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,...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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%....

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

‘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...

Learn More

Interior denies all of New Mexico’s proposed LWCF projects

After cheering the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), New Mexico wildlife and conservation advocates were shocked to learn every single project proposed to the Department of Interior for LWCF funds was rejected. The LWCF, created by Congress in 1965 to support public land management...

Learn More

‘Worst work in the world’: US park rangers grapple with tide of human waste

At national parks across the US, from the peaks of Denali in Alaska to desert backpacking destinations in Utah and Arizona, managers have struggled to deal with this inevitable byproduct of people eager to get outdoors, a desire that continues amid the pandemic. Unlike a discarded Clif Bar wrapper, human waste carries a slew of bacteria and pathogens when left unbagged...

Learn More

Oil and gas vets want to clean up the industry’s mess, one well at a time

There were more than 50,000 wells on state cleanup lists across the country in 2018, and states estimated there were somewhere between 200,000 to 750,000 more abandoned wells that weren’t in their records. If you include wells that are “idle,” meaning they may still have an owner but haven’t produced any oil or gas in years — and are at risk of getting thrust into state...

Learn More

Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, 2020 about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS. Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to a Biennial Plan of...

Learn More

Wonders Of Sand And Stone: A History Of Utah’s National Parks And Monuments

The southern half of Utah is canyon country, a land of aridity, sparse vegetation, and unique and scenically spectacular topography and geology. It is a land rich in sites of archaeological importance and parts of it are sacred to indigenous people. It is also mostly public land, owned by the American people, part of their national legacy, and for a century it has been...

Learn More

The Story Behind the Growing Number of Tribal National Parks

This week brought with it the announcement of a new national park, one which will eventually encompass 444 acres on the border of Nebraska and Kansas. The governing body setting this new park up isn’t the National Park Service, however; instead, it’s being established by the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. The Ioway Tribal National Park “will overlook a historic...

Learn More

20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost

Global warming isn’t the only reason the West is burning. The growing number of people in the woods has increased the likelihood of human-caused ignitions, while more than a century of aggressive fire suppression has contributed to the fires’ severity. In addition, unchecked development in fire-prone areas has resulted in greater loss of life and property. Yet, it’s...

Learn More

Federal money coming to WNC public lands

Public lands in Western North Carolina are set to get a chunk of the $9.5 billion approved for deferred maintenance projects with the ratification of the Great American Outdoors Act. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service both released project lists last week. Hailed as the largest single investment in public lands in the nation’s history, the bipartisan act...

Learn More

The UK will get more national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Some of the UK’s most breathtaking landscapes will be turned into national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to help protect the country’s rich biodiversity, the government has announced. As part of their 25-year Environment Plan, the project is expected to restore the equivalent of 30,000 football pitches into wildlife-rich habitats, clean...

Learn More

DPS Crew Discovers Mysterious Monolith From Air In Remote Utah Wilderness

The Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was assisting Utah Division of Wildlife Resource officers counting bighorn sheep when the crew spotted something mysterious from above. “One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” said pilot Bret Hutchings. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn...

Learn More

Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina

Announcing Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina, the only organization dedicated to the state’s resplendent falling water. Waterfalls are among the few natural wonders that excite all five of our senses at once. We feel the spray against our skin. We hear the calming sound of the falling water. We smell and taste the moisture in the air. And, of course, we see the sublime...

Learn More

Microplastics found at the highest point on Earth as the glaciers around Mount Everest’s death zone melt

Microplastics are one of the most harmful side effects of humans using the planet, and they’re increasingly being found in hard to reach planes. After being detected in the deepest point on the Earth, the Marina Tech, microplastics have now been found near the Earth’s highest point — the death zone of Mount Everest. It’s called the ‘death...

Learn More

Conserving Carolina reaches deal to buy rail line for Ecusta Trail

Hendersonville, NC-based land conservancy Conserving Carolina has reached an agreement to buy the railroad line from Hendersonville to Brevard, marking a major leap forward in plans for the 19-mile Ecusta Trail. In a move that was crucial, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday authorized a $7 million bridge loan that will make the sale possible....

Learn More

What’s That Cloud? Your Guide to Cloudspotting

Clouds are grouped into 10 different genera, organized based on shape and the altitude where they’re found. The genera names are all formed from the same five latin terms — cirro, cumulo, strato, nimbo, alto — which are mixed and matched to create names like cumulonimbus, cirrostratus, cirrocumuus…. you get the idea. Learning what each of these Latin roots means is key...

Learn More

Cleanest air on record: Pandemic accelerates long-term move toward cleaner air in N.C.

When President Richard Nixon ‘s signature on the Clean Air Act of 1970 prompted North Carolina to create its Division of Air Quality, air quality was bad in Western North Carolina. “Back in the ‘80s or the ‘90s, once summer hit your mountains would disappear,” recalled Jim Renfro, longtime air quality specialist for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “You’re...

Learn More