Conservation & Environment

The Ultimate Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide

Posted by on Oct 9, 2019 @ 6:24 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The Ultimate Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide

Even if you haven’t been to our most visited national park yet, you can probably picture those blue ridgelines blurred across a southern Appalachian sky by that perpetual, namesake haze. In the spring, the sight is often the backdrop for a field of colorful wildflowers; in the fall, a rich palette of changing leaves.

I’m lucky to call the 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains my backyard, and they call images to mind that captures their character. There’s the black bear sprawling over a low branch, paw dangling; the silhouette of an elk bugling against the fog in a valley; and countless 19th-century log cabins, barns, and springhouses that sit at the edges of wildflower-filled meadows just off of roads and trails, like pioneer exhibits in a museum.

While you’ll count yourself among 11 million people on average who visit the mountain range every year, you can still find something personal and deeply profound in its lush valleys, ridgeline paths, and panoramic lookouts. For some this happens while exploring the more than 300 historic sites the park service maintains, while others are captivated by the slanted headstones, crumbling chimneys, and buckling walls in the backcountry.

Many find solitude in the 800 miles of trails, ranging from scenic day hikes to multi-day treks along 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail—do them all and you can join the 900 Miler Club. Just off the paths, and often running parallel, are streams home to one of the last wild-trout habitats in the region, including the distinct southern Appalachian brook trout. But for most, what makes the Great Smoky Mountains special is how each season has its own distinct character and reasons to visit, from spring’s colorful blooms to winter’s unobstructed peak views.

Here is the ultimate Great Smoky Mountains travel guide…

 

The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic

Posted by on Oct 6, 2019 @ 7:34 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The Ocean Cleanup project finally cleaned up some plastic

Well, folks, there’s a first time for everything — the Ocean Cleanup project has successfully deployed a device that collects plastic pollution.

It only took six years, tens of millions of dollars, and a few unsuccessful attempts (or “unscheduled learning opportunities,” in the words of 25-year-old founder and CEO Boyan Slat). The nonprofit’s prior, unsuccessful designs failed to catch any plastic, broke, or overflowed.

The new system even managed to pick up 1-millimeter microplastics, which Ocean Cleanup described as “a feat we were pleasantly surprised to achieve.”

Now that it finally has working technology, the Ocean Cleanup project hopes to scale up its fleet of 2,000-foot long, plastic-capturing, floating booms. The goal is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the next five years, and 90 percent of ocean plastic by 2040, an effort it estimates will require around 60 devices.

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Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs

Posted by on Oct 2, 2019 @ 7:00 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs

The roar of ATVs could be coming to a Utah national park backcountry road near you under a major policy shift initiated by the National Park Service without public input.

Across the country, off-road vehicles like ATVs and UTVs are generally barred from national parks. For Utah’s famed parks, however, that all changes starting Nov. 1, 2019 when these vehicles may be allowed on both main access roads and back roads like Canyonlands National Park’s White Rim and Arches’ entry points from Salt Valley and Willow Springs.

The move was ordered by the the National Park Service’s acting regional director, Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, who directed a memo to Utah park superintendents instructing them to align their regulations with Utah law, which allows off-road vehicles to travel state and county roads as long as they are equipped with standard safety equipment and are registered and insured.

“This alignment with state law isn’t carte blanche to take their ATVs off road,” said agency spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo. “If people [drive] off road, they will be cited. Protection of these resources is paramount.”

Under the rule change, off-highway vehicles could roam Canyonlands’ Maze District and Arches’ Klondike Buffs — as long as they remain on designated routes. In general, ATVs would be allowed to travel roads that are open to trucks and cars.

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North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park adds 900 acres for new recreation, camping, trailhead

Posted by on Oct 1, 2019 @ 7:07 am in Conservation | 0 comments

North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park adds 900 acres for new recreation, camping, trailhead

Hanging Rock State Park encompasses 8,605 acres, according to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. Now, the state is tacking on another 900 acres. NCDPR celebrated the new addition to the state park in Stokes County.

“This is truly a day for celebration,” said Secretary Susi H. Hamilton in a news release. “Future visitors to Hanging Rock State Park will have more trails to hike, more campgrounds and picnic areas for their families to enjoy, and incredible mountain views to behold.”

The area will include camping, a new trailhead, parking, a day-use area, a proposed extension of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail and parking.

The N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund put forward the money to bring in the new land.

The state describes the area as “wide open grasslands with sweeping views of ‘Three Sisters,’ ‘Sheeprock,’ and Flat Shoals Mountain.”

Cite…

 

Hellbenders Need You to Stop Messing With Their Bedrooms

Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 @ 9:42 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Hellbenders Need You to Stop Messing With Their Bedrooms

Like many misunderstood and undervalued creatures in the country’s wilds, the hellbender faces innumerable threats from poisoned water to climate change. But this creature—one that has survived some of Earth’s most dramatic changes—also faces an additional threat. And that threat involves people messing with its bedroom. Seriously.

Hellbenders have a home range of about 70 yards. From larvae until death, they live in the same small stretch of cold, eastern river. Hellbenders live under rocks, those pretty river stones people collect for their gardens or stack as cairns. The rocks protect them from predators like otters and mink and give them a place to wait while hunting passing crayfish.

As young, small hellbenders, they live under smaller rocks with gravel allowing an increase in oxygen flow. When they grow and age, they find larger rocks with larger-sized gravel underneath to call their homes.

That means every time a stream is dredged for gravel, or a path is blown up with dynamite for people to use for tubing, or tourists make another cairn for a pretty Instagram picture, or a homeowner gathers a pile of rocks for their garden, a hellbender could be displaced or die.

Efforts by state agencies and many zoos are studying the creatures, raising them in captivity and releasing them back into streams. Citizens groups and nonprofits have made strides to raise awareness. Scientific research is also increasing to better understand the animals.

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Celebrate National Public Lands Day on September 28, 2019

Posted by on Sep 22, 2019 @ 6:51 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Celebrate National Public Lands Day on September 28, 2019

National parks will offer free admission, wellness events, and stewardship activities for National Public Lands Day on Sept. 28, 2019 – the country’s biggest celebration of the great outdoors.

“It is always energizing to see people, parks, and communities unite in support of public lands,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “The variety of activities planned in national parks on National Public Lands Day will bring people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds together to help to raise awareness of these special places and foster personal connections to public lands.”

Organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day environmental volunteer effort. More than 100,000 people are expected to participate in thousands of events hosted by local, state, and national parks across the country. Volunteers will build trails, clean waterways, remove exotic species, and restore native landscapes. National parks, including Cape Cod, Everglades, Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Herbert Hoover, Hopewell Furnace, Great Smokies, Rocky Mountain, Timucuan, Weir Farm, Yosemite, and Zion, are among the sites hosting service events to improve and encourage shared stewardship of public lands.

Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., will be the site of NEEF’s main National Public Lands Day event. One of the oldest national parks in the country, Rock Creek Park’s 3,000 acres of deciduous forests and meadows nestled in the middle of an urban environment provide necessary habitat for wildlife as well as recreational resources for people. Volunteers will assist with five conservation projects in the park. During the event, National Public Lands Day national sponsor Toyota Motor North America plans to announce a $200,000 grant to support conservation projects in national parks in the surrounding area.

In addition to environmental stewardship activities, many events on Sept. 28 will encourage the use of public lands for education, recreation, and health benefits. Parks can play a vital role in personal physical and mental well-being. Experience it firsthand with a paddle trip, wellness talk, guided hike, bike ride, art therapy session, and/or yoga class in a park.

To encourage everyone to take part in National Public Lands Day, all national parks will waive entrance fees. Volunteers participating in work projects will receive a voucher that can be redeemed for free entrance to any national park on a day of their choosing

The National Environmental Education Foundation coordinates National Public Lands Day in partnership with seven federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional, and local governments. The federal partners are the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

 

Five Ways Forests Benefit Human Health

Posted by on Sep 20, 2019 @ 7:08 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Five Ways Forests Benefit Human Health

Have you ever spent the whole day inside sitting in school or work feeling exhausted, but when you walk outside into the sun and fresh air, you instantly feel better? There’s an actual scientific term for this feeling. Biophilia is a word for human’s innate draw to the natural environment. However, nature and forests in particular do much more for human health than just improve our mood.

Here are five ways that forests can positively impact human health:

1. Spending time outside improves mental health

2. Taking a walk through the forest can benefit physical health

3. Forests provide oxygen for out lungs

4. Forest purify and provide clean water for out communities

5. Trees help mitigate the effects of climate change

Get more details here…

 

Smokies Park Hosts Multiple Volunteer Opportunities in Celebration of National Public Lands Day

Posted by on Sep 18, 2019 @ 6:48 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Smokies Park Hosts Multiple Volunteer Opportunities in Celebration of National Public Lands Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a variety of opportunities on Saturday, September 28, 2019 in celebration of the 26th annual National Public Lands Day. On this day, National Park Service staff and volunteers will host information stations at popular sites throughout the national park. These stations will offer information about Leave No Trace principles and provide tips on how visitors can explore and enjoy the National Park while reducing their impact on the natural environment around them. Informational stations will be in operation from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

At Sugarlands Visitor Center and at Clingmans Dome, visitors and families are invited to sign up to become a Volunteer-In-Park (VIP) and participate in the park’s Litter Patrol Program. Whether visitors are planning to day hike, picnic, fish, or camp, they will be encouraged to do their part to help keep the park beautiful while they are out enjoying their public lands. Children, teens, and adults will be provided with all materials needed (gloves, grabbers, bags, safety vests) to perform litter patrol in the area of the park they are visiting this day.

In addition to these opportunities, the park will also host a volunteer Trail Maintenance Workday. Participants are invited to participate on a trail rehabilitation project on the Kanati Fork Trail from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Trail volunteers will perform a variety of duties including; installation of drainage features, rehabilitation of trail surfaces, and removal of brush.

The workday will offer a great opportunity to learn about sustainable trail design and gain a behind the scenes look at what it takes to maintain the vast trail network of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While jobs may vary in complexity, volunteers must be able to hike at least 2 miles and safely perform strenuous manual labor. Trail volunteers should be comfortable using hand tools such as shovels, rakes, and pick-axes. Minimum age of participants is 16. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible parent or guardian.

Trail volunteers should wear long pants, long sleeves, sturdy closed-toed shoes, and appropriate layers for changing weather. The park will provide gloves, safety gear, and tools for the day. All participants should bring lunch, water, and rain gear. Interested participants should contact Trail and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or adam_monroe@nps.gov for more information and registration.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands across America. This year’s celebration is expected to draw more than 200,000 volunteers at more than 2,600 sites. For more information about National Public Lands visit https://www.neefusa.org/public-lands-day.

 

Take a tour of this canyon for a less-crowded, more in-depth experience than at Mesa Verde

Posted by on Sep 16, 2019 @ 6:43 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Take a tour of this canyon for a less-crowded, more in-depth experience than at Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado is an archaeological gem thanks to nearly 5,000 ancient sites. Founded in 1906, the park preserves the heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the dwellings for almost 700 years.

For a more peaceful journey through indigenous history, head to Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Situated in the northeastern part of the state in the Four Corners region, Canyon de Chelly is only 150 miles from Mesa Verde, but it feels like a separate world.

This territory reflects one of the longest continually inhabited regions on the continent. Various indigenous peoples including the Ancestral Puebloans and the Navajo lived in these canyons for nearly 5,000 years. Today, more than 2,700 known archaeological sites can be found in the canyons, including hundreds of Ancestral Puebloan villages and cliff dwellings.

The monument also represents a first-of-its-kind collaboration among the Navajo Nation, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The entire park is located on Navajo tribal land, and 40 Navajo families still reside in the canyon. In 2018, the three parties signed an agreement that outlines their commitment to sustainably manage the monument together.

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Armadillos roll into Western North Carolina

Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 @ 6:41 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Armadillos roll into Western North Carolina

Flexible bands of skin on its back hold the hard pieces of its roly-poly shell together. Scales cover much of its body, interrupted by the shaggy, grey hair that covers its belly. Deserving a spot alongside the platypus as one of the world’s strangest mammals, the latest arrival to the Tar Heel State is doing its part to keep the Asheville area weird.

Since May 17, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been asking residents to report any sightings of a creature that has come to the state all the way from South and Central America: the nine-banded armadillo. The call comes as part of the NC Armadillo project, a citizen-science initiative to track the unusual animals.

Armadillos began their expansion throughout the U.S. in the early 1800s. Since their arrival, they have moved north and east, establishing themselves in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Armadillos were first seen in North Carolina in Macon County in 2007, and the first confirmed Buncombe County sighting took place in July 2014 near Leicester. Numerous confirmed sightings have since occurred throughout the state, with many more unconfirmed reports — as many as 13 in Buncombe County alone.

Armadillos likely benefit from North Carolina’s increasingly higher average winter temperatures because their shells are not well insulated and do not protect them from the cold. Similarly other animals that are affected heavily by temperature are seeing range shifts driven in part by climate change. One such group is the various salamanders of Southern Appalachia.

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Trump Administration Repeals Clean Water Rule, Threatening National Park Waterways and Drinking Water for Communities Across the Country

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 @ 9:32 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump Administration Repeals Clean Water Rule, Threatening National Park Waterways and Drinking Water for Communities Across the Country

The Trump administration announced its final repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, threatening drinking water for communities and national park waterways across the country. The administration’s dismantling of the Clean Water Rule, combined with its proposed rewrite, eliminates protections for our nation’s rivers, lakes and streams, and paves the way for more pollution from mining, manufacturing and large farms to flow into waterways, which will ultimately impact water that we all depend on for drinking, fishing, swimming and other recreation.

The original WOTUS rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, was developed over a multi-year process that included bipartisan support. The goal was to end confusion about which of our nation’s streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers — the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans — are protected under the Clean Water Act. Almost immediately after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Clean Water Rule.

The National Park Service oversees thousands of miles of waterways and coasts throughout the country – from trout streams in Yellowstone to wetlands in the Everglades. For more than 20 years, national park visitors have consistently ranked water quality or water access as a top-five most valued attribute when visiting national parks. The Outdoor Industry Association found that consumers spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, with nearly $140 billion on kayaking, rafting, canoeing, scuba diving and other water and recreation activities, all of which takes place in our parks.

Cite…

 

Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds

Posted by on Sep 10, 2019 @ 6:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds

Some of the places most sought after by recreationists are also culturally, spiritually, and/or economically vital to Native American tribes. As more people take to these lands to hike, bike, climb, ski, paddle, or camp, respect for indigenous values sometimes fades.

In Wyoming’s Devils Tower National Monument, for instance, an increasing number of climbers are choosing to ignore a voluntary June climbing ban that’s been in place for more than 20 years to allow local tribes to hold ceremonies at the site. Roughly 373 climbers scaled Devils Tower in June 2017, compared to 167 in 1995.

Some sacred places are strictly off-limits to non-indigenous folks. But more often, Native Americans are happy to share their traditional homelands if recreationists respect the cultural heritage of the places we want to play.

The Oglala Lakota were granted Devils Tower through an 1851 treaty, and the U.S. later violated that treaty, forcing the tribe onto a reservation. Honoring the June ban and other tribal requests is a small way to acknowledge Native people’s past, and honor their modern rights.

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Smokies Park reaches biodiversity milestone at 20,000 species

Posted by on Sep 7, 2019 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Smokies Park reaches biodiversity milestone at 20,000 species

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reached a biodiversity milestone with the discovery and documentation of 20,000 species of plants, animals, and other organisms. Scientists from across the world have assisted the park in a concerted effort to catalog all life in the park through an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI).

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to the curiosity, tenacity, and dedication of the biological community,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Each year, we have scientists who share their time and expertise to help us better describe, understand, and protect the wonders of the Smokies.”

The ATBI is an ongoing project to study the diversity of life in the Smokies including where the species can be found, how abundant they are, and how they interact with one another. The project is managed by Discover Life in America (DLiA), a non-profit partner of the park, in cooperation with park staff.

In the 21 years of its existence, the ATBI has documented over 9,500 new species records for the park and an additional 1,006 species that are completely new to science. Among the newest species records in the park are the giant bark aphid (Longistigma caryae), which is the largest aphid in the US; the Blue Ridge three-lobed coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba var. rupestris), a handsome wildflower native to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina; the frosted elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus), a rare butterfly whose caterpillars feed on lupine and indigo; and the yellow passion flower bee (Anthemurgus passiflorae), which exclusively pollinates the small flowers of the yellow passion flower. In addition, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) was recently documented in the park for the first time.

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How can I teach my students about climate change?

Posted by on Sep 6, 2019 @ 6:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

How can I teach my students about climate change?

The good news about young brains — as anyone who’s been even passively absorbing climate news over the past year probably knows — is that the Teens Are Pretty On It. Seattle-based climate activist Jamie Margolin launched the nonprofit Zero Hour when she was yet to hit voting age.

The International Youth Climate Strike, which took place in over 130 countries this past March, was organized by a group of middle and high school students, some of whom were as young as 13. And Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who’s become something of a patron saint of the climate movement, just sailed across the whole-ass Atlantic Ocean on a zero-carbon yacht to school the United Nations on climate action at the tender age of 16.

It’s easy to read that as a teacher and think, “I’m good here! The next crop of kids is already all over the climate thing.” Kids today may be “digital natives” who get the latest TikTok update downloaded directly to their brains, but they’ve also had to grow up wading through the rising cesspool that is online misinformation.

When you add into the mix that many media outlets continue to prominently feature climate deniers (despite the vast majority of scientists affirming that human-caused climate change is real), and the fact we’re talking about complicated science stuff and existential threats to human life on Earth, you have a recipe for utter bafflement.

So what should you do?

 

19-Mile Rail Trail Could Link Hendersonville and Brevard

Posted by on Aug 31, 2019 @ 6:35 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

19-Mile Rail Trail Could Link Hendersonville and Brevard

North Carolina House Rep. Chuck McGrady, Conserving Carolina, and Friends of the Ecusta Trail are pleased to announce that Conserving Carolina was awarded a $6.4 million purchase grant for the rail corridor known as the TR Line or Proposed Ecusta Trail. “This is a very big next step for the Ecusta Trail”, said McGrady. “There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of processes to work through that will take time, but this is a large step forward.”

The proposed greenway will run from Kanuga Road in Hendersonville to the old Ecusta Plant property in Brevard, between Ecusta Road and Old Hendersonville Highway. This rail line has been inactive since the Ecusta cigarette paper plant closed its doors in 2002.

Friends of The Ecusta Trail was founded in 2009 as a volunteer organization to study, educate and advocate for the acquisition and development of the proposed Ecusta Trail. Their efforts over the years have included garnering endorsements for the trail by the Cities of Brevard and Hendersonville, the Town of Laurel Park and the Henderson County Commissioners in addition to nearly 50 other non-profits and organizations throughout western North Carolina.

Representatives of Friends of the Ecusta Trail asked Conserving Carolina to take the lead in grant application process. Conserving Carolina submitted the grant application to NCDOT in July, 2019. The grant was approved this month.

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Yes, the Amazon wildfires are bad, but how bad?

Posted by on Aug 26, 2019 @ 7:19 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Yes, the Amazon wildfires are bad, but how bad?

Brazil has recorded over 75,000 individual forest fires in 2019 so far, showing an 85 per cent increase when compared to the first eight months of 2018. The impact on the Amazon has been catastrophic. In July, an area the size of Manhattan was obliterated every single day. And this destruction will undoubtedly have grave consequences for the entire planet.

The Amazon basin is center-stage in the debate over the causes and solutions to global warming. Spanning over seven million square kilometers, it accounts for over 40 percent of the world´s entire stock of tropical forests, 20 per cent of the global fresh water supply and recycles roughly 20 percent of the air we breathe.

As media headlines around the world are showing, these forests are under threat due to fires, relentless deforestation and degradation. Much of this is caused by cattle rearing, soy production, mining and selective logging.

Scientists are concerned that the Amazon is perilously close to a tipping-point creating conditions so hot and dry that local species could not regenerate. If 20-25 percent of the tree cover is deforested, the basin’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide would collapse.

If this happens, the world´s largest tropical forest will become its biggest patch of scrubland. This would not only lead to rapid deterioration of biodiversity, it would profoundly upset the process of evapotranspiration which influences cloud cover and the circulation of ocean currents.

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Park Webcams Provide Smokies Views and Weather

Posted by on Aug 22, 2019 @ 6:40 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Park Webcams Provide Smokies Views and Weather

Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently installed webcams at Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome, providing visitors with near real-time access to weather conditions and views from the highest elevations in the park. The public can access images taken every 15 minutes, along with hourly information on temperature, humidity, wind speeds, precipitation, and air quality.

The new webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap were installed last year and staff have been testing the reliability and accessibility over the last several months. The data is easily available online, providing visitors an opportunity to better prepare themselves for a park visit at high elevations where temperatures can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than experienced at low elevations. Visitors can also check visibility and precipitation conditions to better determine viewing and traveling conditions. In addition, the park has webcams at Look Rock, Purchase Knob, and Twin Creeks.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to collect and share timely weather and air quality conditions with park visitors, as well as those who simply want to experience Smokies views from wherever they are in the country,” said Air Quality Specialist Jim Renfro. “We’re hearing from many people that these views and weather conditions help them feel connected to the park even if they are very far away or have never had a chance to visit in person.”

Digital images, weather, and air quality information from monitoring locations in the park are part of the National Park Service air quality web camera network, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and the PhenoCam Network providing us valuable long-term monitoring data. The Clingmans Dome webcam is operated seasonally from late March through early December, weather depending, while the other cameras are operated throughout the year.

Funds to support the installation and annual operations for the webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap is provided by Friends of the Smokies, the National Park Service Air Resources Division. Other park partners helping to provide weather data and communication are Great Smoky Mountains Association, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Weather Service, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, and Air Resource Specialists, Inc.

To access webcam information, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

 

It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers are falling from the sky

Posted by on Aug 15, 2019 @ 7:14 am in Conservation | 0 comments

It’s raining plastic: microscopic fibers are falling from the sky

Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Weatherbee’s mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains.“I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,” said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers.

The discovery, published in a recent study titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.

“I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Weatherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now.”

Rainwater samples collected across Colorado and analyzed under a microscope contained a rainbow of plastic fibers, as well as beads and shards. The findings shocked Weatherbee, who had been collecting the samples in order to study nitrogen pollution.

The results are consistent with another recent study that found microplastics in the Pyrenees, suggesting plastic particles could travel with the wind for hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers. Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater.

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How Jocassee Gorges Was Saved

Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 @ 6:54 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

How Jocassee Gorges Was Saved

To appreciate what Bill Thomas did for Gorges State Park, think of it not as a stand-alone property but as part of the larger Lake Jocassee watershed. Also known as Jocassee Gorges, it is a freak of climatological and geologic nature that extends across the North Carolina-South Carolina line southwest of Asheville and has been named by National Geographic as one of fifty “World’s Last Great Places.”

The ancient crash of tectonic plates that created the Appalachian Mountains pushed up the Blue Wall on the southeast edge of the mountains and formed the bones of the lake’s basin and the maze of gorges above it. The 2,000-foot wall catches moisture from clouds drifting up from the Gulf of Mexico, creating an annual average of 91 inches of rain (and a whopping 136 inches in 2018) that feeds four landmark rivers, the Thompson, Toxaway, Horsepasture and Whitewater. Their destination-worthy cascades include Whitewater, Rainbow, Turtleback and Windy falls.

Thomas, taking in the views at Gorges State Park, thought about what this land could have been— a vast zone of hydroelectric projects, its famous waterfalls funneled through pipes, its wild rivers cooped up in basins designed to flush like toilets to produce surges of power.

He thought about what it has been instead for the past 20 years—a safely preserved wonderland of deep ravines, plunging rivers and rare plants.

Thomas, 91, a retired chemical engineer, made an unpaid, late-life career of doing good things for the environment, applying his passion for the outdoors and brilliant, Princeton-trained intellect to a series of causes, including the blocking of a luxury subdivision planned for the heart of DuPont State Recreational Forest.

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Indians Plant 220 Million Trees In A Single Day

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 @ 7:21 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Indians Plant 220 Million Trees In A Single Day

More than a million Indians planted 220 million trees on August 9, 2019 in a government campaign to tackle climate change and improve the environment in the country’s most populous state.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, lawmakers, officials and others planted dozens of species of saplings along roads, rail tracks and in forest lands in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The target of 220 million saplings was achieved. Ranjan said the trees, including 16 fruit species, will increase forest cover in the state.

India has pledged to keep one-third of its land area under tree cover, but its 1.3 billion people and rapid industrialization are hampering its efforts.

“We set the target of 220 million because Uttar Pradesh is home to 220 million people,” said state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Planting was carried out in 1,430,381 places, including 60,000 villages and 83,000 sites in forest ranges. It was the second huge tree planting campaign in Uttar Pradesh. In July 2016, 50 million saplings were planted in a day.

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