U.S. Supreme Court clears way for pipeline to cross Appalachian Trail

Ruling against environmentalists, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the federal government has the authority to allow a proposed $7.5 billion natural gas pipeline to cross under the popular Appalachian Trail in rural Virginia. The 7-2 ruling was a victory for Dominion Energy Inc. and the Trump administration, both of which appealed a lower court ruling that halted...

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Plastic dust is blowing into U.S. national parks—more than 1000 tons each year

Remote wilderness areas and national parks in the western United States are getting a dusting of plastic every year, perhaps 1000 tons or more, according to a new study. Up to one-quarter of the microscopic pieces of plastic—which come from carpets, clothing, and even spray paint—may originate in storms passing over nearby cities, whereas the rest likely comes from...

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Toxic plants of Appalachia

Most white settlers here in the Smokies region avoided mushrooms like the plague. This was because their ancestors arriving here in America had found and ingested mushrooms that were deadly look-a-likes for species they had safely eaten in Europe. On the other hand, many Cherokees still gather and eat mushrooms with gusto. Through the years, they have learned by trial...

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Appalachian Trail reopens to day-trippers but urges thru-hikers to stay home

Back in mid-March, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail started shutting down sections and services to hikers of all ambitions. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), which oversees the 2,193-mile route, implored day hikers and “thru-hikers” to temporarily hang up their hiking boots. Last month, the organization revised its message and released guidelines that...

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The Best Hiking Baby Carriers, According To Family Adventure Experts

Hiking with little kids comes with all sorts of extras — extra planning, extra snacks and extra whining. But the joys of exploring the great outdoors with children, and the shared triumph of making it to the top of the hill, finding that hidden waterfall, or scoping out cool bugs along the path, is worth the extra hassle. To make the trek more enjoyable, invest in a...

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SAHC adds 448-acre Chestnut Mountain property in Haywood County

Chestnut Mountain is a unique habitat and clean water conservation project paired with exciting potential for outdoor recreation. Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has purchased 448 acres at Chestnut Mountain near the Town of Canton, NC, permanently protecting sources of clean water and forested habitat in an important wildlife corridor. SAHC plans to give the...

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Cades Cove now vehicle-free all day on Wednesdays

Cades Cove Loop Road will now be vehicle-free on Wednesdays beginning June 17,2020 through September 30 as part of a pilot study to improve visitor experience in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For several years, Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer have been offered as vehicle-free periods until 10:00 am so that cyclists and pedestrians can better...

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Italy’s New Hiking Trail Will Connect All 25 National Parks

Soon, avid hikers will be able to trek through all of Italy’s 25 national parks along one long trail. A new hiking trail that will connect all of Italy’s national parks, including those on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, has been announced. The Sentiero dei Parchi, or Path of the Parks, is already a staggering 7,000 kilometers (about 4,350 miles) and is expected to...

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River Running Through Zion National Park Will Be Protected Forever Thanks to the Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to the preservation of lands, animals, and rivers, has just purchased a large tract adjacent to the majestic Zion National Park for $4.3 million to preserve the ecosystem enshrined within the famous canyon. The picturesque 419-acre Utah property called Sheep Bridge includes a 2-mile stretch of...

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Tribal leaders question wisdom of reopening national parks without measures

Arizona tribal leaders told House lawmakers that moves to reopen national parks are being made without needed health safety measures to protect tribal members or park visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The comments by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Havasupai Council Member Carletta Tilousi come as the Interior Department is moving to reopen parks. That...

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Trump’s fossil fuel agenda gets pushback from federal judges

Federal courts have delivered a string of rebukes to the Trump administration over what they found were failures to protect the environment and address climate change as it promotes fossil fuel interests and the extraction of natural resources from public lands. Judges have ruled administration officials ignored or downplayed potential environmental damage in lawsuits...

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National Trails Day 2020

National Trails Day is held annually on the first Saturday in June (this year June 6th), and recognizes all the incredible benefits federal, state and local trails provide for recreation and exposure nature. Events held throughout the United States help promote awareness of the wide variety of services the trails systems offer. We’ve temporarily experienced life with...

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#BlackBirdersWeek takes on systemic racism

Sheridan Alford’s love of bird-watching stems from a simple fact: “Anybody can do it.” Old or young, through expensive binoculars or with the naked eye (or ear), in a bucolic park or from a city window, anyone can connect to the avian world around them. Alford, a graduate student in natural resources at the University of Georgia, studies African American participation in...

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The Trump Presidency Is the Worst Ever for Public Lands

Six hundred and forty million acres of land in the United States—about 28 percent of our nation’s total land area—are owned by the American people and managed on our behalf by the federal government. The foundational principle of that management is called multiple use. Public lands are used for resource extraction, but that extraction must be balanced with ecosystem...

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Representatives Case, Gabbard pursue first National Forest for Hawaii

U.S. Representatives Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard jointly introduced in the U.S. House H.R. 7045, a measure to pursue creation of Hawaii’s first-ever National Forest. The National Forest System comprises 154 national forests, 20 national grasslands and several other federal land designations containing 193 million acres. Its mission is to conserve land for a variety of uses...

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You Should Be Downloading Your Trail Maps

On most trips and in most locations, to navigate hikers rely primarily on my paper topographic maps, ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) or GPS watch, and magnetic compass. As both a backup and supplement to these tools, smartphones have GPS apps like CalTopo (good) or Gaia GPS (better), or AllTrails that you can use to access downloaded map data for offline use. A GPS...

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Hiking Guide Gives New Meaning to ‘Rails to Trails’

In many ways, “Chicago Transit Hikes” is like any other trail guide on the market. It provides information on trail length, natural features and highlights, and difficulty level. Options range from short walks that are great for people with kids in strollers to multi-day backpacking adventures, and suggested itineraries even include routes for “the social...

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Paradise Falls Hiking Spot Closed Indefinitely After Crowds Leave Behind ‘Truckloads Of Trash’, Human Waste

  A scenic hiking destination in Thousand Oaks, CA has been shut down after visitors left behind large amounts of trash and human waste, authorities said. Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park has been overrun with crowds “in the hundreds” in the past two weeks as the weather has started warming up and residents cooped-up by COVID-19 look to get outdoors. According...

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New Mexico Wild Launches New Online Hiking Guide Featuring More Than 100 Trails

New Mexico Wild has launched an online Hiking Guide featuring descriptions of more than 100 trails, at least one in each Wilderness area in the state. The New Mexico Wild Hiking Guide is the first known online resource dedicated exclusively to hiking trails in New Mexico’s Wilderness areas. The New Mexico Wild Hiking Guide provides a detailed description of each hiking...

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Tips for handling harassment on the trail

Numerous reports in recent years provide staggering numbers on the amount of sexual harassment in the outdoor community: A 2016 investigative report by the Department of the Interior showed that women in the rafting industry have been the victims of sexual misconduct for years; In a 2016 poll, Runner’s World found that 84 percent of women surveyed have been harassed...

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Microplastic pollution in oceans vastly underestimated – study

The abundance of microplastic pollution in the oceans is likely to have been vastly underestimated, according to research that suggests there are at least double the number of particles as previously thought. Scientists trawled waters off the coasts of the UK and US and found many more particles using nets with a fine mesh size than when using coarser ones usually used...

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All hikers trapped by rising flood waters at Devil’s Bathtub rescued

All hikers stranded by rising flood waters at a popular hiking trail in southwest Virginia have been rescued. According to Duffield Fire Chief Roger Carter, all of the hikers were rescued on trails around the Devil’s Bathtub before 10 a.m. Monday, May 25, 2020. Emergency crews responded to the scene around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. Emergency crews say 20 people were...

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On prairie hiking trails, social distancing comes baked into the experience

It’s not just out-of-staters finding a new experience at the vast Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. As the pandemic has shut down most other attractions and public spaces, more locals and first-timers are making their way out to hiking trails, which wind through some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie in the world. Randy Bilbeisi, superintendent at the preserve...

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How to identify different types of bees

When was the last time you were in your garden, saw a bee, grabbed it and squeezed it? Probably never, right? Unless you’ve done that, there’s a good chance that if you’ve ever been stung it wasn’t by a bee, said Becky Griffin. And she would know. Griffin teaches classes on bees to children and adults through the Center for Urban Agriculture at...

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Conservation easement protects resources in Macon County

  A recently conserved piece of land in Macon County, NC includes a federally significant marsh, a scenic view and a portion of the Nantahala River. Mainspring Conservation Trust has conserved more than 205 acres in the Rainbow Springs area of the county’s western portion, and that land is now part of a larger node of privately conserved property that totals...

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Do you need to wear a face mask while hiking?

Outdoor spaces have begun to reopen while the coronavirus pandemic carries on, bringing up an important question for hikers eager to get back outside: Do you need to wear a face mask while hiking? As hiking trails and other outdoor space reopen across the country, some researchers and medical experts, as well as state park officials, now recommend hikers carry face...

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Smokies air quality ‘noticeably clean’ during pandemic

The dark cloud created by coronavirus came with a silver lining: cleaner air and fresher streams. “We’ve had really good days,” said Jim Renfro, the air quality program manager for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “It’s been pretty clean,” Renfro said. “Noticeably clean.” There’s a reason the Great Smoky...

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This well-dressed trio serves free drinks on hiking trails, bringing joy to hikers

Talk about your fancy trail magic. What if someone was magically able to greet you with a refreshing beverage at the end of a strenuous hike? It’s not something you see every day. But that’s what David Weber, Jack Petros and Dylan Skolnik do. They formed the Summit Sippers, and even they say the concept is absurd. Dressed in suspenders, and even top hats, the...

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