len Foote Hike Inn

The Len Foote Hike Inn is nestled in an exceptionally beautiful stretch of the southern Appalachians. It’s an environmentally sustainable backcountry lodge that’s accessible only by hike, clad in beautiful rustic/modern architecture and a comfortable and welcoming spirit, and dishing fresh and delicious cuisine on a mountaintop with incredible vistas. It’s only...

Learn More

Mud Season Hiking Do’s and Don’ts

Mud season can be a challenge for hikers and trail maintainers alike. So if you want to hike in the spring, knowing how to safely enjoy soggy trails without destroying them is an essential outdoor skill. “More and more people are hiking year-round, and while it is wonderful to have people enjoying the trails, [hikers] are also having an impact,” says Alex DeLucia, the...

Learn More

National parks to rethink plan to hike entrance fees after widespread anger

The Department of the Interior said that it planned to revise a controversial proposal to drastically increase entrance fees at some of the most popular national parks in the country. The interior department press secretary, Heather Swift, said the Trump administration decided to rethink its proposal after Americans flooded the National Park Service (NPS) with more than...

Learn More

Cradle of Forestry 2018 Season Kicks Off April 7

The Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site will begin the 2018 season on April 7 with a living history event, “Old Time Plowing and Folkways.” David and Diane Burnette from Haywood County will demonstrate how their Percheron draft horses work the land the old way. Weather permitting, they will plow the Cradle’s vegetable garden along the Biltmore...

Learn More

Along the border, 500 miles of desert species

One early March morning in southern Arizona’s Coronado National Memorial, an uneven line of scientists and amateur naturalists in floppy hats and hiking pants crept up a steep hillside through yellowed grasses and dark shrubs. Plant names – scientific and common – flitted through the cool air, as the group covered the terrain, moving at the pace of lichen. The dry winter...

Learn More

Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from government science report

National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress, under oath, that his department is not censoring science. The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding...

Learn More

EPA threatens to revoke California’s ability to set emissions standards as the Trump administration moves to abandon fuel mileage goals

The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California’s environmental protections, saying that it may revoke the state’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions. The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy...

Learn More

One day isn’t enough. That’s why #WNCforthePlanet is doing more.

April 22 is Earth Day, but what if “every day was earth day?” — you’ve heard this before, maybe more than a few times. We say it to encourage more conscious personal behavior such as recycling, the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and shopping in the bulk aisle to cut down on unnecessary packaging. And, yes, there’s so much we can do as individuals in our homes, in...

Learn More

Grants awarded for Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail

Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail is the longest state-designated trail in the nation, encompassing more than 2,000 miles of hiking and biking routes, allowing users to explore pristine forests and cool rivers while connecting big cities to smaller and diverse towns. The trail extends from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. It is slated to...

Learn More

Tres Piedras Ranger District: Mosaic Rock

One of the wonders of northern New Mexico is the variety of landscapes in every direction. One day you can ski or snowshoe in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the next be walking on the desert mesa above the Rio Grande. One of the less visited areas is the Tres Piedras Ranger District of the Carson National Forest, northwest of Taos about 30 miles. The area has stands...

Learn More

Up the Great Divide

Stretching between the Canadian and Mexican borders, the Continental Divide Trail connects five states, 25 national forests, 21 wilderness areas, three national parks, eight Bureau of Land Management resource areas, and a national monument. Its many miles are maintained through the collaboration of every land management agency and by an army of volunteers — including...

Learn More

Why Artists are Heading to National Parks and Monuments

When the sun rises at Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), it slowly peaks out from behind Eagle Cliff, casting a pink-orange morning glow onto the pine-flecked slopes of the Continental Divide. The William Allen White Cabin, once owned by the eponymous Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, has a front-row seat to the grandeur. Inside, the scene is just as...

Learn More

Pisgah Ranger District seeks public input on proposed recreation project

The Pisgah National Forest will be holding an open house on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 5-7 p.m. at the Pisgah Ranger Station to discuss a proposed project to increase the sustainability of recreation. “The project is not intended to address all possible improvements on the Pisgah Ranger District, but includes timely projects that consider the social, ecological,...

Learn More

Fire funding fix comes with environmental rollbacks

Congress accomplished something unprecedented last week: They passed a bipartisan solution to a knotty budget issue that has hobbled the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to do restoration and fire-prevention work in Western forests. The $1.3 trillion federal spending package included a long-sought funding fix for wildfire response. Starting in 2020, the Forest Service will...

Learn More

Blue Ridge Parkway announces 2018 opening dates

Cold but dreamy snowfalls punctuated by balmy, hurry-up-and-hike days made for an unpredictable winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but according to the calendar, it’s officially spring. Soon campgrounds, visitor centers, picnic areas, and historical sites will be ready for the influx of travelers. In 2017, more than 16 million came to experience the mountains and the...

Learn More

Stunning drops in solar, wind costs mean economic case for coal, gas is ‘crumbling’

Prices for solar, wind, and battery storage are dropping so rapidly that renewables are increasingly squeezing out all forms of fossil fuel power, including natural gas. The cost of new solar plants dropped 20 percent over the past 12 months, while onshore wind prices dropped 12 percent, according to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report. Since 2010, the...

Learn More

Petrified Forest National Park: 10 tips for your visit

One of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world is found at Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona, about 110 miles east of Flagstaff and 210 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Scientific studies show that the petrified trees found within the park date back 211 to 218 million years. Add to that dramatic, colorful geological formations and...

Learn More

Dam removal projects restore WNC waterways

Nonprofits, community groups and government agencies throughout Western North Carolina are now working to remove a legacy of outdated dams. Although challenging, the process offers benefits for the wildlife, safety and recreation potential of the area’s waterways. Ecology provides the primary impetus for most dam removal projects. At the most basic level, eliminating...

Learn More

Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, a former nuclear weapons plant, prepares to open hiking trails this summer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to open the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge in Colorado to the public this summer despite attempts to block developing the refuge, which circles a shuttered nuclear weapons production facility. Private tours have already started, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager David Lucas said. No hard date exists yet for the full...

Learn More