RiverLink’s RAD Watershed Plan addresses Asheville’s most impaired waterway

Out of view of the paddleboards and kayaks that meander with the lazy flow of the French Broad River, an orange tube skims oil from a creek’s surface. The tube is a last line of defense preventing oil from flowing directly into the river. The creek is Town Branch, a waterway long believed to be the most polluted stream in Western North Carolina. “Many people still call...

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White Sands is the newest national park. These places might be next.

It’s easy to think of national parks as untouchable—grand, immovable fixtures in our natural environment. But in reality, they come and go: some lose their designation, while others are added. New Mexico’s White Sands National Park hit the big leagues in December 2019, becoming the country’s 62nd national park. It protects the largest gypsum dune on Earth, a remnant of...

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New Mexico’s Valles Caldera preserve acquires site with volcanic features

  A 40-acre site that includes volcanic features like steaming mudpots, sulfuric-acid hot springs and fumaroles — openings which emit steam and gases — has been acquired by the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Valles Caldera officials said the acquisition of Sulfur Springs “was critical to preserving the breadth of...

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Study finds 26,000 lives were saved by shift from coal to natural gas

The human toll from coal-fired pollution in America has been laid bare by a study that has found more than 26,000 lives were saved in the U.S. in just a decade due to the shift from coal to gas for electricity generation. The shutdown of scores of coal power facilities across the U.S. has reduced the toxic brew of pollutants suffered by nearby communities, cutting deaths...

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Trump admin writes itself a permission slip to ignore climate change and wreck the environment

The Trump White House’s Council on Environmental Quality is proposing changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would not only make it easier to keep the public in the dark about government projects, but give federal agencies a permission slip to ignore how their own actions might contribute to climate change. In short, NEPA makes the government...

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Mountain Bog Protected in Burke County, NC

  A 17-acre bog in Burke County is now protected for conservation following purchase by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. The Jonas Ridge property borders the Pisgah Loop Scenic Highway and was purchased from landowner Hazel Shell with funding from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Southern Appalachian mountain bogs are rare and contain...

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Things to know about Duke Energy’s proposed coal ash landfill at Asheville’s Lake Julian

As the Southern Environmental Law Center announced its historic settlement Jan. 2, 2020 with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to clean up coal ash at six North Carolina sites, Duke’s Asheville Steam Plant at Lake Julian is in the midst of a permitting request to build an industrial landfill on the plant site. The settlement, arranged on behalf...

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Land added to Haywood County’s Blue Ridge Parkway section

The Blue Ridge Parkway is now 53.3 acres bigger thanks to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s recent donation of the Pinnacle Ridge tract in Haywood County. Pinnacle Ridge is located at milepost 440 near the Waynesville and Village of Saunooke overlooks. Prior to its inclusion in Parkway lands, the property shared more than 4,000 feet of boundary with the...

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There’s been an apocalypse going on right under our noses – but we can still save their world

Have you noticed there are fewer creepy-crawlies around these days? Significantly fewer. In fact, over the past 50 years, an insect apocalypse may have killed off half of the planet’s bugs. It poses a serious threat. More than 40% of insect species could permanently disappear. Climate change, loss of natural habitats and overexposure to pesticides are among the factors...

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The Outdoor Books that Shaped the Last Decade

Digital media continued its march across the cultural landscape in the past decade, but its proliferation didn’t diminish the importance of books—even if these days we’re thumbing through real pages less often than we’re swiping pixels on our screens. Books challenge our perceptions and paradigms, provoke curiosity, and inspire action. And for many of us, engaging with...

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Special Report: Threatened And Endangered Parks

Special Report by National Parks Traveler National park units in the lower 48 states are being confronted, and in some cases overrun, by issues ranging from climate change and invasive species to energy exploration and overcrowding. Natural and cultural resources are being harshly impacted, and in the case of invasive species in South Florida, some native species are...

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Australian Prime Minister Dismisses Calls To Curb Coal Use As Wildfires Intensify

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on his government’s climate policy amid a record-breaking heat wave and a devastating weekend of wildfires. Hundreds of fires burned across four states, with the worst conditions in New South Wales, where approximately 100 homes have been destroyed in less than a week. More than 800 total homes have been lost since...

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White Sands becomes New Mexico’s newest national park

December 21, 2020 was White Sands’ first full day as a national park after President Donald Trump signed a bill designating the status into law. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which included North Korea sanctions and procurement for spacecraft and weapons, also made 275 square miles of gypsum dune fields into New Mexico’s second national...

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Microplastics contaminate snow, rain, researcher finds

Fibers of polyester and other pieces of microplastic have been found in dozens of snow samples taken over the past year from Big Sky Resort, Teton Pass and other Rocky Mountain sites. Bekah Anderson, a Montana State University senior majoring in chemical engineering, used microscopes and other specialized laboratory tools in MSU’s Center for Biofilm Engineering to...

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Smokies Park Reminds Visitors about Cades Cove Winter Closure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials remind visitors that Laurel Creek Road, the seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove, will be closed to all motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 5 through Saturday, February 29 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel. The full closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is...

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Goldman Sachs to spend $750 billion on climate transition projects and curb fossil fuel lending

Goldman Sachs, a major American multinational investment bank and financial services company, is overhauling its environmental policies, which includes pledging to spend $750 billion on sustainable finance projects over the next decade, as well as implementing stricter lending policies for fossil fuel companies. The $750 billion will focus on financing, investing and...

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The UN Climate Negotiations Are Officially a Disaster and the US Helped Screw It Up

Each year, the United Nations holds a conference on climate change to try to nudge the biggest polluters toward containing warming under well below 2 degrees Celsius. Now, that goal seems more fantastical than ever; the world is on track for the absolute worst-case, business-as-usual scenario of more than twice that warming by the end of the century. The stakes are high...

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Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Lawsuit Over Deadly Fire At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the National Park Service stemming from the deadly Chimney Tops 2 fire at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, holding that the park’s Fire Management Plan required that area residents be notified of the wildfire. When the Chimney Tops 2 fire was reported atop one of the many ridges of the...

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The Arctic may emit billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback

The Arctic is undergoing a profound, rapid and unmitigated shift into a new climate state, one that is greener, features far less ice and emits greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost, according to a major new federal assessment of the region. The consequences of these climate shifts will be felt far outside the Arctic in the form of altered weather patterns,...

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The world’s supply of fresh water is in trouble as mountain ice vanishes

High in the Himalaya, near the base of the Gangotri glacier, water burbles along a narrow river. Pebbles, carried in the small river’s flow, pling as they carom downstream. This water will flow thousands of miles, eventually feeding people, farms, and the natural world on the vast, dry Indus plain. Many of the more than 200 million people in the downstream basin rely on...

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A massive Canadian fossil trove reminds us how fleeting life on Earth can be — and how much peril we’re in

We ascend a sheer mountainside in the Canadian Rockies. Our destination, high on the cliff face, is a jumble of 510-million-year-old rocks known as the Burgess Shale. Formed during the middle part of the Cambrian period, the shale boasts tens of thousands of perfectly preserved fossils from the dawn of the animal kingdom. Many were soft-bodied organisms whose existence...

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Critical Wildlife Corridor in WNC State Natural Area Protected

In 2019, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) completed the purchase of an assemblage of properties in the Cane Creek Mountains totaling 456 acres, to permanently protect an important ridgeline corridor through the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area. SAHC’s acquisition of the land protects habitat for rare plants and animals, clean water sources and scenic...

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Conservation and Affordable Housing Fit Together at Little White Oak Mountain

What’s the opposite of saving land? For some people, what comes to mind is a housing development: the felled forests, bulldozers scraping over raw dirt, roads and buildings replacing trees. That seemed likely to happen at Little White Oak Mountain, in Polk County, near Columbus, NC. Not long ago, the mountain was slated for an upscale development of over 700 houses....

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‘Monumental’ NSW bushfires have burnt 20% of Blue Mountains world heritage area

More than 10% of the area covered by New South Wales national parks has been burned in this season’s bushfires, including 20% of the Blue Mountains world heritage area, state government data obtained by Guardian Australia has revealed. The amount of bushland destroyed within NSW national parks dwarfs that of the entire previous fire season, when 80,000 hectares were...

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A pipeline runs through it

The pink ribbons start in northern West Virginia. Tied to flimsy wooden posts stuck a few inches into the earth, they’re easy to miss as they whip in the crisp, fall wind. Heading south, they dot landscapes for 600 miles, marking the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They pass over cave systems and watersheds, climb up and down densely forested Appalachian...

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Exxon knew — and so did coal

“Exxon knew.” Thanks to the work of activists and journalists, those two words have rocked the politics of climate change in recent years, as investigations revealed the extent to which giants like ExxonMobil and Shell were aware of the danger of rising greenhouse gas emissions even as they undermined the work of scientists. But the coal industry knew, too — as early as...

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UN calls for push to cut greenhouse gas levels to avoid climate chaos

Countries must make an unprecedented effort to cut their levels of greenhouse gases in the next decade to avoid climate chaos, the United Nations has warned, as it emerged that emissions hit a new high last year. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, also accounting for deforestation, rose to more than 55 gigatonnes, and have risen on average by 1.5% a year for the past...

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The Problems with the BLM Moving to the West

On November 12, 2019, more than 300 employees at the Bureau of Land Management’s Washington, D.C., headquarters received letters saying they had 30 days to decide whether to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, or other regional offices—and then 90 more to pack up and go. This was part of a plan, announced in July by Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, to move...

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Smokies rangers will patrol Mexican border, arrest migrants

The Trump administration has ordered rangers from national parks around the country to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers. The directive has seen park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Zion National...

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Wildlife refuges suffer under budget cuts and staff shortages

The National Wildlife Refuge System, a branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, protects more than 850 million acres of land and water. From the marshy Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Florida to arid landscapes like the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada, the Refuge System is home to nearly every species of bird, fish, reptile and...

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Smokies outdoor education center turns 50, plans expansion

As it nears the end of its 50th anniversary year, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has its eyes set on the half-century to come. Within five years, the nonprofit aims to build out a second campus to supplement its existing facilities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Walker Valley. “It’s a big project and we don’t want to rush it,” said Caleb...

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Evidence of Many Varieties of Economic Benefits Linked to Trails

Trails and greenways impact our economy through tourism, events, urban redevelopment, community improvement, property values, health care costs, jobs and investment, and general consumer spending. Americans do spend a great deal on outdoor recreation. A 2006 Outdoor Industry Foundation study found that “Active Outdoor Recreation” contributes $887 billion annually to the...

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