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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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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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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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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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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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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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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#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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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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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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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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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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Grant to bring new mountain bike and hiking trails to Foothills Parkway in Cocke County, TN

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) announced a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will be used to design mountain bike and hiking trails along a section of the Foothills Parkway in Cocke County. The goal is to transform an area along the stretch between Cosby and I-40 to help increase tourism and economic development in Cocke County. “Cocke County is...

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Watch for giant hornets

The Asian giant hornet has yet to be detected in North Carolina, but the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is asking residents to keep an eye out and report sightings of the pest. The world’s largest species of hornet, the insects measure 1.5 to 2 inches long and have an orange-yellow head with prominent eyes, and black-and-yellow stripes on their...

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