Planning effort seeks to form WNC regional multi-use trail network

The French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization has a plan that would create a 150-mile-plus trail network through Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties in North Carolina that is now out for public comment. The group has been working with local governments and community stakeholders over the last year to develop plans for the...

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California condors return to Sequoia National Park for the 1st time in decades

For the first time in at least three decades, California condors were spotted in Sequoia National Park, an area that was historically part of the endangered bird’s range. At least six of the majestic scavengers visited the park in late May, including four seen flying near the famed Giant Forest and at least two near Moro Rock, a geologic dome and popular hiking spot, the...

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Renowned thru-hiker Ryan Sylva maps out new 1,100-mile route, the Great Basin Trail

Ryan Sylva, who goes by the trail name “Dirtmonger,” has been busy walking long-distance routes for about 10 years. A thru hiker of some renown, the 43-year-old Colorado resident first hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011, a feat he has since repeated twice. He’s hiked the Continental Divide Trail twice. In 2013 he completed a lap around the 3,500-mile...

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With Three Pipelines Down, the Future Is Looking Green

On July 5, 2020 it was announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which would have carried fracked natural gas through 600 miles of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, will never be completed. Pipeline owners Dominion and Duke Energy announced they were cancelling the fossil fuel project due to mounting delays and uncertainty. They said the many legal...

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Hiking with kids: Tips and tricks to make hiking fun for the whole family

For many nature lovers enjoyment of the outdoors originates from childhood experiences spending time outside with family and friends. Outdoor passions such as hiking can be passed from parent to child. Hiking can include long days in the sun, inclement weather and tiring exercise, which are not always conducive to making happy kids. Despite its challenges, hiking is a...

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Great, now the oceans are filling with COVID trash: Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer

Are oil companies the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic? That’s sure what they’d like you to think. In a recent flurry of “corporate reputation advertising” oil and gas companies, plus the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) — an industry group that counts Chevron, Exxon, Citgo, and many others among its members — put out a series of Twitter ads...

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Elk Return to Kentucky, Bringing Economic Life

On a bright morning early this spring, David Ledford sat in his silver pickup at the end of a three-lane bridge spanning a deep gorge in southeast Kentucky. The bridge, which forks off U.S. 119, was constructed in 1998 by former Gov. Paul E. Patton for $6 million. It was seen at the time as a route to many things: a highway, a strip mall, housing developments. Today, it...

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Important Pollinator: The Monarch Butterfly

The monarch butterfly is not considered federally endangered yet, however, studies have shown that the monarch populations are declining and are in need of protection. The monarch is commonly considered the “poster child” for pollinator awareness to help bring attention to the general decline of pollinators and insects. The monarch is a beautiful butterfly...

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What happens when an African American woman decides to solo-hike the Appalachian Trail during a summer of bitter political upheaval?

Heading north from Springer Mountain in Georgia, the Appalachian Trail class would have to walk 670 miles before reaching the first county that did not vote for Donald Trump. The average percentage of voters who did vote for Trump—a xenophobic candidate who was supported by David Duke—in those miles? Seventy-six. Approximately 30 miles farther away, they’d come to a...

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North Carolina climate plan released

After 11 months of stakeholder engagement and collaborative work, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has submitted the N.C. Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan to Gov. Roy Cooper. The plan was required by Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and is the state’s most comprehensive effort to date. Based on science and stakeholder input, it aims to address North...

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National Forest Watersheds, Imperiled Wildlife, Rural Communities Poised for a Much-Needed Boost

The U.S. House of Representatives announced the Moving Forward Act, designed to improve green infrastructure and reduce climate impacts. The Act includes a provision called the “The Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program.” This much-needed program will address aging and obsolete Forest Service transportation infrastructure to improve fish migration,...

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Zion shuttle returning in Utah’s busiest national park, but you’ll need a reservation

In recent years, Zion National Park has toyed with the idea of a timed-entry system to reduce overcrowding, but the proposal has never gone over well with Utah’s political leaders who helped scuttle such a plan developed for Arches National Park. Now the coronavirus epidemic is forcing reservation protocols upon one of Utah’s most popular and crowded tourist...

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Eastern Sierra Earthquake Sent Massive Boulders Crashing Onto Mount Whitney Hiking Trails

More than a dozen aftershocks continued to ramble through the eastern Sierra near Mount Whitney, forcing rangers to delay searching for possible victims and assessing the damage done to several popular hiking trails by a 5.8 earthquake that rocked the region. The initial quake struck in a rural area of the Owens Valley Fault System, which is known to occasionally produce...

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The Haunting Beauty of a Hut-to-Hut Hike in the Dolomites

  A monumental mountain range in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites — a World Heritage Site since 2009 — are home to some of the world’s most majestic scenery: colossal vertical limestone walls, gloriously green valleys. There are several Alta Via routes, but the AV1, with fewer exposed sections, is ideal for less experienced hikers. Mountain huts called...

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Antarctica’s ‘green snow’ is sucking carbon out of the air

Photosynthesis and Antarctica. It may not be the most intuitive combination, but the icy continent — famous for sculptural icebergs and marching penguins — is also home to communities of blooming algae, mosses, lichens, and even one species of grass. They’re rare, of course: Less than one percent of the entire continent is permanently ice-free to begin with. And what...

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Two Community Forests in WNC Receive USDA Forest Service Grants

The USDA Forest Service has awarded grants to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, from the Community Forest Program, which supports working forests that provide benefits like clean water, wildlife habitat, educational opportunities, and public access for recreation. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will use...

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Concern about massive ‘glamping’ resort proposed near Zion National Park

  A sprawling network of camping resorts called Above Zion could soon begin unfolding in the Kolob highlands on Zion National Park’s northern boundary, potentially resulting in an influx of overnight use in a remote and scenic part of southern Utah. Late last year, Ian Crowe, a St. George real estate broker, filed applications with Washington County officials...

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New kids track opens on the Palmetto Trail

The Palmetto Conservation Foundation has partnered with the Kids in Parks program to install a new TRACK Trail along the Palmetto Trail in Peak, SC. Children and families are invited to hike the new TRACK Trail, which was opened in conjunction with National Trails Day. The trail in Peak is located on a section of the Palmetto Trail called the Peak to Prosperity Passage....

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Your Guide to Hiking the White and Green Mountains

Any visitor to New England looking to escape to the mountains faces one major question: The Whites or the Greens? Both of the Northeast’s dominant ranges offer plenty of opportunities to explore but have markedly different environments. Steep and rugged, the White Mountains are concentrated in north-central New Hampshire, extending from the Connecticut River east to just...

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Over 1,000 trail projects are waiting for funding to help put Americans back to work

Trails have been an established economic driver for some time, with the outdoor recreation industry contributing over $400 billion per year to the economy. Now there are more than 1,000 trail projects in the United States waiting on funding to help put Americans to work building, maintaining, and improving our nation’s trails, and this number reflects only a fraction of...

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The 8 Most Endangered National Parks

The U.S. government has failed to protect our national parks in these times of disastrous wildfires, drying rivers, and melting glaciers. The parks also contend with pollution issues, budget shortfalls, a scourge of invasive plant and animal species, and now a global pandemic. In a controversial move made during the spread of COVID-19, Secretary of the Interior David...

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Estatoe Trail Extension Expands Brevard Greenway

The Estatoe Trail will soon extend to the historic Rosenwald Community in Brevard, connecting it with downtown Brevard and Pisgah National Forest. This new link in the popular Brevard bike and walk path will improve opportunities for pedestrian and bike travel within the city. It will also put Brevard a step closer to its goal of a greenway network that extends from the...

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Bureau of Land Management investigates a new Bundy ranch project

During his 2017 trial for charges stemming from an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service near Bunkerville, Nevada, rancher Ryan Bundy described a Western United States built by rugged individualists like himself despite heavy-handed federal interference. His speech to the jury lasted over an hour and evoked longstanding tensions...

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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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