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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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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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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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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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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Coast Guard orders cleanup of massive 14-year oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

The federal government issued an ultimatum to an energy company to stop an oil spill that has been leaking thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico every day for more than 14 years. In an order issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Taylor Energy Co. was told to “institute a … system to capture, contain, or remove oil” from the site or face a $40,000 per day fine for...

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It’s now cheaper to build a new wind farm than to keep a coal plant running

Inflation dictates that the cost of living will continue to rise — except, it seems, when it comes to renewable energy. The cost of building a new utility-scale solar or wind farm has now dropped below the cost of operating an existing coal plant, according to an analysis by the investment bank Lazard. Accounting for government tax credits and other energy incentives...

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Duke Energy Begins Final Phase of Mt. Sterling Solar Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Duke Energy will remove utility poles and overhead powerline along a 3.5-mile utility corridor that extends from the park boundary at Mt. Sterling Road (Hwy NC284) to the Mt. Sterling Fire Lookout Tower beginning Monday, November 19, 2018 through Friday, November 30. Work will not occur on weekends or the...

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New permit system will limit hiking in Oregon’s Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters wilderness in 2020

Hiking and camping in three of Oregon’s most popular wilderness areas will be restricted starting in 2020, an attempt by outdoor officials to limit damage from growing crowds of visitors. The U.S. Forest Service announced a decision to install a permit system limiting the number of people in the Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters and Mount Washington Wilderness areas....

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In stunning loss, 83% of Santa Monica Mountains federal parkland burned in Woolsey fire

The Woolsey fire burned about 83% of national park land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a stunning loss of a cherished open space area for Southern California. The Santa Monica Mountains, which stretch from Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu in Ventura County, have long offered Southern Californians a respite from the city below with the range’s array...

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Effect of Recreational Trails on Forest Birds: Human Presence Matters

Recreational activities in nature have increased enormously in the last decades. This trend is raising concerns of researchers and conservationists about the potential impact of human recreation on wild animals. Humans are often perceived as potential predators by wildlife. Thus, when exposed to human presence, animals may react with important changes in their behavior...

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First International Agreement Protecting Newly Opened Arctic High Seas

The Pew Charitable Trusts today praised the signing of an international agreement that prevents unregulated fishing in the high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years unless science-based measures are agreed upon and established. Delegations from nine nations and the European Union met near Greenland’s Ilulissat Ice Fjord to finalize the accord, the first...

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Veterans Day Is Fee Free at Our National Parks

Many national parks have direct connections to the American military—there are dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. In addition, every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the...

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Widely Used Mosquito Repellent Lethal For Salamanders

Insect repellents containing picaridin can be lethal to salamanders. So reports a new study published in Biology Letters that investigated how exposure to two common insect repellents influenced the survival of aquatic salamander and mosquito larvae. Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and...

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Red wolves can’t be arbitrarily killed, federal judge rules

  A federal district court judge has forbidden the US Fish and Wildlife Service from allowing private landowners to kill nonthreatening red wolves, ruling that the agency has violated several sections of the Endangered Species Act. Chief US District Court Judge Terence Boyle ruled that the USFWS can no longer grant “take permits” except under extremely narrow...

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Come see forests and peaks, but clean up, New Zealand says

New Zealand has a message for the visitors drawn by its deep mossy forests, bubbling mud pools and magnificent peaks: clean up after yourselves. A new campaign called the “Tiaki Promise” is telling everybody traveling to the country to take responsibility for looking after it. The country wants visitors to pick up litter and otherwise take care of their surroundings so...

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Yet-to-be-discovered dinosaur fossils may be at risk after Trump slashed the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante

Southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may have originally safeguarded untapped troves of ancient fossils, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented reduction of the monument has exposed vast deposits of these scientific treasures to potential energy development. Areas removed from the Staircase are nearly as rich in fossils as those that remain,...

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Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming

The world’s oceans have been soaking up far more excess heat in recent decades than scientists realized, suggesting that Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted in the years ahead, according to new research published Wednesday. Over the past quarter-century, the Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had...

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900 acres of Little White Oak Mountain become public land in Polk County

Conserving Carolina made 900 acres of North Carolina’s Little White Oak Mountain public, donating 600 acres to the state to expand the Green River Game Lands and 300 acres to Polk County for a local park. Conserving Carolina said that together, the 900 acres of conserved land in Mill Spring protect views of a local scenic landmark, approximately 13 miles of streams...

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When nature hurls your garbage right back at you

As long as geysers are treated like garbage cans there remains the possibility of a trash eruption. Ear Spring geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park, had long been engorged by years of trash left inside of it by ill-mannered tourists. So naturally when the geyser erupted in September, unleashing its usual blast of searing-hot water and air, a nasty wave of dreck...

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WNC Public Asked To Report Hellbender Sightings

With fall fishing in full swing, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public, in particular hikers and anglers, to report any sightings of hellbenders (water dogs) to the agency. Reported sightings are an important part of a long-term inventory and monitoring project for hellbenders that agency staff, along with partners, began in 2007. Agency biologists...

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A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor...

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The Sailing Stones of Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is a strange place by any standard. Famously known for being the hottest place on earth, Death Valley also sits at the driest and lowest elevation in North America. Its strangest feature of all is the mysterious Racetrack Playa. Here, rocks drift across the flat desert landscape, seemingly propelled by no power other than their own. Located on...

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Inside the New Battle for the American West

Deep in a box canyon in Utah, in the heart of the fractured land known as Bears Ears National Monument, there is a cave—a swooping, mineral-streaked alcove in a sandstone cliff. In December 1893 a rancher-explorer named Richard Wetherill pushed his way through dense reeds and discovered inside that alcove a stacked-stone ruin where a prehistoric group of Native Americans...

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Is Resistance Futile? Cigarette Butts Still Dominate Public Lands Litter

Smokers burn through 6 trillion cigarettes every year, and most are tossed into the environment. Butts contain microplastics and harmful chemicals, and new research suggests they may be directly toxic to wildlife. Efforts to curb butt litter have been largely futile. For the environmental advocacy group Surfrider, a plan to curb the littering of cigarette butts began...

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Biodiversity Inventory Reaches 1,000 New Species Mark at GSMNP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its non-profit partner, Discover Life in America (DLIA), recently celebrated the 20th year of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) with the announcement of a major milestone of the project – 1,000 new species to science! Over the last 20 years, many species have been documented in the park for the first time, but the...

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’Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss

Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating...

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