Western NC’s Fire Towers Provide Panoramic Mountain Views

At the summit, they found a good excuse to set down their packs and stretch their toes: There, a tall, rusty Tinkertoy of a fire tower, known simply as Shuckstack, cast a portentous shadow. Another hiker, having just descended steps that didn’t seem nearly sturdy enough to hold him, brushed past Peter and Brad, declaring, “I might be the last one to climb that tower...

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More than 150 roads in need of repair around SC’s Francis Marion National Forest

The drive to meet Mark and Ronnie Morris is bumpy. Potholes pepper the roads through the Francis Marion National Forest where the brothers have lived their entire lives. They say the conditions are worse than they’ve ever seen them. “If you don’t have four-wheel drive you can’t make it,” Mark Morris explained. Ronnie described the roads like something from a war movie....

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Worrying new research finds that the ocean is cutting through a key Antarctic ice shelf

  A new scientific study has found that warm ocean water is carving an enormous channel into the underside of one of the key floating ice shelves of West Antarctica, the most vulnerable sector of the enormous ice continent. The Dotson ice shelf, which holds back two separate large glaciers, is about 1,350 square miles in area and between 1,000 and 1,600 feet...

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Trump moves to cancel landmark Obama climate change rule

The Trump administration officially moved to kill the Obama-era climate change rule for power plants, fulfilling a campaign pledge but setting off what is expected to be a bitter legal battle between the EPA and several states, health and environmental groups. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an agency proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which would have sped...

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Congressman Introduces Legislation To Extensively Rewrite Antiquities Act

  A Utah congressman long unhappy with the authority given presidents under The Antiquities Act to establish national monuments has introduced legislation that would extensively rewrite the century-old act. If enacted, the rewrite would limit the purposes for which monuments could be created, require environmental review of proposed designations, and allow...

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There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say

New research finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments. It’s very unlikely that we would ever...

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House Committee on Natural Resources votes to gut the Wilderness Act

  A stealth attack on the Wilderness Act comes in the form of H.R. 3668, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. It would affect every wilderness in the nation. On September 15, 2017 the SHARE Act was passed by the Committee on Natural Resources and sent to the full House of...

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The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests: An Economic Powerhouse for Western North Carolina

  If you’re one of the 4.6 million people who visit the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests each year, you already know how incredible this corner of the Southern Appalachians is. Perhaps you’ve paddled down the Tuckasegee River, climbed at Looking Glass, or hiked in Linville Gorge. No matter your preferred form of adventure, you know the Nantahala-Pisgah...

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Cradle of Forestry Hosts Forest Festival Day and Woodsmen’s Meet October 7

The Cradle of Forestry invites people of all ages to celebrate the forest heritage of western North Carolina during the annual Forest Festival Day on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. This is the Cradle’s largest event of the year. This activity-filled, family event commemorates the traditions of mountain living and craft in the Cradle’s unique...

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Death of gas and diesel begins as GM announces plans for ‘all-electric future’

After nearly a century of building vehicles powered by fossil fuels, General Motors — one of the world’s largest automakers — announced October 2, 2017 that the end of GM producing internal combustion engines is fast approaching. The acceleration to an all-electric future will begin almost immediately, with GM releasing two new electric models next year and an additional...

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Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) Program – Air Drops Over Western North Carolina

Beginning in the late 1970s, a strain of rabies virus associated with raccoons rapidly spread along the east coast of the United States northward from Florida and southward from West Virginia. As the virus invaded new areas, there was an explosive increase in rabid raccoons, with many states reporting over 500 cases in a year. Compounding the problem, raccoon-variant...

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Earthjustice Wins 16-Year-Long Battle to Protect 50 Million Acres of Forests

  A decades-long fight over a landmark rule protecting wild forests nationwide took another successful–and possibly final–turn after a U.S. district court threw out a last-ditch attack by the state of Alaska against the Roadless Rule. Adopted in the closing days of the Clinton administration, the Roadless Rule prohibits most logging and road construction in...

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Good news! Global carbon emissions stayed mostly flat in 2016.

This marks the third year in a row with no increase in CO2 emissions, according to a new report published from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. That’s largely due to a shift away from coal to natural gas, which tends to produce more electricity more efficiently, and renewable energy. The five largest emitting countries plus the European Union, which...

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National parks set their sights on being litter-free

  “I know how to eliminate litter at national parks,” he told the Undersecretary of the Interior. “How? How?” he responded, animated. The Interior’s collective yearning to take on littering could create a template that could be effective for park districts across America. The Interior manages the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and...

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Nantahala, Pisgah forest planning focuses on recreation

The Access Fund is one of many members of the two collaborative groups – the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership and the Stakeholders Forum – working on recommendations for the Nantahala and Pisgah Plan Revision. The years-long project holds the potential to change the way millions of people use the two giant forests that spread across the mountains of Western North...

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76 women on a glacier are changing the world

Heidi Steltzer’s job, as she puts it, is “hiking where no one else will go.” As a mountain and polar ecologist studying rare plants, she’s accustomed to traveling to breathtaking Arctic vistas to chase flora along mountain ridges. But watching glaciers calve on her first trip to Antarctica last December was a one-of-a-kind experience for the scientist. “You kind of want...

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Have crosscut, will travel; Sawyers from Bitterroot National Forest aid hurricane recovery effort

Three sawyers from the Bitterroot National Forest of Montana are taking their crosscut saws to hurricane-ravaged Georgia to help clear trees in wilderness areas there. The three — Amelia Shields, Sierra LaBonte and Katherine Bicking — left the Bitterroot National Forest, where they worked all summer clearing trails. They expect to be available for work on the...

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National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors

The rocky shorelines, shifting deserts and winding canyons of the country’s 59 national parks have been hallmarks of American vacations for generations. But the number of park visitors has reached an unprecedented level, leaving many tourists frustrated and many environmentalists concerned about the toll of overcrowding. In 2016, the National Park Service tracked a...

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National Parks offering free admission for 3 days this fall

The National Park Service offered 10 fee-free days in 2017, but nearly a third of those days are yet to come. This fall, travelers will get three opportunities to get into national parks free of charge: on Sept. 30 for National Public Lands Day, and on Nov. 11 and 12 for Veterans Day weekend. On those days, all entrance fees will be waived, though camping and other fees...

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Cabin restoration completed at Smokies historic Elkmont

  It still takes imagination to envision sitting among the suit-and-dress crowd listening to the orchestra on a Saturday night at the Appalachia Club House in the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thanks to a National Park Service project, however, at least a part of what it was like during those 1910 glory days is being...

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Purchase opens 32,600 Arizona acres near Coronado Forest to hiking

The U.S. Interior Department’s purchase of a plot of private land will allow public access to 32,600 acres of previously isolated forest land in Arizona, a move that drew praise from wilderness advocates and hunters alike. The deal opens up two parcels of public land, one in the Coronado National Forest and one northwest of Safford, that had been inaccessible because...

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Hurricanes keep bringing blackouts. Clean energy could keep the lights on.

When Hurricane Irma scraped its way up the Florida peninsula, it left the state’s electrical grid in pieces. Between 7 million and 10 million people lost power during the storm — as much as half of the state — and some vulnerable residents lost their lives in the sweltering days that followed. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of electrical workers from around the country...

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Rural communities can coexist with wolves. Here’s how.

Because wolves are prolific breeders and able to adapt to a range of habitats, they do fine, so long as they’re not poisoned, trapped or profusely shot. The key to a future for wolves is retaining public support by minimizing conflict. That means finding ways for wolves and ranchers to coexist. Washington has forged a model for building coexistence based on bringing...

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A military legacy loosens its grip on a landscape

In 1942, the U.S. Army transformed a valley near Leadville, Colorado, into training grounds for its 10th Mountain Division. The high altitude, climate and steep terrain prepared World War II troops for critical battles in the Italian Alps. At Camp Hale, as the area at the headwaters of the Eagle River became known, thousands of soldiers learned to ski, mountaineer and...

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Small Pests, Big Problems: The Global Spread of Bark Beetles

Warming temperatures are fueling the expansion of pine and spruce beetle outbreaks across North America, Europe, and Siberia, ravaging tens of thousands of square miles of woodlands. Scientists warn that some forest ecosystems may never recover. First, mountain pine beetles devastated lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees across western North America. Then came spruce...

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Park Hosts Volunteer Trail Opportunity for National Public Lands Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a volunteer trail maintenance workday on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in celebration of the 24th annual National Public Lands Day. Participants are invited to participate on a trail rehabilitation project along the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers will perform trail maintenance including...

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Volunteers remove tons of trash from Arizona National Forest land

Arizona’s Natural Restorations remove trash, graffiti and anything foreign to the environment from natural areas throughout the state. They have a passion for nature and believe outdoor restoration and education ensures everyone will be able to enjoy the outdoors for generations to come. They approach every project with a commitment to long-term change and making...

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Important Facts You Should Know About Post-Wildfire Restoration

As of September 15, 2017, over 8,834,487 acres across the United States have been burned by wildfire, the highest number of wildfire acres burned in year-to-date records kept by the National Interagency Fire Center. The highest total acreage burned in any year on record is 9,873,745, in 2006. Wildfire is a necessary and important part of a natural landscape, but it is...

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Glacial melt will wreck ecosystems

Glaciers cover one-tenth of the planet’s land surface – but not for much longer. Glaciers worldwide are in retreat, and losing mass. They are shrinking and melting, and that will create problems almost everywhere, according to new research. Between 2003 and 2009, glaciers melted on a gargantuan scale, with an estimated 1,350 cubic kilometres of meltwater draining from...

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For the National Parks, a Reckoning

Even though the National Park Service is charged with keeping places like Sequoia “unimpaired” for future generations, it doesn’t usually step in when trees meet their end because of thirst and pestilence. Droughts and insects are supposed to be normal, natural occurrences. But it’s hard to say whether the changes witnessed here — or at neighboring Kings Canyon National...

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A Bear’s-Eye view of the Katmai Coast

Ever wonder what the world looks like through the eyes of a brown bear? Researchers at Katmai National Park wonder, too. To learn more, they initiated a collaborative, multi-year study examining the relationship between intertidal resources, coastal brown bear behavior, and human influences. As a part of this study, nine brown bears along the Katmai coast were outfitted...

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The West Is on Fire. Get Used to It.

The West is burning, and there’s no relief in sight. More than 80 large wildfires are raging in an area covering more than 1.4 million acres, primarily in California, Montana, and Oregon, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Taken together, that’s a wildfire larger than the state of Delaware. California has declared a state of emergency as wildfires burn...

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