Stairway to heaven: hiking ancient pilgrimage trails in southern Japan

Mountainous Kumano is the holy ground of Japan and pilgrims have been trekking there for centuries. Shrines, mist, forests and waterfalls combine to create an entrancing hike. Kumano is the traditional name for the southern part of Japan’s Kii peninsula. It contains pilgrimage routes dating back more than a millennium. The first pilgrims were adherents of Shinto who...

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Climate coalition tallied all of Trump’s censorship of science. It’s staggering.

President Donald Trump and his administration have censored or stifled science — particularly climate science — almost 100 times since the election. This adds up to a reckless and unprecedented war on science, according to the Silencing Science Tracker, which tallies up all of the budget cuts to science, the record low number of science positions filled by Trump, the...

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Snowpack Near Record Lows Spells Trouble for Western Water Supplies

Scientists say snow seasons like the U.S. West is experiencing now will become more common as global temperatures rise, and economic costs will go up, as well. Months of exceptionally warm weather and an early winter snow drought across big swaths of the West have left the snowpack at record-low levels in parts of the Central and Southern Rockies, raising concerns about...

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Citizens Begin Reclaiming Coal Country After Decades of Corporate Land Grabs

Across central Appalachia, once-thriving mining communities have been ravaged by the collapse of the coal industry and the flight of jobs from the region. For a region that remains rich in natural resources, Appalachia’s local governments continue to struggle to fund basic services such as housing, education and roads. One significant factor in the region’s decline is...

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Explore five of Northwest Montana’s prettiest winter destinations

Northwest Montana is famous for its unmatchable beauty in the summer, but winter offers its own kind of magic. Mother Nature starts with a bare canvas by throwing down a snow blanket to hide the melancholy of landscapes drained of color and strewn with shriveled gardens and fallen leaves. She then constantly rearranges and redecorates, refreshing the landscape with each...

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Appalachian Trail to be accessible throughout government shutdown

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) will remain accessible to the public across the approximately 700 miles managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and over 800 miles managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). A.T. visitors will be able to access and hike on the Trail itself, but no visitor services, maintenance or other management activities will be conducted, and emergency...

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This Is an Unprecedented Kind of Oil Spill

Over the last two weeks, the maritime world has watched with horror as a tragedy has unfolded in the East China Sea. A massive Iranian tanker, the Sanchi, collided with a Chinese freighter carrying grain. Damaged and adrift, the tanker caught on fire, burned for more than a week, and sank. All 32 crew members are presumed dead. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities and...

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A Perilous Shutdown Plan for National Parks

During the 21-day government shutdown of 1995-1996, an enormous blizzard left up to three feet of snow in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park—and no one was there to shovel the parking lots. But that was the least of Bill Wade’s problems. The park’s superintendent at the time, Wade knew that several campers had entered the Shenandoah backcountry before the shutdown....

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Wolves confirmed in Mount Hood National Forest

After years of whispers and reported sightings, wildlife officials have confirmed at least two wolves caught on trail cameras earlier this month roaming the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon’s northern Cascade Mountains. It is the first time multiple wolves were detected in the area since the species returned to Oregon in the late 1990s. Conservationists cheered the...

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This Tourism Hotspot Could be the World’s First City to Run Out of Water

For the first time, a major city may run out of water this year. South Africa’s city of Cape Town has been grappling with water shortages that are the result of what the Weather Channel calls the worst drought to hit the country in 100 years. The situation may result in Cape Town officials shutting off all of the city’s water taps this April. Irregularly dry...

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Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want to save the oceans

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s new environment plan sets ambitious goals for plastic waste reduction. But there’s lots of room for slippage. One goal is to eradicate all “avoidable” plastic waste, though it’s not clear how “avoidable” will be defined. A few concrete measures are now in place, such as the 5p plastic bag charge being extended to cover all businesses...

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Nearly all members of National Park Service advisory panel resign in frustration

Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit January 14, 2018 out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year. The resignation of nine out of 12 National Park System Advisory Board members leaves the federal government without a...

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‘Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise

In March 2015, Joe MacLaren, a state oil and gas inspector in Colorado, drove out to the Taylor 3 oil well near the tiny town of Hesperus, in the southwestern corner of the state. He found an entire checklist of violations. Atom Petroleum, a Texas-based company, had bought out more than 50 oil and gas wells after the company that drilled them went bankrupt. Now, Atom was...

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Serial mountain rescue faker who took a selfie while being winched to safety is jailed for 16 months

As a means of attracting attention, staging accidents on various mountain ranges is not overly common. But that is likely to be of little consolation to the crews who have raced to the aid of Michael Cuminskey, a serial mountain rescue faker with a penchant for taking a selfie as he is winched to safety. Mr. Cuminskey’s antics have cost tens of thousands of pounds, with...

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Under Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, it’s a sell-off from sea to shining sea

On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, last March, Ryan Zinke rode through downtown Washington, D.C., on a roan named Tonto. When the Secretary is working at the department’s main office, on C Street, a staff member climbs up to the roof of the building and hoists a special flag, which comes down when Zinke goes home for the day. The department, which comprises...

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Where to go Hiking on Cape Cod

As avid outdoorsy people, we are always looking for hidden-away spaces to explore that aren’t teeming with other people. During visits to Cape Cod, you will find an array of natural areas. The secret is talking to the locals, who are always willing to let you in on the local gems, those places still undiscovered by your average visitor. For example, Allens Pond Wildlife...

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“Arches For The People” Proposes Solution to Arches National Park’s Congestion Woes

  A group opposed to seeing a reservation system instituted for Arches National Park is pushing a somewhat novel solution: park your car outside the park. Not only would the plan solve the congestion problem at Arches but, its proponents believe, it will create “the first fully sustainable, noise free, and zero emissions national park by 2030.”...

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Photographer shares what he believes is at stake in ANWR with one image

There are no photographs of bison spilling by the thousands across the Great Plains. By the time cameras came along, most of the bison were gone. John Wright of Fairbanks believes he has an Alaska version of what that photo might have been. His image, 12 slide frames stitched together to show the Brooks Range rising from northern tundra, is papered on a wall of the...

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Turning Australia’s old rails into new trails

In the Australian countryside, it is not unusual to stumble across the relics of a vast abandoned rail network that once connected the nation before cars and trucks replaced trains as the preferred mode of transport. These remnants of a forgotten past can range from rail tracks hidden in farm paddocks to majestic stations overlooking silent platforms that have not been...

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Planning a Thru-Hike? Here’s Some Insta-spiration

  If you’re among the thousands who will attempt to conquer a long-distance hiking trail in its entirety within the 2018 hiking season, then you’re probably already busy training, saving, planning, and steeling yourself for some serious communing with nature. In the United States, the term “thru-hiking” is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail...

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Four Texas A&M cadets raise $5.2K for charity after hiking 1,000 miles

Four students in the Texas A&M Aggie Corps of Cadets raised thousands of dollars for charity after hiking more than 1,000 miles in two weeks. Four cadets from Company H-1 decided to spend 13 days of their holiday break hiking from El Paso to Death Valley, California. Sophomore Hunter Birt, sophomore Jordan Rogers, junior Sebastian Brown and sophomore Ian Morrow...

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Experts Say Hiking Might Surpass Yoga In Popularity This Year

There’s no doubt about it: Hiking is having a moment. By now, we know spending time in nature comes with tremendous benefits. It has a scientifically proven anti-inflammatory effect on the body, it promotes a healthier microbiome, and Japanese Forest Bathing—or shinrin-yoku—has been associated with reduced stress, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system....

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Forest Society of Maine announces completion of milestone conservation project near Gulf Hagas and Whitecap Mountain

The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) is celebrating the completion of the permanent conservation of thousands of acres of productive forest land and access to popular recreation lands near Gulf Hagas and Whitecap Mountain in Maine’s North Woods in Piscataquis County. After four years of collaboration with the forestland owner, the state Bureau of Parks and Lands, and...

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What Abbey’s ‘Desert Solitaire’ means in these trying times

The book turns 50 this year, and is more relevant now than ever. Fifty years ago, Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire was published to decent reviews but little fanfare. “Another book dropped down the bottomless well. Into oblivion,” wrote a disheartened Abbey in his journal Feb. 6, 1968. Yet it has remained in print for a half-century and created a devoted following. As...

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National Parks to Waive Entrance Fees on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, national park units across the country will offer visitors free entrance into the parks on Monday, January 15, 2018. Martin Luther King, Jr. day will be the first of four fee-free days this year. Those days include April 21 to celebrate the start of National Park Week, September 22 for National Public Lands Day and November 11 in...

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Los Padres National Forest bracing for debris flows

Crews once battling flames of the Thomas Fire in California are facing a new challenge – an influx of rain creating dangerous mudslides. “The fire and then the flood has been going on in this country for at least 100 years, more like 150 years,” National Forest Service Ranger Pancho Smith said running his hand over the Thomas Fire Burn map. As the rain...

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Melting ice on WNC lakes, streams pose serious hazards as visitors fall through surface

The curvy, two-lane Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, aka U.S. 276, which runs along the Davidson River and through the heart of Pisgah Ranger District, looked more like a July 4 traffic jam over the weekend than a cold and lonely winter day. The lure during the chilly temperatures? The rarely seen frozen Looking Glass Falls, a 60-foot-high stunner that can be easily...

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West Virginia Counties Plan Network of New Trails

An almost forgotten railroad could become a big part of a new trail for hikers, bicycle enthusiasts, and horseback riders that are interested in exploring the mountains and forests of Mercer and Summers counties in West Virginia. Mercer County and neighboring Summers County are working on plans to develop hiking trails and water trails. The hope is that an old railroad...

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Quitting after just 20 miles in 2015, hiker is now Triple Crown holder

Eddie Boyd spent months preparing for a 2015 hike of the Appalachian Trail, only to confront a sobering realization just 20 miles in: He wasn’t ready. At a shelter in Maine, 3 miles into the daunting Hundred-Mile Wilderness, dehydration and self-doubt had set in. Boyd contacted his uncle, who was staying with his parents at a cabin in nearby Baxter State Park, to pick...

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Retired U.S. Forest Service employee fights for the future of trees

The lush beauty of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia is apparent to any visitor, but especially to the keen eye of retired U.S. Forest Service employee Brian Stout. During a 34-year career with the Forest Service, Stout had many assignments, including a final one as the forest supervisor of the 3.5 million acre Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. On...

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Bighorn National Forest celebrates 120 years

One hundred twenty years ago, Wyoming’s Big Horn Forest Reserve was signed into existence by President Grover Cleveland. This legislation outlined that reserves had to meet the criteria of forest protection, watershed protection and timber production. In 1905, the Forest Service was established with the same resource protection focus. By 1908, the forest’s name had...

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67-year-old Triple Crown hiker is still going

When Tom Jamrog was a student at the University of Massachusetts in the early 1970s, a friend gave him the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Jamrog put the quest on his bucket list. A move to Midcoast Maine to build a home in Lincolnville with his wife, Marcia, in 1977 and then raising a family and working as a school psychologist in Rockland put off the...

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