Hawaii could soon charge hikers for the cost of their own rescue

State lawmakers in Hawaii are considering legislation that would make some hikers pay for their own rescue when they get lost or endangered because of their own recklessness. Senate Bill 700 would allow local governments to recoup the cost of search and rescue operations, which can run upward of $10,000. A second bill, SB 363, also working its way through the state...

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87 Acres on French Broad River in NC Protected

An 87-acre former sod farm on the French Broad River in Mills River could be the site of a new floodplain restoration, similar to the nearby Mouth of Mud Creek restoration. The property was recently protected with the support of savvy private investors who are using their money for conservation. In December 2020, Conserving Carolina purchased the King’s Bridge property,...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Newfound Gap Road Paving Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a paving project will begin this week on Newfound Gap Road along an 8-mile section of the roadway from Chimneys Picnic Area to Newfound Gap. The project should be completed by November 30, 2021, though work schedules are subject to revision as needed for inclement weather. Visitors traveling on Newfound Gap...

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A Dream Come True at Bryce Canyon National Park – A Photo Essay

I have always dreamed of seeing the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park covered in a fresh blanket of snow. Well, my dream came true, with Paula. I told you about the large snow dump that southern Utah had in the midst of our five day trip. It not only buried Escalante, but left a fresh powder at Bryce Canyon and Zion as well. My dream realized… and even better...

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The 48 Mountains That Held My Grief

By Carrie Thompson for the NY Times On the first day of 2020, my anxiety roared as I approached the summit of Mount Pierce in northern New Hampshire. At about 4,300 feet elevation, the wind was picking up, the visibility dropping to near zero. I was about to turn around in defeat when I heard faint voices ahead of me: two women, zipping up their coats as I approached....

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A Massive Snow Dump in Red Rock Country – A Photo Essay

Once all was said and done, the snowfall total was 10 inches. The snow started about a half hour before we arrived at our destination, the Slot Canyons Inn of Escalante, Utah. Paula and I planned a post Christmas 2020 trip to the national parks of Utah. Our home base was to be this centrally located, cozy bed and breakfast. By the time we were settled in our room there...

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Humans force wild animals into tight spots, or send them far from home.

The COVID pandemic has shown us that disruptions to the way we move around, complete daily activities and interact with each other can shatter our wellbeing. This doesn’t apply only to humans. Wildlife across the globe find themselves in this situation every day, irrespective of a global pandemic. Human disturbances, on average, restricted an animal’s movements by 37%....

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Snow Canyon State Park developing new trail to educate visitors about the desert tortoise

Supported by community fundraising efforts, Utah’s Snow Canyon State Park is in the process of developing a trail designed to inform visitors about the Mojave desert tortoise. The Tortoise Education Trail is scheduled to be the first new trail built within the park in more than a decade. The trail will showcase perhaps the most compelling and hotly debated creature...

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Exploring the Backcountry in Capitol Reef National Park – A Photo Essay

The best kept secret among the Mighty Five of Utah’s national parks, Capitol Reef is no slouch when it comes to dynamic scenery and backcountry adventure. It is remote for sure. You will likely find yourself traversing the landscape on dusty dirt roads with names like Notom Bullfrog, Grand Wash, Burr Trail Road, and Strike Valley. Following a lovely day at Goblin...

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Appalachian Trail thru-hikers again won’t be recognized this year over coronavirus concerns

  If you’re thinking about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail this year, you might want to think again. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is discouraging people from attempting to hike the entire 2,190-mile trail — called thru-hiking — and has said it will not recognize attempted thru-hikes until the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.” The group —...

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National Park Service implements coronavirus mask mandate on lands, federal buildings

Protective face masks are now a requirement for entry into a national park. The National Park Service announced its new mandate in a press release, which notes that the PPE requirement is in compliance with President Biden’s executive action that states masks must be worn on federal property, including parks and buildings. Mask wear is required for visitors, park...

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Hike from Austin to the Alamo: new 100-mile trail project underway

Central Texans may soon have a new outdoor activity available: hiking from Austin to San Antonio. The Great Springs Project is a local nonprofit that’s aiming to build a network of trails connecting the two cities and four springs: Barton, Comal, San Marcos and San Antonio Springs. “You’ll be able to hike or bike basically from the Alamo to the Capitol,” says Deborah...

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A Walk Among the Goblins in Utah – A Photo Essay

Believed to be evil, greedy, or mischievous, goblins are mythical creatures who bring trouble to humans, appearing in the folklore of multiple European cultures first attested in stories from the Middle Ages. Goblin Valley State Park, off Highway 24 at the San Rafael Swell in Utah includes an area where soft sandstone has eroded into interesting shapes, somewhat...

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Interior Announces Plans to Strengthen Land and Water Conservation Fund

The U.S. Interior Department took steps to strengthen the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by rescinding Trump administration policies that significantly undermined the landmark conservation program. Secretarial Order 3396 revokes an order signed on November 9, 2020 (Secretarial Order 3388) that unilaterally imposed new restrictions to inhibit the availability of...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces 2021 Plan for Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are extending a pilot project in Cades Cove by continuing vehicle-free access on the Cades Cove Loop Road on Wednesdays from May 5 through September 1, 2021. Park managers implemented this weekly, full-day opportunity in 2020 in an effort to improve the visitor experience and to reduce congestion associated with vehicle-free...

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McInnis: Land of Many Canyons – A Photo Essay

Located in the high desert canyon country of western Colorado, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area consists of approximately 123,430 acres of BLM-administered land near Fruita, Colorado. Originally known as Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area, the NCA was established by Congress on October 24, 2000. Internationally important fossils have been uncovered...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Cades Cove Road Projects

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Cades Cove Loop Road will be fully closed for three weeks in September 2021 to resurface the popular roadway which is used by more than 2 million visitors a year. The one-way road will be closed to all motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and horseback riders from Tuesday, September 7 through Monday, September...

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Coming Soon: A New Big Bend Hiking Trail

Future park visitors will have another opportunity to get up, get out and enjoy the wide-open spaces of Big Bend when work is completed on a new hiking trail next year. The Lone Mountain Trail will circumnavigate the base of Lone Mountain, an imposing feature just north of park headquarters at Panther Junction. After a long drive to Big Bend and arrival at Panther...

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Colorado National Monument: Above and Below – A Photo Essay

One of these days you are likely to look up and see that Colorado National Monument, along with McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, has become a full-fledged national park. The stunning scenery certainly qualifies. With the acreage included in MCNCA, the size is there as well. The combination of NPS units offers a myriad of front country hiking trails and...

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The First Day of a New Life: Four Corners – A Photo Essay

Ch-ch-ch-ch changes. David Bowie wrote of change in 1971, the year I was a freshman in college. For Bowie, it was a reflective song about stepping out on your own. I thought of that song and played it in my head as I sat down to compose this post. Not quite two months ago I made a major spontaneous change in my own life. I packed up a couple weeks of belongings and hit...

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Back from Hiatus

I’m sure you’ve noticed my nearly two month absence from posting here. Short story: I’ve been traveling and adventuring and building a new relationship. The good news out of all this is that I have tons of new content to share with you. When I left home it was very spontaneous and sudden, I didn’t take a computer with me. I decided not to try to...

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A new way to travel across the United States

The Great American Rail-Trail is the most ambitious biking initiative the country has ever seen. Stretching an extraordinary 3,700 miles from the nation’s capital across 12 states to the Pacific Ocean, west of Seattle, it’s an idea that’s been ruminating for 50 years. The Rail-Trail will connect more than 125 existing multi-use paths, greenways, trails and towpaths. An...

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‘A sisterhood’ | Group of women hike through life’s ups and downs together

For the past few years, Amy Eversole and the ‘Trailblazers’ have been hiking all over the Great Smoky Mountains. Some of them have earned their 500-mile pins from the park service. Others are following closely behind. All of them have been supporting each other through life’s ups and downs. “They’re the best women ever,” Amy Eversole...

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New access proposed for Graveyard Fields

Major changes may be coming to to Graveyard Fields. A project is now open for public comment. The National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service are partnering on this effort to improve access at the often-crowded trail system on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County. Under the proposal, the nearby John Rock Overlook would be used as an additional access point for...

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As pandemic worsens, NPS faces growing load of infections

At the National Mall in Washington, at least four National Park Service employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days as the pandemic hit its highest level yet in the nation’s capital. At Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, officials said they’ve had 28 confirmed cases within the park. And in California, parks this week once again started...

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New park coming to Henderson County, NC

Frank “Chief” Bell, Sr. was the founder of Camp Mondamin in Tuexedo, NC, one of the very first summer camps in Western North Carolina. Still managed by the Bell family, the camp is entering its 100th anniversary year in 2021. Not only did Camp Mondamin help four generations of children find their place in the natural world, it opened the way for the numerous summer camps...

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Best easy day hikes in Phoenix: 5 fun, scenic trails for beginners or advanced hikers

It’s the season where in Arizona we all want to be outdoors. The desert, so cruel for so long, welcomes us again with open arms. If the blast-furnace heat of summer kept you off the trails for months, you’ll want to ease into things. To work yourself back into hiking shape, start with some easy trails. Just don’t let the rating undersell their attractions. Even trails...

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‘It’s everywhere’: Graffiti vandals at Zion National Park harm protected land

As visitation at Zion National Park reaches record highs, park officials are asking for the public’s help as they grapple with a rising challenge: unprecedented levels of graffiti along the protected sanctuary’s most popular trails. “We take this very seriously, and it’s becoming a huge problem for us,” chief ranger Daniel Fagergren says. “It’s everywhere.” He says...

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