Effect of Recreational Trails on Forest Birds: Human Presence Matters

Recreational activities in nature have increased enormously in the last decades. This trend is raising concerns of researchers and conservationists about the potential impact of human recreation on wild animals. Humans are often perceived as potential predators by wildlife. Thus, when exposed to human presence, animals may react with important changes in their behavior...

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Hit the dirt and say happy birthday to the Continental Divide Trail

This weekend, one of America’s most prestigious trails, and one that winds through Colorado, turns 40 years old. The Continental Divide Trail, which runs 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, was officially founded in 1978, marking 2018 its 40th year serving as a beloved part of Colorado’s outdoor recreation. Hikers, horseback riders, runners, cross-country skiers,...

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Making tracks: Kids trails program earns recognition after decade of growth

In 2008, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation launched a new program aiming to get kids and families out exploring the high-elevation corridor. Ever since, the Kids in Parks program has mushroomed into a national endeavor with designated trails from San Diego, California, to Nags Head, North Carolina. Kids in Parks was recognized for its decade of accomplishments when it...

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First International Agreement Protecting Newly Opened Arctic High Seas

The Pew Charitable Trusts today praised the signing of an international agreement that prevents unregulated fishing in the high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years unless science-based measures are agreed upon and established. Delegations from nine nations and the European Union met near Greenland’s Ilulissat Ice Fjord to finalize the accord, the first...

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Veterans Day Is Fee Free at Our National Parks

Many national parks have direct connections to the American military—there are dozens of battlefields, military parks, and historic sites that commemorate and honor the service of American veterans. In addition, every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the...

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The Psychology and Science Behind How Hiking Trails Are Created

You can find a hiking trail or walking path almost anywhere in the United States, whether you’re deep in the backcountry or a few yards from a parking lot. Most casual hikers probably give them little thought before lacing up their boots, but hiking trails don’t just appear naturally. Sure, the popular pathways are created with shovels and sweat and grit, but...

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Widely Used Mosquito Repellent Lethal For Salamanders

Insect repellents containing picaridin can be lethal to salamanders. So reports a new study published in Biology Letters that investigated how exposure to two common insect repellents influenced the survival of aquatic salamander and mosquito larvae. Insect repellents are a defense against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and...

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Red wolves can’t be arbitrarily killed, federal judge rules

  A federal district court judge has forbidden the US Fish and Wildlife Service from allowing private landowners to kill nonthreatening red wolves, ruling that the agency has violated several sections of the Endangered Species Act. Chief US District Court Judge Terence Boyle ruled that the USFWS can no longer grant “take permits” except under extremely narrow...

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Ultimate guide to hiking Coachella’s hidden canyons

With all the chic midcentury galleries and groovy tiki bars populating Palm Springs’ downtown, you could easily spend a weekend hunting for Eames chairs and sipping retro cocktails. Browse and brunch all you want — no one will judge. But sooner or later, you’ll glance up at the furrowed hills that hug the city and feel an urge for something wilder. The desert does that....

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Halloween at Max Patch – A Photo Essay

Few places in the Southern Appalachians are more scenic than Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. Even more so when the magic of Fall coloring surrounds the mountaintop. You can see my complete trail report for Max Patch and Buckeye Ridge, and learn about an unexpected adventure I had a few years ago on my first...

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Come see forests and peaks, but clean up, New Zealand says

New Zealand has a message for the visitors drawn by its deep mossy forests, bubbling mud pools and magnificent peaks: clean up after yourselves. A new campaign called the “Tiaki Promise” is telling everybody traveling to the country to take responsibility for looking after it. The country wants visitors to pick up litter and otherwise take care of their surroundings so...

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Why do otherwise smart people do such dumb things in the great outdoors?

Two hikers died last week after falling from Yosemite’s Taft Point, located high above Yosemite Valley. What exactly happened is still unclear, but they almost certainly stepped off the trail, past the guardrail and passed warning signs before tumbling hundreds of feet over the cliffs. There’s been an exponential increase in the number of lost hikers, injured hikers and,...

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Yet-to-be-discovered dinosaur fossils may be at risk after Trump slashed the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante

Southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may have originally safeguarded untapped troves of ancient fossils, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented reduction of the monument has exposed vast deposits of these scientific treasures to potential energy development. Areas removed from the Staircase are nearly as rich in fossils as those that remain,...

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Startling new research finds large buildup of heat in the oceans, suggesting a faster rate of global warming

The world’s oceans have been soaking up far more excess heat in recent decades than scientists realized, suggesting that Earth could be set to warm even faster than predicted in the years ahead, according to new research published Wednesday. Over the past quarter-century, the Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than scientists previously had...

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900 acres of Little White Oak Mountain become public land in Polk County

Conserving Carolina made 900 acres of North Carolina’s Little White Oak Mountain public, donating 600 acres to the state to expand the Green River Game Lands and 300 acres to Polk County for a local park. Conserving Carolina said that together, the 900 acres of conserved land in Mill Spring protect views of a local scenic landmark, approximately 13 miles of streams...

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When nature hurls your garbage right back at you

As long as geysers are treated like garbage cans there remains the possibility of a trash eruption. Ear Spring geyser, located in Yellowstone National Park, had long been engorged by years of trash left inside of it by ill-mannered tourists. So naturally when the geyser erupted in September, unleashing its usual blast of searing-hot water and air, a nasty wave of dreck...

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Discover heart healthy hiking trails in Oklahoma

Fall is arguably the best time to get outdoors and enjoy physical activity. Autumn weather seems to create in us the urge to stir about for various reasons. The air is charged with the odors of the autumn season and one can feel and smell nature in its natural rotation. While squirrels are storing food for the winter, maybe we as humans are seeking a little food for the...

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Group hopes European style hiking in Cape Breton will draw in tourists

A group hoping to build a wilderness hiking trail in northern Cape Breton, Nova Scotia has now laid out its route. The Seawall Trail Society has just completed a proposed trail development plan, which would see the trail run for about 50 km from Red River, near Pleasant Bay, to Meat Cove, hugging the coastline most of the way. “It’s pretty epic,” said...

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WNC Public Asked To Report Hellbender Sightings

With fall fishing in full swing, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public, in particular hikers and anglers, to report any sightings of hellbenders (water dogs) to the agency. Reported sightings are an important part of a long-term inventory and monitoring project for hellbenders that agency staff, along with partners, began in 2007. Agency biologists...

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Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway to Open

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce the long-awaited section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, TN will finally open Saturday, November 10, 2018. The 16-mile roadway will be drivable for the first time since construction began in 1966. The route will include the 1.65-mile section known as the ‘Missing Link’ which is now...

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Mount Umunhum National Recreation Trail, California

The Mount Umunhum Trail passes through chaparral, under pine and oak woodlands, and over the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek. The trail emerges near the rocky summit revealing 360-degree vistas of the valley below, ridgelines, and nearby peaks. The mountain is sacred to local Native American people and is central to their creation story. “Umunhum” is an Ohlone word...

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12 books that are the perfect gift for your favorite hiker

As it turns out, Americans really like to hike. In 2016 the Pew Research Center found that half of Americans had gone on at least one hike the year before. And it’s not just hyperactive 20-somethings. Another study revealed that nearly every age group likes hiking the same amount. With numbers that widespread, it’s likely that you’ve got someone in your...

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A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor...

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The Sailing Stones of Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is a strange place by any standard. Famously known for being the hottest place on earth, Death Valley also sits at the driest and lowest elevation in North America. Its strangest feature of all is the mysterious Racetrack Playa. Here, rocks drift across the flat desert landscape, seemingly propelled by no power other than their own. Located on...

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Inside the New Battle for the American West

Deep in a box canyon in Utah, in the heart of the fractured land known as Bears Ears National Monument, there is a cave—a swooping, mineral-streaked alcove in a sandstone cliff. In December 1893 a rancher-explorer named Richard Wetherill pushed his way through dense reeds and discovered inside that alcove a stacked-stone ruin where a prehistoric group of Native Americans...

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The Oregon Desert Trail is just that, complete with canyons and rattlesnakes

Though Oregon is often depicted in terms of Douglas fir-filled forests, the truth is that half the state is a water-starved desert. It is pierced by the Oregon Desert Trail, a 750-mile, W-shaped path that weaves through the state’s most arid landscape. The trail shows off some of the state’s unsung attractions, including the Oregon Badlands, Lost Forest, Owyhee...

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Is Resistance Futile? Cigarette Butts Still Dominate Public Lands Litter

Smokers burn through 6 trillion cigarettes every year, and most are tossed into the environment. Butts contain microplastics and harmful chemicals, and new research suggests they may be directly toxic to wildlife. Efforts to curb butt litter have been largely futile. For the environmental advocacy group Surfrider, a plan to curb the littering of cigarette butts began...

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Blind Athlete Achieves Dream: Hiking Grand Canyon

Blind Paralympic cyclist Shawn Cheshire, 43, recently faced her biggest challenge — a rim-to-rim hike through the Grand Canyon. Cheshire crossed 68 kilometers of steep and uneven terrain, hiking through the night and finishing in 24 hours and 15 minutes — believed to be a record by a blind hiker. “The last couple of years, I’ve been on this desperate purpose of...

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Biodiversity Inventory Reaches 1,000 New Species Mark at GSMNP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its non-profit partner, Discover Life in America (DLIA), recently celebrated the 20th year of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) with the announcement of a major milestone of the project – 1,000 new species to science! Over the last 20 years, many species have been documented in the park for the first time, but the...

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The 7 most amazing pilgrimage paths you’ve never heard of

Pilgrims walked the St. Olav Ways in Norway from 1031 until the 1500s, when the Catholic pilgrimage was banned following the Protestant Reformation. In 1997, Norway revived the ancient routes and included signage for them. Today, you have your choice of six pilgrim routes, all of which lead to the impressive Nidarosdomen cathedral in Trondheim. If you’re unsure which...

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’Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss

Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating...

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Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown

Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and lentils. The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid...

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