Appomattox Court House seeks public input for plans to expand trails

For more than 40 years, visitors to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park have walked among the ghosts of history over seven miles of trails through the park’s historic village and interpretive sites. The park now is seeking public input for plans to expand the current trails to create a comprehensive, site-wide trail system. Appomattox Court House National...

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Why scientsts are calling for rewilding to become part of environmental legislation

Rewilding has the potential to help address the current global biodiversity crisis, but its impact will be limited unless agreed definitions can be reached, backed by further scientific research and helped by a policy backdrop that enables greater integration with current environmental legislation. Rewilding – a philosophy that aims to encourage greater diversity of...

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Beech booming as climate changes, and that’s bad for forests

Beech trees are dominating the woodlands of the northeastern United States as the climate changes, and that could be bad news for the forests and people who work in them, according to a group of scientists. The scientists say the move toward beech-heavy forests is associated with higher temperatures and precipitation. They say their 30-year study, published in the...

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‘Friends’ groups provide vital support for public lands

We all need friends, and public lands in Western North Carolina increasingly receive care in the form of “Friends” nonprofit groups. In an era of shrinking federal budgets for parks and forests, these organizations are stepping up to preserve and maintain public spaces. “Friends groups used to be the margin of excellence; now they’re the margin of survival,” Sally...

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Funding tightens for Vermont’s Long Trail caretakers

Hugh and Jean Joudry have spent the last fifty summers atop Stratton Mountain, and the couple, now in their seventies, aren’t planning to descend any time soon. While their tenure at the mountain’s summit began through the State of Vermont’s Fire Watch program in 1968, the two have watched over the peak as Green Mountain Club caretakers since the 1970s....

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Earthquake Swarms Are Shaking Yellowstone’s Supervolcano. Here’s What That Means.

Something is rocking the massive supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to a recent earthquake swarm, the Yellowstone supervolcano has seen upwards of 200 quakes since February 8, 2018 along with countless smaller tremors. The largest earthquake was an unremarkable magnitude 2.9, and all of them have hit about five miles beneath the surface. Larger...

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Arizona’s Cave Creek hike is a wonderland of rocks

The site of Cave Creek Regional Park has a storied history. Before there were hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic ramadas, the park, north of Phoenix, and its surroundings were used by the ancient Hohokam people, mine operations, farms and ranches. Yet the park’s relics of human endeavors are transient compared to its geological features. Although the 2,922-acre site...

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The One Type of Clothing You Should Never Wear Hiking

Instead of Velcro, buttons, and snap fasteners, magnetic closures are now the trendy alternative for fastening phone cases, gloves, jackets, hoods, and other outerwear. But this seemingly innocuous design feature can actually put your life at risk. A recent incident involving a group of lost hikers and an intense mountain rescue mission could have been avoided had it not...

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Rare Fossils Discovered on Lands Cut From Bears Ears National Monument

Researchers have discovered what may be one of the world’s richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The team’s initial excavation led to the extraordinary discovery of several intact remains of crocodile-like animals called phytosaurs. The findings were publicly announced at...

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Arizona’s Wild Burro Trail is a gateway into the Tortolita Mountains

Trekking in the Tortolitas, northwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a journey into national park-quality desert country — where some 600 species of plants create a comely, prickly, colorful landscape. Palo verde, ironwood and mesquite trees thrive alongside cacti, including chollas, barrels and grand stands of saguaros. The range boasts a large population of crested saguaros —...

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Hut-to-hut systems are growing: let’s plan for them

What comes to mind when you think hut-to-hut: probably Europe and New Zealand. With its highly-organized system of 1,000 backcountry huts New Zealand— about the same size (area and population) as Oregon— is the hut capital of the world; Switzerland and Norway each have about 500 huts. By comparison, the USA has about 110 huts operating within 17 different hut-to-hut...

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Scientists say the fallout from soaring Arctic temperatures will be ‘nasty’

It was the warmest December on record in the Arctic, and 2018 has already set a string of records for lowest Arctic sea ice. Unfortunately for America and the rest of the planet, the best science makes clear that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. “We long ago anticipated that warming would be greatest in the Arctic owing to the vicious cycle of...

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The world’s permafrost holds vast stores of carbon. What happens when it thaws?

Like a giant dragonfly, the chopper skims over undulating swaths of tussocky tundra, then touches down at Wolverine Lake, one of a swarm of kettle lakes near the Toolik Field Station on Alaska’s North Slope. Even before the blades stop spinning, Rose Cory, an aquatic geochemist from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gracefully swings to the ground and beelines to...

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Just Off for a Walk by Stephen Reynolds

Perhaps you’re planning a trip to the United Kingdom in your future, and looking for a chance to explore the scenic countryside. You’ve seen pictures of the majestic coastline in travel guides and thought that maybe you would like to take in some hiking along the sandstone and limestone cliffs that overlook the sea. Enter Stephen Reynolds. What happens when a...

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Bitcoin gobbles up clean energy — just when the real world needs it most

One of the biggest near-term threats to our clean energy future doesn’t even physically exist — but the danger is increasingly very real. The stupendous growth of the virtual currency Bitcoin is creating real-world consequences. Massive number-crunching computer facilities for mining Bitcoin have popped up in parts of the planet where renewable electricity comes...

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Climate Influences Male-Female Balance

For many reptile and fish species, temperature during egg incubation determines whether hatchlings are male or female. In the northern part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists have discovered that 99 percent of immature green turtles hatched in warming sands are female, raising concerns about successful reproduction in the future. U.S. Forest Service scientists...

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USDA Secretary Announces Infrastructure Improvements for Forest System Trails

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the selection of 15 priority areas to help address the more than $300 million trail maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands. Focused trail work in these areas, bolstered by partners and volunteers, is expected to help address needed infrastructure work so that trails managed by USDA Forest Service can be...

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A simple step toward a sustainable economy: Alaska long trails

Building a new sustainable economy can be complex and have numerous hurdles. But sometimes a simple and easy first step forward stands right in front of you. It’s not a new idea; it’s not expensive; and much of it is already in place. It’s the kind of realization that makes Homer Simpson slap his forehead and say, “D’oh.” That first...

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Alaska’s Bering Sea Lost a Third of Its Ice in Just 8 Days

In just eight days in mid-February, nearly a third of the sea ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s west coast disappeared. That kind of ice loss and the changing climate as the planet warms is affecting the lives of the people who live along the coast. At a time when the sea ice should be growing toward its maximum extent for the year, it’s shrinking...

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A father and son pilgrimage on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Before it was too late, writer Mike MacEacheran made a family pilgrimage to the Alps to connect with his father’s wanderlust and retrace the steps taken 50 years before he was born. It was on a grey winter’s day in my parents’ house outside Glasgow, watching storm clouds gather and sparrows dive for shelter in the garden, that I first suggested Mont Blanc in summer....

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How to not need rescuing when you hike in Phoenix

In Phoenix, Arizona summer weather usually starts before the rest of the country’s winter ends. As the temperature starts to tick upward and out-of-town guests arrive for springtime merriment, its important to remember how quickly a day hiking in the desert can turn into a nightmare mountain rescue situation. Last year, Phoenix’s fire department had to rescue...

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The Fight Against a Pipeline Along the Appalachian Trail

  A lawsuit hasn’t been enough to stop construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a proposed 300-mile natural gas pipeline that would cross the Appalachian Trail and some of the region’s largest national forests on its way, from starting as soon as this month. The Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers...

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Oregon state history hikes: 14 trails to celebrate Oregon’s past

You can trace Oregon’s history on its trails. Ever since Oregon gained statehood in 1859 – and for many years before that – pioneers have cut trails through some of the most rugged and beautiful segments of the state. Some trails were made for travelers to settle there, while others were developed for locals to enjoy public lands. Hiking along the historic trails today...

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Southern pine beetle on the rise across the South

Smaller than a grain of rice, the southern pine beetle (SPB) is considered “the most destructive forest pest in the South”. This menacing label appropriately reflects the devastation it can cause, with outbreaks capable of costing millions of dollars between lost timber and management costs. Fortunately, SPB outbreaks are cyclical, typically occurring every 10-15 years....

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At The Wave, competition for hiking permits is fierce

Ranger Ron Kay glanced at an anxious crowd crammed into a U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Kanab, Utah. “All these hopeful faces,” he murmured as the minutes counted down to a drawing for permits to hike to The Wave, an iconic basin of striated orange sandstone just south of the Utah-Arizona state line. More than 80 applications were stacked in front of Kay on...

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‘Dangerous Drift-Prone Pesticide’ Threatens Millions of Acres, Hundreds of Endangered Species

Public interest organizations representing farmers and conservationists made their legal case in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Monsanto Company last week, challenging EPA’s approval of Monsanto’s new “XtendiMax” pesticide. XtendiMax is Monsanto’s version of dicamba, an old and highly...

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10 Tips for Hiking Downhill

Hiking downhill is often taken for granted. In the minds of some it represents the equivalent of “backcountry gravy“; the reward that follows the exertion of a long, challenging ascent. Yet hiking downhill takes its toll. Twists, slips and tumbles are most likely to occur while descending and no other type of hiking causes more wear and tear on the joints and muscles. By...

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A diverse portfolio: Seed bank works to protect genes of WNC plants

It’s been just about 10 years since the day Joe-Ann McCoy, then living in Iowa and working as the national medicinal plant curator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, got a life-changing call from her home region of Western North Carolina. It was the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville, and they wanted to know if she’d be interested in trading her secure government job for a...

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Chemours’ GenX pollution worries spread to West Virginia

A Teflon chemical that last year contaminated a North Carolina river that provides drinking water to a region of more than 200,000 people also has been detected at a well under a Chemours facility in West Virginia, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In an apparent effort to determine the extent of the chemical, called GenX, in the area’s water,...

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How the Chattanooga region’s trails are built and maintained

Mason Boring and Clayton Morgan held adjoining handles of a perforated lancetooth two-man saw, pulling the more-than-70-year-old piece of equipment back and forth. The two were clearing a fallen tree from Fodderstack horse and hiking trail in Cherokee National Forest. Boring estimated it had been five years since a crew came to clear the path. That’s what brought...

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Wildlife habitat, water quality protected in Sandy Mush

When locals speak of Sandy Mush, it’s often in the same breath with words like “sacred land,” “pure,” and “paradise.” So protecting this bucolic expanse of farmland amid North Carolina’s Newfound Mountains of northwestern Buncombe County has been a life’s work for many who live in or who just love the area. The Ellis family recently worked with the Southern...

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The National Park Service is stuck in $11.3 billion hole, but jacking up fees isn’t the way out

Three years ago, the National Park Service banned trucks and buses heavier than 10 tons from crossing over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, a major transportation artery connecting Virginia to Washington D.C. And there’s speculation that the U.S. Secret Service now refuses to cross the 82-year-old concrete span, though the agency would not confirm whether this was...

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