What does it take to be a National Park Service law enforcement ranger?

Danielle Breakell graduated from her law enforcement training academy this week. She has the skills to take down an armed fugitive, as well as a black bear or a bison. She’ll be able to read perpetrators their Miranda rights, while also citing the Endangered Species Act. And she will gladly write tickets for littering along with driving under the influence. Breakell, 29,...

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Smokies Celebrates 20 Years of New Species Discoveries

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating 20 years of conducting biodiversity inventories. Park managers, biologists, educators, and non-park scientists initiated an effort to discover all life in the Smokies through an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) on Earth Day in 1998. The non-profit partner Discover Life in America (DLIA), created in 1998,...

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Chestnut Mountain: A Gift for All of Tennessee

Alex Wyss vividly recalls his first visit to Chestnut Mountain in 2013. “I was struck by how spectacular this property was,” says the Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. “A very large forested property—nearly 6,000 acres. In great condition. Gorgeous scenic views. We already knew it was in a biologically rich area and in close proximity or...

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Climate change could make thousands of tropical islands ‘uninhabitable’ in coming decades, new study says

More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to new research. The threats to the islands are twofold. In the long term, the rising seas threaten to inundate...

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National Forest Foundation launches ambitious effort to plant 50 million trees

On Earth Day 2018, April 22nd, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) launched an ambitious campaign to plant 50 million trees on America’s National Forests. The NFF initiated this effort to address the increasing reforestation needs on our National Forests. Many Americans are unaware that an estimated one million acres of National Forests need reforestation. Every...

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The cloud forest in our backyard

On some mornings, the mountains across our valley radiate in the dawn light, but frequently they are coyly veiled by clouds. These are the highest peaks in the East — ancient mountains, among the oldest on the continent — and a tattered shawl of dark forest drapes over the ridge and its craggy shoulders. This high-elevation dark green forest is one of Western North...

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Why the Trump administration wants to open ANWR to drilling so quickly

At the end of last year, President Trump and Congress officially gave the green light to oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). For Alaskan lawmakers, the inclusion of a drilling provision in the GOP tax bill was a victorious end to a nearly 40-year struggle to develop parts of the resource-rich refuge. But lifting the decades-old ban...

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Free entrance to all national parks is Saturday to kickoff National Park Week

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced its kicking off National Park Week with free entrance to all national parks on Saturday, April 21, 2018. For one week each April, Interior joins with the National Park Foundation to celebrate America’s public lands. The theme for National Park Week is “Park Stars,” which celebrates everything from starry skies to park...

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Planning a spring hike? Step carefully when it’s muddy so you don’t damage trails, habitat

The welcome arrival of spring weather will undoubtedly encourage outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage by hitting the many trails in their surrounding communities. It’s a great time of year to see colorful wildflowers blooming in the desert, before the arrival of rattlesnakes and the stifling summer heat, or spring ephemerals that blossom before the greening of the...

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Drilling, one mile outside Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes

Since President Donald Trump was sworn into office last year, the administration has used its “energy dominance” agenda to require states to conduct quarterly sales on public lands across the West. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management is on track to double the acreage open for leasing in 2018, compared to 2017, in six Western states. This September, 11 parcels...

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Reckoning with History: The parks have been fixed before

When the Great Depression and World War II concluded, the national park system was in disarray. The extractive industry sought greater access to resources, such as timber in Olympic National Park, while bureaucrats eyed sites for future dams, including in Dinosaur National Monument. Most importantly, the park system was growing as new units were added and more visitors...

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White House Abruptly Orders EPA To Loosen Clean Air Rules In Polluter Giveaway

With little notice, President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency on April 12, 2018 to dramatically overhaul national clean air standards and make it easier for industry to pollute in areas where it’s already dangerous to breathe. The executive order puts poor communities and people of color particularly at risk. The executive order ― titled...

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Inspector General: Zinke’s Reassignment Of Native Americans And Climate Scientists Possibly Illegal

The reassignment of dozens of senior career Interior Department (DOI) officials last year may have violated federal law, a damning internal report released April 11, 2018 found. But investigators with the DOI Inspector General’s office said they were unable to say definitively because the agency failed to properly document their reasons for ousting the employees. “Absent...

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Greenland’s ice is melting much faster than we thought. Here’s why that’s scary.

Our planet is warming and its cryosphere — Earth’s frozen regions — is melting. This we know. The Arctic, in particular, is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And this winter, the sheet of Arctic sea ice that grows and shrinks in an annual cycle was at its second lowest extent since scientists began measuring it with satellites. But the ice that...

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Rainbow Falls Trail Project Continues on Mt. LeConte

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the second phase of a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin Monday, April 16 on the popular Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail will be closed April 16, 2018 through November 15, 2018 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow...

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The Future Is the Car-Free National Park

Lately we’ve heard a lot from the bureaucrats at the National Park Service about a looming budget crisis. They urgently need $12 billion for maintenance of roads, bridges, visitor centers, trails, and campgrounds worn thin by an enormous increase in visitation. In 2015, the Park Service logged 300 million visitors, the most in its recorded history. The number rose to 330...

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Please Don’t Stack Rocks

“Cairns,” Gaelic for “heap of stones” seems to be the new creek art. Surely when you’ve been out on a streamside hike in recent years you’ve noticed a pile or two of someone’s creative intrusion. These temporary natural installations may be an expression of patience and balance to the ego of the builder, but to some naturalists who practice “Leave No...

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National parks to rethink plan to hike entrance fees after widespread anger

The Department of the Interior said that it planned to revise a controversial proposal to drastically increase entrance fees at some of the most popular national parks in the country. The interior department press secretary, Heather Swift, said the Trump administration decided to rethink its proposal after Americans flooded the National Park Service (NPS) with more than...

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Cradle of Forestry 2018 Season Kicks Off April 7

The Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site will begin the 2018 season on April 7 with a living history event, “Old Time Plowing and Folkways.” David and Diane Burnette from Haywood County will demonstrate how their Percheron draft horses work the land the old way. Weather permitting, they will plow the Cradle’s vegetable garden along the Biltmore...

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Along the border, 500 miles of desert species

One early March morning in southern Arizona’s Coronado National Memorial, an uneven line of scientists and amateur naturalists in floppy hats and hiking pants crept up a steep hillside through yellowed grasses and dark shrubs. Plant names – scientific and common – flitted through the cool air, as the group covered the terrain, moving at the pace of lichen. The dry winter...

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Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from government science report

National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress, under oath, that his department is not censoring science. The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding...

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EPA threatens to revoke California’s ability to set emissions standards as the Trump administration moves to abandon fuel mileage goals

The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California’s environmental protections, saying that it may revoke the state’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions. The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy...

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One day isn’t enough. That’s why #WNCforthePlanet is doing more.

April 22 is Earth Day, but what if “every day was earth day?” — you’ve heard this before, maybe more than a few times. We say it to encourage more conscious personal behavior such as recycling, the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and shopping in the bulk aisle to cut down on unnecessary packaging. And, yes, there’s so much we can do as individuals in our homes, in...

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Why Artists are Heading to National Parks and Monuments

When the sun rises at Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), it slowly peaks out from behind Eagle Cliff, casting a pink-orange morning glow onto the pine-flecked slopes of the Continental Divide. The William Allen White Cabin, once owned by the eponymous Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, has a front-row seat to the grandeur. Inside, the scene is just as...

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Pisgah Ranger District seeks public input on proposed recreation project

The Pisgah National Forest will be holding an open house on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 5-7 p.m. at the Pisgah Ranger Station to discuss a proposed project to increase the sustainability of recreation. “The project is not intended to address all possible improvements on the Pisgah Ranger District, but includes timely projects that consider the social, ecological,...

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Fire funding fix comes with environmental rollbacks

Congress accomplished something unprecedented last week: They passed a bipartisan solution to a knotty budget issue that has hobbled the U.S. Forest Service’s ability to do restoration and fire-prevention work in Western forests. The $1.3 trillion federal spending package included a long-sought funding fix for wildfire response. Starting in 2020, the Forest Service will...

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Stunning drops in solar, wind costs mean economic case for coal, gas is ‘crumbling’

Prices for solar, wind, and battery storage are dropping so rapidly that renewables are increasingly squeezing out all forms of fossil fuel power, including natural gas. The cost of new solar plants dropped 20 percent over the past 12 months, while onshore wind prices dropped 12 percent, according to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report. Since 2010, the...

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Dam removal projects restore WNC waterways

Nonprofits, community groups and government agencies throughout Western North Carolina are now working to remove a legacy of outdated dams. Although challenging, the process offers benefits for the wildlife, safety and recreation potential of the area’s waterways. Ecology provides the primary impetus for most dam removal projects. At the most basic level, eliminating...

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UN reports see a lonelier planet with fewer plants, animals

Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate, according to four new United Nations scientific reports that provide the most comprehensive and localized look at the state of biodiversity. Scientists meeting in Colombia issued four regional reports on how well animal and plants are doing in the Americas; Europe and Central Asia; Africa; and the...

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So Many Cacti Are Getting Stolen From Arizona’s National Park, They’re Being Microchipped

Visiting America’s national parks will forever change you. The remarkable beauty that these vast areas have to offer is almost impossible to truly describe — which is why people are often tempted to take a piece of the park home with them in the form of a plant, rock, or something more precious. But it should go without saying you should never, ever vandalize or steal...

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Kolob Canyons at Zion to Close for Construction Projects

Access to portions of the Kolob Canyons District of Zion National Park will be restricted due to a construction project beginning May 1, 2018. The project involves reconstructing sections of the road, repaving the entire road, and adding accessible parking, sidewalk, and toilet facilities. All of Kolob Canyons Road, the Visitor Center, and parking lot off of Interstate...

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Omnibus spending bill would increase funding for national parks and wildfire suppression

The spending bill passed by the House and Senate on March 22, 2018 would increase funding the National Park Service needs to address its nearly $12 billion maintenance and repair backlog. Under the proposal the Park Service would receive a 9 percent increase to its budget. The measure includes about $160 million to make repairs that would help growing numbers of visitors...

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