National parks are already setting attendance records. Now come the eclipse chasers.

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will blaze through 20 national parks and nine national trails in its path of totality across the United States, which begins in Oregon and ends in South Carolina. And those who were lucky enough to book campsites and hotels in time will be heading into these parks to experience it in gorgeous natural splendor. While the parks in...

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Military bases’ contamination will affect water for generations

Once a fighter jet training base critical to the Cold War, little remains of the former George Air Force Base but rows of dilapidated houses, a dismantled military hospital and dangerous chemicals from pesticides, jet fuels and other hazardous wastes that have poisoned the water for decades. “Now when I see the base today, areas of it look like a war zone,” said Frank...

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Weathering the violence of climate change

With India experiencing its worst drought in 140 years, Indian farmers have taken to the streets. At a protest in Madhya Pradesh this summer, police opened fire on farmers demanding debt relief and better crop prices. In Tamil Nadu, angry growers have held similar protests, and lit candles in remembrance of those killed. And at one rally in New Delhi, farmers carried...

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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

You are the owner of a 1.1-million acre mountain estate. Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams. You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your...

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At Berryessa National Monument, Wildflowers and Rebirth

The fields give way to darkly arching oaks, tree tunnels shading a narrow country road outside Winters, Calif. The early-hour brightness indicates the nearness of summer. Here, an hour and a half northeast of San Francisco, the dense press of civilization lifts, and the open wilderness weaves itself into the landscape. The light is somehow ventilated, given more space....

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Lego wants to convert their iconic plastic bricks to a biomaterial that can survive generations of play

In March, 2017, the Lego Group unveiled the world’s tallest Lego wind turbine to celebrate having met its 100% renewable-energy target three years ahead of schedule. The 30-ft-tall wind turbine built from 146,000 Lego bricks pays tribute to the Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm near Liverpool, UK, one of Lego’s investments in wind energy totaling $940 million since...

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If Americans Are So Worried About Pollution, Why Are So Few Willing to Speak Up About It?

Smokestacks billow toxic clouds while crumpled food wrappers dance across the street with the breeze. Given the damage pollution can cause, it’s fair to wonder, how do Americans feel about it? While pollution is a broad term, several different types bother Americans. Based on the survey results, industrial pollution draws the most ire, followed by water waste and...

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How do firefighters determine the cause of a wildfire?

Behind every wildfire is a mystery: How did it start? Was it human-caused? And, if so, who’s responsible? The recent Peak 2 Fire in Summit County, CO which forced hundreds of residential evacuations and a $2 million bill for emergency services, was found to be the result of two hikers. But how is that determined? “Typically the investigation starts the moment we’re aware...

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There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up

Throughout history, humans have existed side-by-side with bacteria and viruses. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have evolved to resist them, and in response they have developed new ways of infecting us. We have had antibiotics for almost a century, ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. In response, bacteria have responded by evolving antibiotic...

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Former Interior Secretary rips Trump’s “illegal”, “unpopular” attempt to revoke national monuments

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell offered a pointed criticism of the current administration’s views on public lands — particularly of its decision to review 27 national monuments, with an eye towards altering or removing them. Jewell gave the remarks in a keynote address at Outdoor Retailer, the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual trade show in Utah. “President...

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Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests Designated as Treasured Landscape by National Forest Foundation

Since the establishment of eastern National Forests at the beginning of the 20th century, the forests of western North Carolina have been recognized and valued for their importance to scenic outdoor experiences and directly connected to the health of the region. The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in particular cover a remarkable and unique landscape, spanning the...

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Vandals Permanently Damage Mesa Verde National Park: ‘Why Do…People Do This?’

Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park is calling on visitors to rise to a higher standard after vandals left graffiti and litter throughout the park, even destroying cultural artifacts to do so. “Why do you think people do this?” the park said in a Facebook post last week. “What do you think the intent is and what can we do as a culture to cut down on these...

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Energy efficiency is a huge money saver — but the Trump administration is against it

There’s a draft study of the electric grid requested by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that found federal energy efficiency policies are in the process of saving U.S. consumers and businesses more than a half trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the new administration is halting energy efficiency policies and gutting funding for energy efficiency improvements for American...

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Whistleblower Case Shows How Trump Tries to Silence Environmental and Climate Science

For the first time since the Trump administration came to office and began dismantling the key science underpinnings of federal climate policy, a senior agency official has invoked the protections of the whistleblower law to publicly object to what he calls an illegal attempt to intimidate him. The official, Joel Clement, had been the director of the Office of Policy...

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Planning a visit to Zion National Park? You might need to RSVP first

This would be a first for a U.S. national park: requiring reservations to get in. But it’s an option that Zion National Park is considering to manage an overwhelming surge of visitors to its sweeping red-rock vistas and canyons in Utah. Zion, which welcomed 4.3 million people last year, is weighing online reservations for those who want to explore its main canyon....

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Join Park Rangers for Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are excited to announce a new opportunity for the public to participate in service projects across the park. Park staff have coordinated ten Smokies Service Days on Saturdays beginning July 22, 2017 through October 28. Individuals and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them...

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Mountain Valley Pipeline: An Unnecessary Threat to the Appalachian Trail

The Mountain Valley Pipeline, spearheaded by EQT Corporation, is proposed to carry fracked natural gas for over 300 miles through the Virginia and West Virginia countryside, crossing over dozens of water sources, through protected areas and breaching the A.T. corridor. The pipeline will run parallel to the Appalachian Trail for over 90 miles and carve ugly gashes in the...

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NC Wildlife Success Story: American River Otter

Even as one of the most widely distributed mammals currently in the United States, the American river otter (Lutra canadensis lataxina) is an exciting sight for fishermen, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts. With a playful nature (often times seen treading water to take in surroundings, or sliding down mud banks) partnered with the otter’s extreme curiosity, the...

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