Research indicates high levels of microplastics in WNC waters

Jason Love got interested in microplastics by way of mussels. A wildlife biologist by education and training, he’d long been interested in the reasons behind the decline of Southern Appalachian mussel species, and in particular that of the federally endangered Appalachian elktoe. He was interested while working in his previous position as site manager for Coweeta...

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Farmworkers are risking their lives to feed a nation on lockdown

You can’t pick strawberries over Zoom. As strawberry-picking season kicks into high gear in April and May, farmworker advocates fear that a lack of worker safety protections, combined with a lack of access to health care and crowded living conditions, could lead to a major COVID-19 outbreak in farmworker communities across California. As other crops are harvested...

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As temperatures rise, Arizona sinks

Arizona is sinking. The combination of groundwater pumping and warmer temperatures is shrinking aquifers and lowering water tables. And as the land subsides, fissures open, 2-mile wounds that devour infrastructure and swallow livestock. Four of Arizona’s five economic pillars — cattle, cotton, citrus and copper — use huge amounts of water, while the fifth, the state’s...

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It’s Important to Keep Talking About Climate Change Now

In the midst of a pandemic with an immediate and visible toll on human life and the economy, other ongoing crises have fallen lower on the public’s radar. But environmentalists are finding ways to keep climate change relevant by advocating loudly for an agenda that protects people as well as the planet. A consensus seems to be emerging from environmental groups that...

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The deep science state

Since President Trump took office in 2017, environmental protection has been under assault. As of December, 2019, the administration had completed at least 58 rollbacks of environmental rules. The good news is that government scientists and lawyers are inserting statistics and data about the dire consequences of proposed rule changes into the technical documents that...

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Keeping the doorstep green: Canton likely to receive 448 acres for outdoor rec

  If all goes as planned, Canton, NC will soon have a 448-acre park for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor recreation activities just a mile from town limits. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hopes to close on the property, known as the Chestnut Mountain Tract and currently owned by Canton Motorsports LLC, within the next couple months....

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Is life during coronavirus how we will live during climate change?

So will this animation around COVID-19 translate to a climate revolution? The difficult thing about climate change, versus coronavirus, is that, until very recently, it appeared to be a far-off probability versus an impending threat. It’s really hard to get people to do things that are challenging or even just inconvenient to preemptively address a distant, not-certain...

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The Leave No Trace Recommendations for Getting Outside During Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly altering our daily life. It is important to be aware of the most current information from the CDC on these changes, and that goes for changes to the way we spend time outside as well. To keep ourselves, our communities, and our outdoor spaces safe and healthy during this time, please consider these recommendations. Where COVID-19 is...

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How To Be A Climate Activist During The Coronavirus Pandemic

April was supposed to be a huge month for climate action. The plan was to have a month of global mobilization with thousands of protests and events planned by almost 1 million different organizations working together. Activists had hoped to build on the success of last September’s worldwide climate strikes, which saw 8 million people take to the streets to demand action....

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Spring Wildflowers on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The promise of refreshing walks in the woods, colorful blooms, and a greener landscape on the Blue Ridge Parkway are bright spots during these stressful times. If you’re headed out to appreciate the diverse wildflowers that herald the season’s arrival, here are tips for the best viewing and staying safe. To plan your wildflower excursions, look to the trees for signs of...

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The National Park Service is selling out to telecom giants

There aren’t many places people can go these days to escape completely from the ubiquitous influence of social media, smartphones, Big Tech and telecom companies. The blank spots on the coverage maps are constantly shrinking, though not equally, and not everywhere. In many cases, the expansion of broadband coverage is necessary; telecom providers too often underserve...

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Bonneville Shoreline Trail runs into dispute between trail advocates and environmentalists

Utahns of all political stripes enjoy trails that connect their communities to the outdoors, but efforts to expand one of the state’s premier trails threaten to divide two groups of stakeholders that are normally allied on public lands issues: trail users and wilderness advocates. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which contours along parts of the Wasatch foothills, tracks...

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Transylvania County Tourism announces $100,000 toward Ecusta Trail

At the Transylvania County, NC Tourism (TCT) Board of Directors’ annual retreat, a motion was passed to set aside $100,000 from the organization’s fund balance for the development of the Ecusta Trail. TCT previously pledged support of the rail to trail conversion back in June of 2015, emphasizing the benefit that the trail would have on the community. After nearly a...

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Blue Ridge Parkway roads and trails swell to 15 million visitors in 2019, budget shrinks

Nancy Midgette, in her volunteer role as a “Craggy Rover,” acting as a helping arm to the Blue Ridge Parkway rangers at Craggy Gardens, learned she can talk for four hours straight. That’s about how long she spent talking to visitors on her four-hour shifts last summer at Craggy Pinnacle, just north of Asheville, pointing out the mountaintop names in the distance from...

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Great Smoky Mountains seeks hiking volunteers, ‘critical’ information

Do you love hiking? If so, the most-visited park in the nation wants your help. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to “adopt” sections of its many trails. Volunteers would hike at least one designated trail four times per year and tell the park what they see. The park said it would use volunteer input to figure out which trails...

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Over 6,000 acres added to Tennessee’s Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with The Conservation Fund, TennGreen, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced the addition of 6,229 acres to the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. In a TDEC press release, the organization stated that the land, known...

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The locked gate: Road closure decisions complex in the Smokies

Lisa Hendy is an early riser, and when it comes to dealing with snow days in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that’s a good thing. As chief ranger, Hendy’s responsibilities are many — but one of them is deciding when, if and for how long to close the roads when the weather gets bad. “Really what it boils down to is a combination of the forecast and observations on...

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The Great Smoky Mountains’ iconic clouds are helping to protect the region from climate change – for now

Long before the Great Smokies became a national park, its mountains peeked out among clouds of haze. The Cherokee called the mountains “Shaconage”: the place of the blue smoke. The iconic clouds in the park – on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee – are as important to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as glaciers are to Glacier National Park and Joshua...

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Acadia National Park is introducing a timed reservation system for visitors

The only national park in all of New England, Acadia incorporates both coastline and mountains and has a remarkably diverse landscape. There are scenic lakes and ponds to discover too plus plenty of picnic spots. It’s the seventh most visited national park in the US with 3.5m visitors annually, and in order to cut down on traffic and reduce overcrowding, visitors...

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Proposed Budget Cuts Target National Parks

The Trump Administration’s budget plan for 2021 proposes serious cuts to the National Park Service and other federal agencies that if enacted, would jeopardize the protection, maintenance and operation of our more than 400 national parks across the country. The administration’s budget calls for a total cut of $587 million (17 percent) to the National Park Service. The...

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DuPont, Friends seek input on management of wildly popular forest

Horse safety and the need for trailer parking, overcrowded hiking trails, the desire for single-track mountain bike trails and more trail etiquette education at DuPont State Recreational Forest are just some of the issues swirling around the much loved, multi-use state forest, which is entering its 20th year. The 12,000-acre state forest in Henderson and Transylvania...

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USDA Forest Service announces challenge to increase focus on problems facing nation’s largest public trail system

USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen today emphasized the need to find innovative ideas to tackle the nearly $300 million maintenance backlog on the nation’s largest public trail system. Christiansen called on individuals and organizations to work with the agency to address trail maintenance and sustainability to improve access, keep people safe, and support...

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Emails Show DOI Falsified Fire Data for Political Ends

Political appointees at the Interior Department have sought to play up climate pollution from California wildfires while downplaying emissions from fossil fuels as a way of promoting more logging in the nation’s forests, internal emails obtained by the Guardian reveal. The messaging plan was crafted in support of Donald Trump’s pro-industry arguments for harvesting more...

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U.S. Forest Service releases draft Nantahala and Pisgah forest plan for public comment

Drafts of the Nantahala and Pisgah forest plan and environmental impact statement (EIS) are now available. A formal 90-day public review and comment period is scheduled to begin on February 14,2020. The proposed plan is built on significant public engagement and the best available science to guide forest management for the next 15 years. It recognizes the multiple uses...

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Catawba conservation purchase to become part of new trail system

  A 68-acre conservation purchase in Catawba County, North Caroina is expected to become part of the planned Wilderness Gateway State Trail, which is intended to meander thorugh Catawba and Burke counties and along the Rutherford-McDowell county line. The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina bought the property from landowners Becky and Wayne Welch. It is...

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These southern Utah sites were once off limits to development. Now, Trump will auction the right to drill and mine there.

The Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, grazing and other forms of development across a broad area of southern Utah that used to be protected as two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. The decision comes more than two years after Trump dramatically cut the size of both monuments and will likely intensify a legal battle...

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2020 Great Backyard Bird Count

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the...

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Environmental analysis completed and decision signed for Twelve Mile Project on Pisgah National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service has completed the environmental assessment process and made a final decision on the Twelve Mile Project on the Pisgah National Forest’s Appalachian Ranger District in Haywood County, North Carolina. Once implemented, the project will help maintain a healthy and diverse forest that supports wildlife, provides a sustainable output of timber,...

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Utah Wanted All the Tourists. Then It Got Them.

Utah had a problem. Shown a photo of Delicate Arch, people guessed it was in Arizona. Asked to describe states in two adjectives, they called Colorado green and mountainous but Utah brown and Mormon. It was 2012. Up in the governor’s Office of Tourism, hands were wrung. Anyone who had poked around canyon country’s mind-melting spires and gurgling green springs knew it...

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‘This is a human tragedy and an ecological tragedy’

At Organ Pipe National Monument in far southern Arizona, the landscape’s ecology confronts its militarization: A migratory corridor collides with a wall, a natural spring could lose water to pumping for concrete, and both migrants and locals who cross the Borderlands are monitored and tracked. Here amid a sea of saguaros, standing tall like giant green tridents, and...

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