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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Smokies Park Recruits Trail Volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced several volunteer workdays beginning April 5 through April 28, 2018 along heavily-used trails and nature loops as the park prepares for the busy summer season. These opportunities are ideal for people interested in learning more about the park and the trails program through hands-on service alongside experienced...

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Hurricane Harvey’s toxic impact deeper than public told

More than a half-year after Hurricane Harvey flooded America’s largest corridor of energy and petrochemical plants, records show the storm’s environmental assault was more widespread and severe than authorities publicly acknowledged. Piecing together county, state and federal records, The Associated Press and Houston Chronicle catalogued more than 100...

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National Park Service warned lease sale could harm national monument in Utah

The Bureau of Land Management disregarded a request by the National Park Service that it hold off leasing 17,000 acres of public land in Utah because of concerns that drilling there could harm Hovenweep National Monument’s views and air, groundwater and sound quality. All 13 parcels were sold online as part of a broader sale, with the lease prices ranging from $3 to...

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Graphene is the most conductive material on earth; it could charge a cell phone in just five seconds.

Measuring one million times less than the width of a human hair, graphene is harder than diamonds and 200 times stronger than steel. Small, strong, and flexible, it is the most conductive material on earth and has the potential to charge a cell phone in just five seconds or to upload a terabit of data in one. It can be used to filter salt from water, develop...

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Former Senator’s Wyoming Ranch Purchased for National Forest

The Bridger-Teton National Forest has acquired a sprawling former ranch that had been the largest remaining private inholding along the Upper Gros Ventre River valley in northwest Wyoming. The $3 million purchase of the 990-acre property roughly 30 miles east of Jackson was recently announced by the U.S. Forest Service and The Trust For Public Land. The land had been...

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Easter Island Is Eroding

The human bones lay baking in the sun. It wasn’t the first time Hetereki Huke had stumbled upon an open grave like this one. For years, the swelling waves had broken open platform after platform containing ancient remains. Inside the tombs were old obsidian spearheads, pieces of cremated bone and, sometimes, parts of the haunting statues that have made this island...

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Lack of snowpack leaves the West hung out to dry

The lack of snow across the West this winter points to a parched summer ahead. In California, Colorado, and across the Southwest, the snowfall has ranked among the lowest on record. The last four months have also been among the warmest throughout most of the region. Parts of eight states are already under “extreme” drought conditions. Snowy, chilly winters are critical...

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At Bears Ears, Trump and Zinke ignored everyone but industry

In April 2017, Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said of former President Barack Obama and the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument: “In making this unilateral decision, our former president either failed to heed the concerns of San Juan County residents, or ignored them completely.” If Hatch were an honest man, he would say exactly the same about President...

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Microplastics are ‘littering’ UK riverbeds

According to a study that analysed sediments from rivers in north-west England, microscopic plastic beads, fragments and fibers are littering riverbeds across the UK – from rural streams to urban waterways. Scientists from the University of Manchester tested river sediments at 40 sites throughout Greater Manchester and found “microplastics everywhere”....

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Elkmont rehab work resumes next week in Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park crews will remove 10 buildings from the historic Elkmont site beginning today. The work marks the end of major demolition that began in 2010. The road along the site of the former Wonderland Hotel will be closed to pedestrians during demolition. Officials hope to have the work finished by April 30. Crews plan to preserve the buildings...

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Federal plan to auction mineral rights near Great Sands Dunes National Park opposed by environmentalists

Plans by a federal agency to auction off mineral rights on 18,000 acres near Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve to oil and gas drillers has placed Colorado at the center of growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s energy-production initiatives. Environmentalists want to block the federal Bureau of Land Management’s push to lease out the mineral rights...

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Fire and Ice: The Pacific Crest Trail in the Era of Climate Change

“Last year was the most challenging year we’ve had in terms of dealing with closures on the PCT,” said Beth Boyst, who for the last 11 years has been the trail’s chief administrator with the U.S. Forest Service (the PCT passes through all different designations of federal and state land, but USFS holds the lead oversight role). Boyst’s tenure has...

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Save our national forests with a simple fire funding fix

  It should be a simple nonpartisan fix to a budgeting issue that every year strips the U.S. Forest Service of its ability to adequately manage millions of acres of federal land and the trails, roads and structures that allow Americans to enjoy their forests. Instead, for more than two decades the issue has eluded common sense, mired in an unnecessary proxy...

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