An estimated 2,000 U.S. veterans are set to protect protesters at Standing Rock

U.S. military veterans continue to arrive at the snowy Standing Rock encampment to form a human shield between protesters and police. By Sunday, camp organizers say, about 2,000 vets will be on site. “Our goal is to stand there and if need be take the rounds for the First Nations people so they can do their thing,” said Mark Sanderson, a former Army Sergeant who served...

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EPA’s late changes to fracking study downplayed risk of polluted drinking water

Top officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year made critical changes at the eleventh hour to a highly anticipated, five-year scientific study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on the nation’s drinking water. The changes, later criticized by scientists for lacking evidence, played down the risk of pollution that can result from the...

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North Carolina man admitted to setting 2 wildfires in Nantahala National Forest, authorities say

Federal prosecutors say a North Carolina man is accused of setting two wildfires. The U.S. Department of Justice says 49-year-old Keith Eugene Mann Franklin was arrested Wednesday, November 30, 2016 on one count of destroying property by means of fire. According to an affidavit, a wildfire was reported on Oct. 27 inside the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County....

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Back to civics class: 10 things to know about Standing Rock

What writers don’t know about the world outweighs what we do know by a ratio of 100-1, at best. We get away with reporting the news as if we know something because, as Mark Twain noted, we do the legwork, we interview the colorful suspects, and we buy ink by the barrel. Then comes a sudden, confounding event like the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy at the Hunkpapa...

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Party Rock Fire officially 100-percent contained

Some good news for a change! The Party Rock Fire is now 100% contained. The much-needed rain over the region serves as a cool and refreshing sendoff for most of the departing fire crews. Crews came from far and wide to help contain the blaze. Oregon’s incident management team will return control of the fire back to the local North Carolina Forest Service district...

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Priebus confirms that climate denial will be the official policy of Trump’s administration

White House chief of staff may be “the second most powerful job in government,” according to James A. Baker III, who had the job under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. So it matters that the man Trump named his chief of staff, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, embraces Trump’s hard-core climate denial. Priebus appeared on the latest Fox News...

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Fires force evacuations in Gatlinburg, TN; Smokies park closes roads

Fanned by strong winds and the Southeast’s worst drought in nearly a decade, at least 14 fires burned in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, forcing evacuations from the popular tourist gateway and nearby communities. Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said crews battled wind gusts of up to 70 mph. On Monday afternoon (November 28, 2016), a wildfire from the Smoky...

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Land Grab Congressman Now Wants Trump to Abolish National Monuments

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a fierce anti-public lands Republican in Utah, is urging President-elect Donald Trump to abolish national monuments created by both Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. More than 270 million acres of American land and waters are potentially at risk—an area two and half times the size of California. The action would be unprecedented. No...

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China tries to build a coherent system of national parks

Roughly 18% of China is given over to national parks or protected areas of some sort. But there is no overarching system for managing or even designating such places; instead, they are subject to a complicated, overlapping and haphazard mix of local, provincial and national administration. Laoshan is a case in point. Since its establishment in 1991, its official status...

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Drought, Fire, and Forests

More than 6,300 firefighters from all over the U.S have been fighting forest fires that have now burned more than 119,000 acres in eight states across the Southeast, some of which have burned for over a month. The low humidity and lack of rain for more than three months in some areas has provided what Adam Rondeau from the inter-agency Southern Area Coordination Center...

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Patagonia to donate 100 percent of Black Friday sales to the environment

There’s nothing environmental about Black Friday. While one major outdoor retailer (REI) has elected to opt out of the day entirely, giving its employees a paid day off to spend outdoors, another has decided to opt in — but they’re doing things differently. This year, Patagonia will give 100 percent of its global proceeds from stores and online to grassroots...

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An Important Message from the Executive Director of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy About the Party Rock Fire

Dear CMLC Family, The Party Rock Fire has impacted our community, requiring some of you to evacuate your homes and endangering people, property and natural resources in the Hickory Nut Gorge. You are on our minds and in our hearts. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has held off up until now in sending out our own communications, while public officials have kept us all...

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A Modern Day Threat to the AT: The Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a proposed high pressure natural gas pipeline that would run from Wetzel county, West Virginia to a processing station in Pittsylvania County, Virginia spanning 301 miles of public and private land. Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC has been contracted to do this work for various energy companies including EQT Midstream Partners, NextEra US...

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An astounding 102 million trees have now died in California

Forest managers have never seen anything like it. Across California, an astounding 102 million trees have died over the past six years from drought and disease — including 62 million trees in 2016 alone, the US Forest Service estimates. Once-mighty oaks and pines have faded into ghastly hues of brown and gray. The biggest worry is that these dead, dry forests will become...

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The head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality wants states to choose which laws to enforce

The head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump last week, asking him to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency. The letter requests that Trump “return environmental leadership to the states,” “place a moratorium on currently proposed and new federal regulations,” “work with state governors and...

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Volunteers clean up the view along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Federal funding for the Blue Ridge Parkway has been flat in recent years, making it tougher to keep up with maintenance and litter control along the 469-mile road that traverses the highlands of Virginia and North Carolina. “The focus is more about how far those dollars go these days,” said parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon. “That gap gets a little bit bigger and harder...

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The North Pole is an insane 36 degrees warmer than normal as winter descends

Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic. It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed...

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Western North Carolina Counties Help Direct Firefighter Donations

Firefighters in western North Carolina greatly appreciate the donations they have received from community members and businesses. The generosity has been overwhelming for volunteer fire departments and Forest Service offices. In an effort to manage donated materials, North Carolina Department of Emergency Management, in cooperation with the Western North Carolina...

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Obama administration targets wasted revenue in new oil and gas rule

The Obama administration on November 15, 2016 finalized a rule to reduce the massive amount of leaking methane from oil and gas operations on public land, prompting an immediate response from Republicans who intend on reversing it. The new Methane and Waste Prevention Rule will decrease flaring — burning off methane at the site of extraction — by half. It will also...

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A wildfire burning through the forest of Chimney Rock is so strange, it’s baffling the experts

No one can remember a wildfire as peculiar as the monster gnawing through the gorge above the village of Chimney Rock. It burrows beneath swaths cut to contain it. It conjures unforeseen winds from the steep terrain. It dashes erratically this way and that, like a running back punching for open field. And never mind the frustration of fire managers – it has even spooked...

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Joint Information Center Opens to Provide NC Wildfire Information

A joint information center is now open to provide timely and accurate information about wildfires in western North Carolina and related issues. This one-stop information center will provide the public with updates on wildfires, evacuations and shelters, road and trail closures, air quality, current burning restrictions, and the schedule for public meetings for wildfires....

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Highly Skilled Firefighters Use Blasting to Remove Hazard Trees

Bug kill and severe drought conditions have weakened and killed trees throughout the southeastern US, including North Carolina. On the Boteler Fire, in Clay County, a tiny invasive insect—the hemlock wooley adelgid—has had a devastating effect on established stands of the magnificent eastern hemlock. Some of these trees are 20 to 30 inches in diameter and up to 100 feet...

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How An Unexpected Friendship With A Wolf Transformed A Whole Town

Despite their incredible beauty and their obvious similarities with our considerably tamer canine companions, everyone knows not to play with wolves. So when wildlife photographer Nick Jans and his Labrador encountered a wild wolf behind their home, adrenaline started pumping through them both. When the wolf approached the Labrador, Nick could only stand helplessly by...

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Inside the Arctic Seed Vault Designed to Save Humanity From Extinction

In the Arctic Circle, on the far-northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, a drab facility carved into the mountainside could be humanity’s last hope in the event of a global catastrophe. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a roughly 400-foot-long building designed to store seed samples for 4.5 million different varieties of crops from around the world, or 2.5...

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Court rules that children can sue the government over climate negligence

Oregon federal judge Ann Aiken has ruled that a climate lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of youths can move forward, a win for the strategy of fighting climate change through the judicial branch. Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based non-profit, has filed lawsuits in every state and at the federal level, claiming that the U.S. government’s actions...

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TOTAL FIRE BAN in effect for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina are implementing a TOTAL FIRE BAN due to the extremely dry conditions, high fire danger, and little chance of rain in the immediate forecast. Beginning on November 10, 2016, the following restrictions are in place for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests until further notice: Building, maintaining,...

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These maps help fill the gaps on the Dakota Access Pipeline

As protests escalated in North Dakota, Jennifer Veilleux sat in her office at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, reading an environmental assessment of the Dakota Access Pipeline over and over again. The report, prepared by the company developing the pipeline, raised red flags. An international water security and transboundary river post-doctoral...

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National Park Service Commemorates Veterans Day with Special Programs and Free Admission on November 11

In honor of Veterans Day, many national parks across the country are hosting special events, displays, and ceremonies to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces. The National Park Service will waive entrance fees on November 11, 2016. “It’s a special responsibility to be the stewards of the memorials, battlefields, and historic sites that tell the...

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The Bundy Standoff is a Sign of Things to Come

The acquittal of Ammon Bundy and other militia members who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon last January leaves our public lands and the people who steward them in a vulnerable position. Indeed, it puts a target on their backs. The Bundy family has said as much. “The government should be scared,” Ryan Bundy asserted to the Washington Post less than...

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Drought and wildfires plague a region typically known for its ‘rainforest-like’ climate

The Southeast is not a region that we tend to associate with wildfires. It’s humid, it’s wet, and twice this year deadly floods ravaged vast areas of two states — Louisiana and North Carolina. Yet here we are, talking about tinderbox conditions propelled by a historic drought and record-breaking heat. With little to no rain in the immediate forecast, fire restrictions...

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Mississippi’s Claim That Tennessee Is Stealing Groundwater Is A Supreme Court First

Sometime in the next few months, lawyers for the state of Mississippi will stand before a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed legal expert, clear their throats, and argue that Tennessee, a neighbor, is stealing water. However it is decided, the courtroom tussle breaks new legal ground and more. It is the first time the Supreme Court has considered a lawsuit that involves the...

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“Hey! We’re totally into clean technology now!” say major oil companies

If rumors are to be believed, Shell, Total, BP, Eni, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, and Statoil will join forces this week to invest in clean technologies. Sources told Reuters that the fund will focus on developing technologies to lower oil sector emissions, reduce methane leaks and natural gas flaring, increase car engine and fuel efficiency, and improve carbon capture and...

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