Conservation & Environment

Mount Mitchell: North Carolina’s first park growing, poised for future

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:56 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Mount Mitchell: North Carolina’s first park growing, poised for future

The Black Mountains’ Crest Trail scales the spine of the Black Mountains’ most prominent peaks in Yancey County – Mount Craig (6,645 feet), Big Tom Wilson (6,552 feet), Balsam Cone (6,611 feet), and Cattail Peak (6,583 feet), until now, the highest elevation, privately owned peak in the Eastern United States.

Thanks to recent events, the maps will change, with a piece of the jigsaw puzzle soon to be colored purple – indicating state-owned land for public enjoyment.

The Conservation Fund, a Raleigh-based land trust, has purchased 2,744 acres in the Black Mountains – 783 acres in the Laurel Branch Area and 1,961 acres in the Cattail Peak area, including Cattail Peak – adjoining Mount Mitchell State Park. The fund will convey the land to the state this year, timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the N.C. State Park System and Mount Mitchell, the state’s first park.

The land acquisition will more than double the size of Mount Mitchell State Park, which was 1,996 acres. The land acquisition has greater, more far-reaching importance, said Mike Leonard, Conservation Fund board chairman.

“By doing this, we are going to the highest, privately owned peak in the Eastern United States and close that privately held gap between the U.S. Forest Service and state parks,” Leonard said.

“We also got the opportunity to acquire lands from Cattail Peak going down 3,500 feet in elevation to the Cane River itself. This will make the park boundary for the first time from the base of the mountain all the way to the top. That much elevation is really important for climate resiliency.”

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Citizen Science is Sound Science Provided by You

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 @ 11:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Citizen Science is Sound Science Provided by You

Have you ever seen a cool bird in your backyard and wondered if there was some way to share what you saw with others? Better yet, have you thought about sharing your observations and having them used to help study and conserve those birds? These thoughts are an indicator that you might have the makings of a great citizen scientist.

The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service are engaged in a wide variety of citizen science projects that encourage public involvement in natural and cultural resource science and conservation. Volunteers can contribute by forming research questions, collecting and analyzing data, or interpreting results. If you have a sense of wonder and discovery, citizen science may be for you.

Citizen science can help in conservation and protecting natural resources in two ways: increasing scientific knowledge just like conventional research; and creating a conversation about scientific information and policy and to encourage public input and action.

Many scientific projects would be difficult to research without the help of volunteers because of their size, complexity, or cost. Volunteers can contribute in many ways including helping to track patterns in space and time of one or more parts of the ecosystem, or in the discovery of species or important cultural resources. At the same time, getting local communities engaged in projects can increase the relevancy of scientific research locally and can foster environmental stewardship. It can also build a better understanding between the community, scientists and decision makers about social aspects in environmental issues.

I have been involved in a citizen science project at Great Smoky Mountains National Park the past two years. It has been a rewarding experience, one where I feel my individual piece is contributing to a greater whole.

Learn more here…


Four Infographics That Show How Climate Change Is Affecting Your Health

Posted by on Aug 27, 2016 @ 6:50 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The dog days of summer were particularly dogged this year. July clocked in as the hottest month on record, marking the midpoint of what is likely to be the hottest year on record. With sweltering temperatures came a litany of crummy climate news — floods in Louisiana, Zika in Miami, searing heat waves across the Northeast — with dire implications for human health.

Last year’s Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change warned that the carbon crisis could undo the last half-century of progress in public health. And yet, for many, it remains unclear how climate change could land them in the hospital. Just one in four Americans can identify the ways that rising temperatures threaten their health.

To clarify that link, Climate Nexus and the American Public Health Association developed a series of infographics that illustrate the connection between climate change and all manner of life-threatening illness.

Let’s begin with air quality. Climate change is producing shorter winters and longer summers, extending allergy season. Warmer weather is also worsening pollution by fueling the formation of ozone. Heat and drought are setting the stage for wildfires, like the blaze recently seen in California, which produce smoke, threatening respiratory health.

Read full story…


Mega Work Day Planned for Pisgah Ranger District

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 @ 7:52 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Mega Work Day Planned for Pisgah Ranger District

The Pisgah Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service, and a host of supporting organizations have announced a broad based volunteer work day in the Pisgah Ranger District called “Pisgah Pride Day 2016,” which is being planned in conjunction with National Public Lands Day, September 24, 2016. Work crews will convene at different locations on Saturday, September 24, and will perform trail work, surveying and removing invasive species, trash removal, brush trimming, river habitat projects, and more. Afterwards, volunteers will gather at Oskar Blues in Brevard to celebrate the results, with a percentage of beverage proceeds going to The Pisgah Conservancy.

John Cottingham, Executive Director of The Pisgah Conservancy, stated “We are getting a great reaction from virtually everyone we talk to about this initial Pisgah Pride Day. We’ll have groups from the Carolina Mountain Club, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Horsemen, Pisgah Area SORBA, MountainTrue, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Muddy Sneakers and many others working in the forest to show our common pride in this wonderful natural resource. We’ll be doing everything from trail work to picking up trash, to polishing signs.”

Lorie Stroup, interim Ranger for the Pisgah Ranger District, is excited by the prospect of this first-time event. “For everyone who loves Pisgah this is a great opportunity to get out and show that love. Plus, it should be fun – we’re hoping for a great turnout and lots of great results.”

Volunteers do not need to be a member of any of the sponsoring organizations to participate, but must be signed up to work on Forest Service property. To sign up, go to Pisgah Pride Day 2016.

Pisgah Pride will also include a “Pink Beds BioBlitz” at the Cradle of Forestry that starts on Friday evening, September 23 and will continue on September 24. A BioBlitz is an event dedicated toward applying citizen science in order to identify as many species of flora and fauna as possible in a designated amount of time in a defined area. The Pink Beds BioBlitz will include surveys, nature walks focusing on botany, entomology, ecology, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mushrooms, and more. Devin Gentry of the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association said “We are excited to have our first BioBlitz in the historic Pink Beds valley on this 100th anniversary of Pisgah National Forest. This will be a chance for the armchair naturalist and local school children to get out in the field and participate in important, hands-on service projects.” For specific information on the BioBlitz you can visit Pink Beds BioBlitz 2016.


Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument Permanently Protects Mountains, Forests & Waters of North-Central Maine

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 @ 6:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument Permanently Protects Mountains, Forests & Waters of North-Central Maine

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, President Obama has designated Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the first national monument to preserve the landscape and honor the history and culture of Maine’s North Woods. The President’s use of the Antiquities Act to make this designation permanently protects 87,500 acres of lands donated to the National Park Service earlier this week by the Elliottsville Plantation, Inc., (EPI), including the East Branch of the Penobscot River and its tributaries, one of the most pristine watersheds in the Northeast.

This weekend, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will visit the national monument lands in Penobscot County, Maine, to celebrate the designation with state and local officials and members of the public. National Park Service staff will be on site to assist with the first steps to open the park.

“As the National Park Service begins a second century of conservation this week, the President’s designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument serves as an inspiration to reflect on America’s iconic landscapes and historical and cultural treasures,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through this incredibly generous private gift for conservation, these lands will remain accessible to current and future generations of Americans, ensuring the rich history of Mainers’ hunting, fishing and recreation heritage will forever be preserved.”

EPI is the nonprofit foundation established by Roxanne Quimby and run by her son Lucas St. Clair. Their gift of land is accompanied by an endowment of $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.

The new national monument – which will be managed by the National Park Service and is now the 413th park unit in the National Park System – is located directly east of the 209,644-acre Baxter State Park, the location of Maine’s highest peak, Mt. Katahdin (5,267 feet), the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The boundaries of the new national monument also include 4,426 acres of private land owned by the Baskahegan Company, which requested inclusion should the company in the future decide to convey its lands to the United States or a conservation buyer, on a willing seller basis, for incorporation into the monument.

The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation is the result of a years-long effort by Quimby and her son. Quimby purchased the lands with a portion of the wealth she created as a co-founder of Burt’s Bees in 1984, and developed the idea of gifting the lands to the American people as part of the National Park System. St. Clair, raised in Maine and dedicated to preserving the landscape and access for recreational activities, and a small EPI staff, have been operating the lands as a recreation area for several years.

“The National Park Service marks its centennial this week with a renewed commitment to tell a more complete story of our nation and to connect with the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Centennial and underscore our mission than by adding this extraordinary piece of Maine’s North Woods to the National Park System, and sharing its stories and world class recreation opportunities with the rest of the world.”


Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument


The new national monument includes the stunning East Branch of the Penobscot River and a portion of Maine’s North Woods that is rich in biodiversity and known for its outstanding opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. These and other traditional activities will continue to be available in the new national monument.

In addition to protecting spectacular geology, significant biodiversity and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change.

The new monument is also a storied landscape. Since the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the waterways, wildlife, flora and fauna, night skies, and other resources have attracted people to the area. For example, the Penobscot Indian Nation considers the Penobscot River watershed a cultural and spiritual centerpiece and since the early 19th century, logging has been a way of life. Artists, authors, scientists, conservationists and others – including Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau and John James Audubon – have also drawn knowledge and inspiration from the area’s resources.

National Park Service staff will hold a series of public listening sessions throughout the Katahdin region starting the week of September 12 to begin work on the management plan that will be developed during the first three years. Details of the listening sessions, including dates and locations, will be shared with local newspapers and posted to the monument’s website ( NPS’s planning will be done with full public involvement, with special emphasis on understanding the ideas and concerns of the local communities.

The approximately $100 million total gift to the American people from the EPI, was facilitated by the National Park Foundation as part of its Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.

“This extraordinary gift sets the stage for a strong and vibrant second century for America’s national parks,” said Will Shafroth, President of the National Park Foundation. “Through their vision and generosity, Ms. Quimby and her family are carrying on the philanthropic tradition from which the national parks were born 100 years ago, and which helped create Grand Teton, Acadia and Virgin Islands National Parks.”


National Park Service Director Leads Centennial Celebration

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 @ 12:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

National Park Service Director Leads Centennial Celebration

National Park Service (NPS) supporters, visitors and staff are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service this week at 413 parks nationwide. The NPS is inviting everyone to join the celebration by visiting a national park this week.

To help everyone find a park to explore, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all 413 national parks from August 25th-August 28th, 2016.

There are hundreds of events taking place around the country to celebrate the Centennial in unique, fun and engaging ways. From enjoying a concert, to having “Lattes with Lincoln” in Washington D.C., to taking nature hikes or attending historical presentations, to joining NPS staff in forming a living version of the National Park Service’s iconic arrowhead emblem, visitors can be a part of the commemoration wherever they may be.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis is celebrating the Centennial at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park, is hosting “An Evening at the Arch” on August 25th at 7 p.m. MDT. Director Jarvis will join Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, and other distinguished guests and performers as they kick off the second century of the National Park Service, highlight the importance of the partnerships, and recognize the completion of the first phase of restoring the park’s iconic Gardiner Gateway.

Here are just a few of the centennial events taking place in our national parks this week:

Living National Park Service Emblem: More than 1,000 participants will be assembled into a living arrowhead at the base of the Washington Monument onAugust 25th between 9 and 11 a.m. using brown, green and white umbrellas. This event is expected to create the world’s largest National Park Service arrowhead.

Naturalization Ceremonies: Today, National Park Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will hold naturalization ceremonies in seven national parks: Biscayne National Park, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trial, Grand Canyon National Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

Explorer to Explorer with International Space Station: Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park will speak with Astronaut Kate Rubins, a crewmember onboard the International Space Station. This event is scheduled to take place on September 3rd at approximately 11:20 a.m. PST.

Find Your Park on Fremont Street in Las Vegas: Videos and digital displays highlighting national parks will play throughout tomorrow evening on a 1500’x90′ digital display as part of the Fremont Street Experience, in partnership with Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Grand Canyon National Park Founders Day Celebration: Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will host a park-wide celebration throughout the weekend with food, special programs, a train exhibit, a naturalization ceremony, and a concert.


Climate change will mean the end of national parks as we know them

Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 @ 11:57 am in Conservation | 0 comments

After a century of shooing away hunters, tending to trails and helping visitors enjoy the wonder of the natural world, the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job – slowing the all-out assault climate change is waging against national parks across the nation.

As the National Park Service (NPS) has charted the loss of glaciers, sea level rise and increase in wildfires spurred by rising temperatures in recent years, the scale of the threat to US heritage across the 412 national parks and monuments has become starkly apparent.

With the National Park Service centennial this week, their efforts to chart and stem the threat to the country’s history faces a daunting task. America’s grand symbols and painstakingly preserved archaeological sites are at risk of being winnowed away by the crashing waves, wildfires and erosion triggered by warming temperatures.

Receding ice, extreme heat and acidifying oceans are morphing America’s landscapes and coasts at a faster pace than at any time in human history.

“We are starting to see things spiral away now,” said Gregor Schuurman, an ecologist at the NPS climate change response program. “We are going to look back at this time and actually think it was a calm period. And then people will start asking questions about what we were doing about the situation.”

Read full story…


Emerald Ash Borer Infestation Confirmed in North Carolina

Posted by on Aug 23, 2016 @ 4:28 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Emerald Ash Borer Infestation Confirmed in North Carolina

Forest health officials with the U.S. Forest Service have discovered declining ash trees due to infestation by the emerald ash borer (EAB) whose presence was confirmed on the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest and on private lands along the French Broad River from the Tennessee state line to Marshall, NC.

Decline and death of ash from EAB occurs in a relatively short period of time (one to two years). Ash tend to become brittle very soon after they are killed leading to mid stem failures of trees in the infested area likely beginning within the next year. Hazard tree mitigation for EAB-killed ash trees should begin as soon as possible after the tree dies. Hazard tree migration for EAB affected ash is generally much safer when trees are removed as they die as opposed to when they reach full mortality and become very unstable.

The U.S. Forest Service will focus hazard mitigation work on ash trees located in developed recreation areas like campgrounds and picnic areas though affected trees will be present throughout the forest. Forest visitors should be cautious along roads and trails as the ash mortality is likely to be high in affected areas across the district. Check your surroundings before placing your tent or resting under a tree canopy.

Avoid dense patches of dead trees. Be vigilant and look up for trees with broken limbs or tops as you drive forest roads or hike forest trails especially in windy conditions. Trees and branches can fall at anytime but are much more likely during wind events or following ice or snowstorms.

Adult EAB beetles are metallic green, about 1/2-inch long, and attack only ash trees leaving a D-shaped hole when they emerge from the tree in spring. Individual trees can be saved if they are chemically treated before decline symptoms are present. More information is available at

Transporting firewood can spread harmful insects including the emerald ash borer. You can help prevent the spread of destructive bugs and diseases by following a few simple rules:

– Don’t bring your own firewood to campgrounds or other forested areas.
– Obtain firewood from the forest in which you are camping or from a nearby vendor.
– If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.


Turning 100: Major Milestones in the National Park Service

Posted by on Aug 23, 2016 @ 7:23 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Turning 100: Major Milestones in the National Park Service

For a century, the National Park Service has protected our nation’s treasures. Every day, it works to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy national parks – places that belong to all Americans. As we celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday this week, check out the top moments in the National Park Service’s history.

  • 1864: The birth of the national park idea.
  • 1872: The world’s first national park.
  • 1906: The first national park to preserve our culture.
  • 1916: National Park Service is born.
  • 1916: Bringing national parks to the East Coast.
  • 1933: Becoming America’s storyteller.
  • 1933-1942: Putting people to work in national parks.
  • 2016: From 35 to more than 400 national parks.

Get more details here…


“Smoke waves” from wildfires are getting worse — and getting more people sick

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 @ 11:51 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Shrouded by smoke from a fire in California’s parched San Bernardino Mountains, schools in the Victor Valley closed their doors earlier this month. The Pilot Fire was contained eventually — shortly before the Blue Cut Fire broke out, billowing soot and ash over the valley afresh, forcing further closures.

As the district warned valley residents to “limit time spent outdoors” and to seek medical care for respiratory ailments, school and health clinic closures and canceled sporting events were reminders that health impacts from wildfires carry further than the flames.

In the West, where populations living near forests and scrublands are growing, global warming is projected to fuel worsening wildfires, mostly by drying out the land. Research published recently showed how those forces will combine to cause wildfire pollution to threaten tens of millions more people during the years ahead.

Researchers have taken to using the term “smoke wave” to describe the type of multi-day impacts from wildfire pollution that were experienced this month in the Victor Valley.

Scientists from Yale and Harvard calculated that 82 million residents of the West will experience smoke waves that are two days or longer during a six-year period beginning in the late 2040s. That’s a 44 percent increase from a six-year period last decade.

Read full story…


The Forest Health Advisory System

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 @ 7:45 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Do you want to know what pests are affecting the health of the trees on the national lands you visit or live near?

The Forest Health Advisory System developed by U.S. Forest Service Forest Health Protection highlights potential future activities of more than 40 major forest pests and pathogens across 1.2 billion acres of U.S. forestland.

Through a simple web interface, you can actually create an advisory on the national land you’re interested in, whether it’s a national forest, national park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife unit, or tribal land.

The advisory includes background information on the survey status of the land, information about the most prevalent pests, potential risks and threats, layered maps showing potential loss of trees due to pests, and possible management strategies in relation to specific threats.



The Antiquities Act and America’s National Parks

Posted by on Aug 20, 2016 @ 7:17 am in Conservation | 0 comments

As Americans anticipate family vacations, many are planning trips to our nation’s iconic national parks, such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, Acadia and Olympic. But they may not realize that these and other parks exist because presidents used their power under the Antiquities Act, enacted on June 8, 1906, to protect those places from exploitation and development.
The Conversation

The Antiquities Act has saved many special places, but at times its use has angered nearby communities. Some critics argue that presidents have used the act to restrict natural resource development. Others simply do not like the fact that the president has such power – even though Congress gave it to presidents by passing the law.

While the Antiquities Act has played a crucial role in the growth of our national park system, it has become a flashpoint for disputes from Alaska to Maine over protection and use of public lands. For that reason, it works best when it is not used arbitrarily or too often, and when the public understands and supports its use.

The Antiquities Act was passed to conserve the stunning archaeological treasures of the American Southwest. As settlers, prospectors, ranchers and explorers pushed into the region in the late 1800s, they discovered unique and spectacular sites left by ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the area from about A.D. 700 to 1600. Examples included dwellings such as the Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House at what would eventually become Mesa Verde National Park.

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Alaska Native village votes to relocate in the face of rising sea levels

Posted by on Aug 19, 2016 @ 7:35 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The coastal village of Shishmaref, Alaska, voted to relocate due to climate change–induced rising sea levels, according to the city council secretary. The community is home to about 600 people, most of whom are Inupiat Inuit, and welcomed votes from tribal and non-tribal residents alike.

This isn’t the first time the village has voted to relocate. In 2002, residents chose to leave for the mainland, but a lack of federal funds made that impossible. The U.S. Department of the Interior has made $8 million available for all tribes seeking relocation — that’s far short of the estimated $200 million the village needs to move.

The sea ice used to protect Shishmaref, which is built on a barrier island and largely inhabited by members of the Inupiat Inuit tribe. But now that the ice is melting, the village is in peril from encroaching waves, especially as the permafrost on which it is built is thawing, and crumbling beneath the mostly prefabricated houses. Barricades and sea walls have had little effect. Shishmaref could be the first town in the U.S. to move because of climate change.

Due to a lack of state and federal funding, the village will have to figure out a creative process to relocate. “It’s not going to happen in our lifetimes,” the council says. “We just want to take the right steps forward for our children.”



America’s natural heritage

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 @ 10:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments

America’s natural heritage

National parks are the “spacious skies” and “mountain majesties” of elementary school choirs. They’re living postcards from adventurers who had the foresight to preserve natural wonders for those who followed.

The 59 U.S. parks are stark and arid, elevated and lush, watery and forbidding. They’re wild. And perhaps most important, they’re common ground. The vast acreage managed by the National Park Service may be the only place where chasms unite us. Park Service lands are as diverse as the visitors they serve and the flora, fauna, ground and water they protect.

National parks are an American superlative — beautiful to the extreme.

When describing Great Smoky Mountains National Park, famed Appalachian Horace Kephart wrote, “The dreamy blue haze … that ever hovers over the mountains … softens all outlines, and lends a mirage-like effect of great distance to objects that are but a few miles off.”

As the National Park Service turns 100, here is a look at 59 wonders it works to preserve…


Rocky Flats: A Wildlife Refuge Confronts its Radioactive Past

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 @ 11:05 am in Conservation | 0 comments

A barn owl bursts from the tall prairie grasses. Elk skitter among cottonwood trees near an old stagecoach halt. A shrew crosses a track and hurtles into milkweed, where monarch butterflies feed. Somewhere amid the rare xeric grasses are coyotes, moose, mule deer, a handful of endangered Preble’s meadow jumping mice, and more than 600 plant species.

“Welcome,” says David Lucas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “to Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.”

The place is undeniably beautiful, one of the best exurban wildlife reserves in the United States, an oasis of prairie biodiversity on the outskirts of Denver. And the federal government is preparing to open it up to the public as early as December 2017, once the visitors’ center is built and the planned nearly 20 miles of biking and hiking trails are complete.

In a previous life, Rocky Flats was a secret place, where over almost four decades Dow Chemical and Rockwell International, as contractors working for the U.S. government, turned plutonium from military reactors into an estimated 70,000 grapefruit-sized triggers at the heart of hydrogen bombs. Few installations were as important during the Cold War as the Rocky Flats Plant, which operated from 1952 to 1989. And by all accounts, preventing plutonium pollution of the surrounding environment, including that of the people of Denver, was low on the list of priorities.

Read full story…


NASA: Searing July 2016 Was ‘Absolutely The Hottest Month’ On Record

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 @ 12:03 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Yes, it’s hot out there thanks to global warming. NASA reports that last month was the hottest July on record.

That follows the hottest June on record, hottest May, April, March, February, and January. It’s almost like there is a pattern….

How hot was it last month? Parts of the Arctic and Antarctic averaged as high as 7.7°C (13.9°F) above average. No wonder we’ve seen records broken for the melting of the ice sheets and Arctic sea ice.

It was so hot that Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, tweeted, “July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began.”

Since we may now be entering a La Niña that temporarily cools part of the Pacific Ocean, we may not set any more monthly records this year. But Schmidt wants you to know that there’s “still 99% chance of a new annual record in 2016.”



A Refuge in the Mountains

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 @ 11:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park creates space for wildness, adventure, and imagination.

When you think of the Smoky Mountains, think of refuge. The Smokies are a refuge for dreams of freedom, of unimpeded rambling, adventure, and of the faraway that was contained within the nearby, a refuge for magic, for wildness, for the imagination.

Wilderness is like that. It seems to have more space and time within it, which means a different experience of being on Earth can be had. It opens up alternate realities.

A sanctuary for an against-the-grain narrative, some other story that doesn’t emphasize linear “progress” but rather circular time, continually transforming and transformative. The richness of quiet and rotting logs. Refuge for a different value system.

The Smokies also provide refuge for the ancient trees — the park contains the largest stand of old-growths east of the Mississippi and the largest block of virgin red spruce on earth.

The mountains are home to the world’s greatest variety of salamanders, more than 1,500 species of flowering plants, more than 50 fern species, around 500 species of bryophytes, mosses, and liverworts (nearly 200 of them considered rare) and as many tree species as are found on the entire European continent.

They house the densest black bear population in the East. Almost 3,000 miles of streams contain a varied abundance of fish and invertebrate aquatic life. Refuge for all these.

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